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How to transfer files between iPhone and Mac with a USB flash drive

Need to move files from an iPhone to a Mac or PC? Follow along for how to transfer files between iPhone and Mac with a USB flash drive as well as a couple of other options.

There are a variety of ways to transfer files between an iPhone and Mac. If you just need to share a single file or even a handful, using the share button (square with up arrow) and sending them via Messages, Mail, or another app is the easiest option.

Another way to go is using iCloud Drive via the Files app on iPhone. Any Mac you’re signed into with the same Apple ID/iCloud account will sync the files that are saved to the Files app on your iPhone.

However, if you need to transfer large files, or a good number of them, especially to a Mac or PC that’s not yours, doing so with a USB flash drive may be your best bet.

How to transfer files between iPhone and Mac with a USB drive

  1. Pick up a Lightning to USB flash drive if you don’t already have one
  2. Plug it into your iPhone (you’ll need to download a corresponding app)
  3. Open the app that works with your specific flash drive on iPhone
  4. Save your files with the app, then unplug it from your iPhone
  5. Plug the flash drive into your Mac or PC
  6. On Mac, open Finder and click on the drive on the left hand sidebar or you may see it pop up on your Desktop

There are a variety of Lighting to USB flash drives on the market. SanDisk makes a reliable one for about $25. However, it seems to be mostly off-brand companies that are making flash drives that include Lightning, USB-C, and USB all in one.

No matter which one you pick, you’ll need to use an accompanying iOS app to save files to the flash drive with your iPhone.

Here’s how the process looks with SanDisk’s iXpand:

transfer files iPhone Mac

After you successfully save your files to the flash drive, unplug it from your iPhone and plug it into the Mac or PC that you want to transfer the files too.

For more help getting the most out of your Apple devices, check out our how to guide as well as the following articles:

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Avatar for Michael Potuck Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.