How to download photos FROM an iPad directly TO an external hard drive!!!

Ok, this is HUGE to me.  I have finally figured out how to transfer pictures from my ipad directly to an external hard drive.  Now, to clarify this for those that don’t get what I mean.  Lets say I’ve been out shooting all day and I have filled up a memory card.  Well, I want a safe backup,  I go back to the hotel and backup to my ipad, but I can’t do this for long because it only has a max of 64gb space.  Now, however I have expanded that space to 1tb!  Woo Hoo!!

The basic workflow is:

Go out and shoot all day on location

Using camera connection kit, download all your shots onto your ipad

Connect external hard drive to ipad

Copy all pictures you just downloaded onto the external drive

Delete those pictures from your ipad and you have space for tomorrow


What you will need:

An ipad of course, the bigger the better, I use a 64 since you still need to put the pictures from your camera onto the ipad.  But if you are reading this far you probably have an ipad anyhow.

You must have your ipad jailbroken.  That’s the only way to do this, I’m not going to go into why or how to do it, google it, choose for yourself.

You need the app ifile from cydia

Camera connection kit with usb plug

An external hard drive

The usb cable to connect the external drive.  This cable needs to have a splitter so you can power the drive by plugging it into the wall.

The ipad does not have enough power to run the drive on it’s own, that’s why you need to plug the drive into the wall, or a solar charger if you are in the field too.


So, on to the good stuff!!


First install ifile on your device, there, now you have everything you need for the software to make this work.  Never have to download it again.


1. Using the camera connection kit, download all your pictures from your camera onto the ipad.  That’s easy, just like we’ve always done.

2.  Plug the usb part of the camera connection kit into the ipad and then connect up the external drive.

3. open ifile app.  Turn the ipad sideways so you get the landscape view.

4 on the left side it has a  shortcuts menu which will say Devices.. under the devices section you will see disk, wait a few seconds and then it will show “flash drive”  there might be 2 flash drives depending on your external drive partitions

5. now, under places click images and it will give you a bunch of files.  This is the only confusing part, you have to find the files you just imported.  Simply click the file name and it will open the file.  Some files will be empty, and some will have photo file names.  It’s easy for me because I shoot all raw, so I just find the file with the .NEF extensions in the file name.

in the right corner, click edit.  Then hold your finger on one file until the “select all” appears.  Click “select all”   again, hold your finger and select “copy”

over on the left side, select your flash drive that you are using under the disk section.  Then on the right panel hold your finger over where you want to put the pictures.  “paste” will appear, click paste and all your pictures will be copied from your ipad to your external drive.


Next to the name “flash drive” there is a little button to unmount the drive.  Sometimes this works, but usually once you unplug the drive then your ipad resets itself.  Whatever reason it does this I don’t’ know, but it’s probably good to reset every so often anyhow.  All the nerds tell us that… wait, am I one of those nerds now that I’ve written a computer how to article?


Sounds like a lot of steps but it’s really simple when you actually do it


Now, since space is limited I go back and delete all my pictures from my ipad and I’m ready to start the process over again…



For those of you that need it here is a link to a youtube video that shows the same thing too.



13 thoughts on “How to download photos FROM an iPad directly TO an external hard drive!!!

  1. This came just in time!
    Thank you for posting! My one question is, what if my ipad only has 4gb of space left and I have approximately 40gb of files to unload onto my external HD. Will I have to select, say, 20 files at a time and transfer them in small increments since my ipad only has limited space? Or since I’m carrying a 500gb drive, once it’s plugged in I won’t run into this problem?

    1. ya know, i’m really not sure, i’m headed to antarctica next week and i’m sure i’ll have all the answers then.. i’m not sure if the ram in the ipad is a factor either.

      one thing i have also found is that with the camera connection kit, using the sd card part, you can read an sd card.. so now i just get a couple 64gb sd cards and i put all my movies on those for airplane trips so that frees up alot of space on the ipad too. and with the sd cards you don’t need to worry about it needing to be plugged into power….

      if you have the time run a test while you are at home to see how it works best and leave a comment so others know…

      my basic workflow theory is download my pictures onto my ipad. transfer them to the external drive.. then delete them from the ipad. that gives me the card and then the hard drive as my backup incase the card gets corrupt or i drop it in the ocean….

    1. Does the iPad have to be jail broken? I have seen a couple of other how to’s on this topic that have said your iPad needs to be jail broken and I’m keen to avoid this if possible.

  2. Where can I get that connection thing I have one but it doesn’t have a place to plug in external drive thank you so much for any help I liked your you tube video

  3. Is there a way to add videos to the external hard drive? For example, home movies or downloaded movies from iTunes? And can they be moved from the hard drive back to the ipad? Thanks!

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