If you’ve taken a lot of photographs this holiday using your Apple iPhone, at some point you'll want transfer them to a computer, either to back them up or edit them using picture editing software like Photoshop.

But how do you do that? Here we'll explore both Mac and Windows PC methods of transferring digital photographs and look at how Photo Stream can help.


Mac

To back up photographs using a Mac, iPhone users need to import them using a photo application. For most Mac users this will be iPhoto, which is included on new MacBook laptops and iMacs.

When you plug in your iPhone, you’ll notice iPhoto launches automatically and your phone appears on the left (below). All the photos and video stored your handset appear as thumbnails.

At the top right are two options Import Selected and Import XX Photos.  If you only want to transfer a few photographs hold down the Apple key, click the ones you want to import and click Import Selected.  Use Import XX Photos if you want to transfer everything. 

Whatever you select, you’ll have to wait while the pictures transfer, which varies depending on the quantity of photographs. By default they are stored in your Pictures folder.

A box then appears asking you if you want to delete them from your iPhone or keep them.

 

Windows PC

You don't need to use iTunes to transfer photographs to a PC. Plug your iPhone in  and a pop-up box appears offering the choice to import using an application (such as Windows), or to open the device and transfer them manually.

If you select the second option you'll have to locate the folder DCIM from the phone. This isn't difficult because it's the only folder there -  because unlike an Android or BlackBerry phone, the iPhone doesn't offer true mass storage, in order to transfer music you have to go through iTunes.

 

Photo Stream

Apple’s iOS 5 update brought Photo Stream to the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3G and the feature was included at launch on the iPhone 4S.

Once Photo Stream is activated on your device your photographs will be available on other Apple devices without the need for syncing. So (for example) you can take a photo on your iPhone and it will appear automatically on the Photo Stream of an iPad, iPod and personal computer equipped with iPhoto.

Up to 1000 pictures are automatically stored in the Cloud, using 5GB storage provided (for free) by Apple. Photo Stream automatically uploads new photos when connected to WiFi, so you don’t even have to worry about activating it. First you need to set-it up on a phone and a computer.

 

On your iPhone

When you launched your iPhone 4 or 3GS after the iOS 5 update or turned on your iPhone 4S you will have been prompted to turn on iCloud, using your Apple iD. (picture credit Apple)

If you choose not to use iCloud you can set it up manually. Go to Settings - Mail, Contacts, Calendars - Accounts - Add Account. On the Add Account screen select iCloud and enter your Apple ID and password (the same one you use to buy apps with).

Then you need to turn Photo Stream on. Go to Settings - iCloud - Photo Stream (ON) (below left). Make sure Backup is activated at Storage & Backup - iCloud Backup - On (below right).


Click the Photo icon on your iPhone and you’ll see a new Photo Stream folder (below left), which will appear on all other compatible devices. At the moment you can’t delete pictures from Photo Stream, which means that things you may not want to keep (like screenshots) are stored in the Cloud, although that’s rumoured to be changing with a future update.

 

On a computer 

If you want to access Photo Stream using a computer as a method of backing up your photographs you'll need to first set it up in iPhoto. Make sure you have the most up to date version of the program, launch it and click Photo Stream in the left-hand column. Select Turn on Photo Stream (below).

Once synchronised is complete you’ll be able to view the same thumbnails in Photo Stream that are on your phone. As we've mentioned Photo Stream syncs between devices automatically, so you don't have to worry about activating it, you just need to make sure you back-up to save pictures permanently.

At this point it's worth reiterating that although you can see them, these pictures are not stored on your computer, they are still in the cloud. To import photographs onto your computer and back them up permanently select them and click File - Import to Library.

Remember Photo Stream is not permanent storage - photos are only stored for 30 days.  But it does mean you don’t have to connect your phone to back-up photographs - you can use a PC with PhotoStream.