How to import to MAC/Windows the iOS edited images without losing the changes

This has been a big debate for many users since Apple introduced the first image editing feature in their native iOS Photo app (or Camera roll). At that time was on iOS6 and the first tool was for ‘Cropping’ the shots made with native camera.


Nowadays, with iOS8, we can further edit our shots directly from Photos app with much more filters and even HDR, but the thing is that changes made on the images will be lost once they are imported/synchronized to OS X or Windows PC because those changes are not permanent applied to the pictures but stored in a sidecar file based on Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP), and with AAE extension.

So, if you want to import your pictures, the official feedback from Apple is to use a proprietary application installed in your computers which can support that sidecar XMP, and they are the following as examples:

  • iPhoto 9.5 or later
  • iPhoto for iOS
  • Aperture 3 or later
  • Adobe Lightroom
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements

The problem is that most of them are discontinued, or are very expensive Professional photo/video editing tools and with features which a regular user only looking to import their pictures doesn’t need at all.

Moreover, it seems that for Apple, this is not a ‘bug’, but a ‘feature’, so it will pass long time before it is changed, if it is changed at all in the future (something that I really doubt today).

After long research I found a couple of very useful workarounds (each one with PRO’s and Drawbacks):

  1. First one is based on open every single edited photo (one-by-one) with a thirty party dedicated iOS photo editing app and re-save it without adding any extra modifications. This will create a copy in your Camera Roll with the XMP/AAE changes already applied on them, so later you will only need to delete the original photos and import the re-saved versions.
  2. Second option is to use some kind of transferring files iOS app to send your Camera Roll photos to your computer, but keeping the modifications stored on the sidecar AAE file, which is the tricky part, because the thirty party transferring app must support that.

For both cases I find out an app which really makes an excellent job without impacting the Quality neither Compression ratio in the Photos stored JPG images:

1) Darkroom – Photo Editor (free): This Photo editor makes a perfect job opening native edited photos and re-saving the photos to keep the changes, it is incredible fast and it has a very small app size (which makes it faster). Moreover, in case you could need it, it can also edit your pictures and has very nice features/filters, Bergen Co. developer studio made a very good job (remember that the app is 100% add-free; with only “Curves” extra-photo editing feature as possible In-App purchase if you wish; but you don’t need it for our case).

Of course, this is more tedious than a direct transfer, but it is a fully free solution, and works!


2) Photo Transfer App ($2.99): This is a wireless transfer iOS app that will allow you to transfer wirelessly all your Photos app modified photos (and videos) without losing the changes neither quality to/from your computer. You can do it with a free MAC/PC dedicated application, or even directly from your web browser (which I tried and works flawlessly well). I must to admit that ERClab, LLC. studio made a wonderful job and this app is really what you were looking for; but in this case it is not free.


Anyhow, I don’t find the price excessive at all, in fact it is a real worth for your iOS device app collection because the app works smoothly, the company provides very good support and it solves flawlessly this “lack feature” that iOS has today up to version v9.3.2 (and only Apple knows until then as it began since iOS6 and remains).

I don’t recommend anybody to invest hours and hours surfing inside Apple Store to find the perfect Photo Editing and/or Transfer app (as I deeply did) only to save a couple of bucks (if that could be the case, because maybe there is not any better transferring app available as far as I know); but use any of these those approaches based in my long research and deep trial, which works awesome well!

Before I finish, it is true that some colleagues firstly recommended me to use intermediate Cloud web-based solutions as ‘iCloud’, ‘Dropbox’,…, or sending me every single picture first by e-mail and then re-downloading them to my computer; but that was not what I was looking for, and also more tiring than any of these two approaches presented here.

I hope you find it as useful as they were for me 😉