How To Download Full Resolution Photos to Your iPhone/iPad With Dropbox

Using only Dropbox for bringing your full resolution images on your iDevice.

by Pu on July 25, 2012

I am all for taking photos with the iPhone and iPad native cameras, so you will rarely see me using pictures taken with a DSLR to illustrate what iPhone and iPad apps can do. This is because I think using non-native photos to show what the iPhone can really do is totally pointless and deceiving. I am not a so-called pixel-peeper either, but if there is something that really bothers me is a low quality image. If the photos I can take with an app are not much to look at in terms of quality, I do not care if it features the most unique concept or one billion filters. Evident aliasing issues, jagged borders, banding, interpolated pixels: all of them usually drive me crazy and I try to avoid these deficiencies at all costs. You can understand very well then that transferring full resolution images from the computer to the iPhone and iPad can be a serious problem for people like me.

Full Resolution Images to iPhone and iPad

It happened several times that, for a reason or another, I needed to transfer photos taken with a DSLR to one of my iDevices; a number of times I was horrified to discover noticeable quality issues after the transfer. If I have a clear and sharp 4200 pixel photo at 300 DPI I do not want to see it turn into a blurry 960 pixel image at 72 DPI after import to either the iPad or the iPhone, do I? Unfortunately, this kind of outcome is not uncommon, and for the longest time importing photos from a device to the other has been for me an endless source of frustration. Even if everything looks fine at first glance, on bigger screens you may find out that you are working with a low quality image that looks like your dog has been chewing on it, instead of your beautiful and sleek original.

Today I am going to share a very simple trick to bring your photos at their full resolution to all your iDevices. You only need your Dropbox account and your iPhone or iPad. This is a very simple method lazy folks will appreciate, as it requires no connection kits, no iTunes, no fancy add-ons… nothing of the sort. I have chanced upon it once, after losing my own Dropbox login. Yes, I am one of these people that always forget their passwords, even after they have been using them for ages. I should add that I had been looking for something as straightforward as this for a long time, but in tech forums I was always redirected to “download app X” or “buy kit Y”.

Perhaps you do not have a Dropbox yet, and in this case I suggest you to get it. Even if you think you do not need it now, you never know when it could come in handy. Having the files you care for always with you is not a luxury, but a requirement. Every account is free up to 2 GB, so you have nothing to lose even if you do not really need this service right now. If you already have a Dropbox account, there is the chance you have tried the iPhone and iPad app. Moreover, if you used the said app to download any photo, you have probably noticed that Dropbox downsizes large images when you try to save them from your account to your iDevice from within the app. Why this should happen is beyond me, but that’s exactly how it is.

To have your original high-resolution image files transferred from your Dropbox to your iDevice, just follow these easy instructions:

  1. Open from your iDevice’s browser. I used Safari or Opera, but of course you can pick the one you prefer;
  2. Log in to your account (I know, this might be tricky if your memory as bad as mine);

    Full Resolution Images to iPhone and iPad

    Logging in to your Dropbox account.

  3. Browse your folders and go to the one that contains your photos. It can be the default Dropbox “Photo” folder or the one that you have created;
  4. Tap on the name of the file you want to download, wait for it to load and then tap and hold/save image;
    Full Resolution Images to iPhone and iPad

    Saving your photo to your iDevice.

  5. Ta-da! Your full resolution image is saved to your album and you didn’t have to use anything beyond your browser!

As I stated above, this is one of the simplest and cheapest methods to have your full resolution photos on your iPhone and iPad. Be warned that this is not the quickest way to transfer dozens of photos at once. If you have whole albums to import this approach is too long and elaborate, but if you just have a bunch of images it works just fine.

More on this same topic soon.

unruly-e July 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Pu, The simplicity is brilliant! Thanks for sharing. -e

Alex July 27, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Thanks very insightful…

Alysia July 28, 2012 at 1:21 am

Nice! Would be nice if the app was a little better tho!

Marvin Sparks August 3, 2012 at 12:01 pm

very nice… I like it..

nico August 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm

You can also copy the link from the dropbox app, paste in safari, then click on direct download and save the picture !

Thor November 7, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Is it possible to transfer pictures from dropbox to your camera album?

Pics2Phone November 30, 2012 at 1:36 pm

We are currently building an iOS-App that automatically downloads all photos in one particular folder (pics2phone) from Dropbox to your iPhone’s Album-app (no downscaling). If you create subfolders to pics2phone, these are replicated as new photo-albums to our iPhone locally. That’s also nice if you want to edit photos taken with an SLR-camera with instagram or other photo-apps.
You might subscribe to our launch-page and follow us on twitter here

Anonymous November 10, 2013 at 1:52 pm

You can also just send a mail to yourself and open it on your device 😛

Pu November 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Depending on a series of factors (provider, email client, etc.), email can degrade the actual quality of the image, so I wouldn’t recommend doing it =)

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