3 ways to transfer large video files from iPhone to PC

The iPhone is able to shoot high resolution videos, which can produce very large file sizes. How do you transfer large video files to a Windows PC for editing or viewing? Here’s what to do.

The iPhone has an excellent camera that is great for shooting videos. In fact, it can produce professional-quality videos with high resolution and frame rates. For example, it can shoot at up to 4k resolution at 60 frames per second.

At that setting, the video file size grows at 400 MB per minute, which means that just five minutes of video will result in at least a 2 GB file size and 10 minutes of video will result in at least a 4 GB file. Here is how to set the video resolution on the iPhone:

  1. Open the Settings app on the iPhone
  2. Swipe up and tap Camera
  3. Press Record Video
  4. Select one of the video formats, from 720 HD at 30 fps to 4k at 60 fps
  5. At Settings > Camera > Formats choose High Efficiency to reduce the file size
Screenshot of iPhone video quality settings
iPhone video resolution settings

iPhone storage is used up at a rapid rate, so if you shoot long or high resolution and frame rate videos, you need a lot of free storage on the device.

It is easy to run out of space and not be able to shoot any more video, so here is how to check the amount of free storage remaining on the iPhone:

  1. Open the Settings app on the iPhone
  2. Press General
  3. Press iPhone Storage
  4. The total storage and amount used is shown

Let’s see how to transfer those big videos to a Windows computer.

1 Transfer large videos to PC with iCloud

In order to store files in iCloud, you must have sufficient space. Only 5 GB is available for free and after app files and backups have taken a chunk of this, there will not be much space left for photos and videos. It is very easy to run out of space.

To transfer large video files using iCloud, you need sufficient free storage space for them. The amount you need depends mostly on the amount of photos and videos you have because these take up the most space for many people.

To check the space on iCloud:

  1. Open the Settings app on the iPhone
  2. Press your Apple ID at the top
  3. See the amount of storage space next to iCloud
  4. Press iCloud to see the total space and the space used
  5. Tap Manage Storage
  6. Tap Change Storage Plan if you need more space

It is up to you how much iCloud storage space you need and up to 2 TB is available at the top end. At the bottom end, 50 GB is very cheap and under £1/$1 a month.

If you have sufficient storage space, files of up to 50 GB will sync and be stored online in iCloud. Just open Settings > Photos and turn on the iCloud Photos switch. It will take quite some time for the iPhone to sync large videos, so don’t expect videos to be there five minutes after shooting them. They will not sync in battery saver mode, so turn it off if it is on.

Once a video is synced to your iCloud online storage, it can be accessed in a web browser at the iCloud website:

Want to transfer large video files from the iPhone to the PC? Download them from www.icloud.com
Select a video and download it from the iCloud website

Download videos from iCloud:

  1. On a Windows PC, go to www.icloud.com
  2. Click the Photos icon
  3. Expand Media Types in the sidebar
  4. Select Videos in the media list
  5. Click a video to select it
  6. Click the Download (cloud) icon in the toolbar at the top
  7. Save the video on the PC

2 Transfer large videos to PC with OneDrive

OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox and other cloud storage services can be used instead of iCloud to transfer large video files to a PC. OneDrive is particularly easy because it is built into Windows PCs. Unlike Drive, Dropbox, Box and others, there is nothing to install on the PC.

You only need the OneDrive app on the iPhone and that is free. Unfortunately, only 5 GB of online storage is provided for free and it is soon filled with big files. You could transfer one file, move it from OneDrive on the PC to another folder, like Videos, then transfer another file. As long as you keep OneDrive clear, you can keep transferring big files.

There are two ways of uploading video files to OneDrive online storage, automatically and manually.

To upload photos and videos automatically from the iPhone to OneDrive:

  1. Open the OneDrive app on the iPhone
  2. Tap your account picture in the top left corner
  3. Tap Settings
  4. Tap Camera Upload
  5. Turn on the switch
Screenshot of OneDrive settings on the iPhone
Turn on Camera Upload in OneDrive settings

Warning: This will upload the whole contents of you Photos library. A free OneDrive account does not have sufficient space for this and you must have a subscription. Tap the diamond icon at the top of the OneDrive Files tab for details. Storage from 100 GB to 6 TB is available, which the cheapest being £1.99 a month. The next step up is 1 TB at £6.99 a month, but not only do you get a lot of storage, you also get Office 365 apps.

If you want to stick with a free account, you can manually upload large videos one at a time:

  1. Tap the plus button at the top of the Home screen or Files tab
  2. Select Upload
  3. Press Photos and Videos
  4. Tap the Videos album
  5. Select a video and press Done at the top

You can select multiple videos to upload, but if you do, make sure there is sufficient free space on OneDrive. Files uploaded to OneDrive online storage are automatically available on the PC in the OneDrive folder. If a file has a cloud icon next to it, right click it and choose to keep it on this device. That makes sure it is on the disk.

3 Transfer large videos to PC with ES File Explorer

ES File Explorer is a free app in the App Store on the iPhone. It has many features, but the one that is useful here is being able to connect the iPhone to a Windows PC wirelessly. You can see iPhone files and download them on a PC using a web browser. This means you can simply download those big videos files to the PC directly from the iPhone. It’s great if you want to transfer large video files to your computer.

  1. Open the Photos app on the iPhone
  2. Select Albums in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen
  3. Browse the videos and tap the one to transfer
  4. Press the Share/Action button at the bottom of the screen
  5. Swipe left over the icons and press ES File Explorer
  6. Press My Files to open the folder
  7. Press the Save button at the bottom of the screen
  8. Quit Photos app and open ES Explorer app
  9. Press the Transfer button at the bottom of the screen
  10. Select the WiFi Transfer option
  11. Enter the URL displayed into a browser on the PC
  12. Click the Download button next to the video file to transfer
  13. The video file is in the PC’s Downloads folder

It might look like a lot of steps and a bit of a hassle transferring files directly, but it is actually quite easy. You basically select a video and share it to ES File Explorer.

Screenshot of video sharing options on the iPhone
Share the vide and choose ES File Explorer

Go to the WiFi Transfer URL in a browser on the PC and download it. Job done.

Accessing ES File Explorer on an iPhone from a Windows PC
Download files from the iPhone on a PC

I have not tried it with super big files, but I cannot see a problem and it should work fine no matter what the file size.

This avoids having to pay for online storage to host the large video files.

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