How to Download Full-Res Images From Dropbox to Your iPad

Dropbox to goodreader

Dropbox is a great tool for moving files between different operating systems, but it isn’t perfect. If you use the Dropbox iPad app, then you may have noticed one glaring weakness: if you download images to your iPad’s Camera Roll via the app, you’ll find that the image quality is horrible. Yes, the Dropbox iPad app downconverts your images, leaving you with, in technical terms, crappy photos. There are at least a couple of workarounds, though.

I first noticed this problem in my never-ending quest to get images from my Android phone onto my iPad. I’ve previously written about how to do this both with and without wires. Dropbox seemed like the next logical solution to the problem. I uploaded my photos to a Dropbox folder from my Android phone, using the Dropbox Android app. I then downloaded the photos to my iPad using the Dropbox iPad app, only to see the horrible image quality.

Workaround #1 is to just visit your Dropbox account in Safari, instead of using the iPad app. From there you can click the link to each photo to display it, one at a time. Then perform a long press on each photo after it loads and select”Save Image.” That will send each photo into your camera roll.

Dropbox web interface

Workaround #2 is to use Goodreader, a PDF reader for the iPad that is more of an uber file and document manager. With Goodreader, you can input your Dropbox credentials, browse your Dropbox files, and download full resolution copies of your photos.

In Goodreader, add your Dropbox account in the “Connect to Server” section by clicking the “Add” button. Once you’ve entered your credentials and logged into your Dropbox account, browse through your Dropbox folders in Goodreader until you find your photos. Tap on each photo that you want to download (you can select multiple photos), and click the “Download” button. Choose where you want the photos to be saved in Goodreader, and then click the next download button.

Goodreader save dialog


You can then Close Goodreader’s Dropbox window. Go to the “My Documents” pane in Goodreader, and browse to the location where you just saved the photos. One by one, you can load each photo, and tap on the camera icon to save it to your Camera Roll.

Goodreader photo browser 1


Goodreader costs $4.99 in the App Store, but it is a worthwhile investment, given how versatile it is.

Do you have another method for getting photos onto your iPad? If so, let us know in the comments.

Evan Kline

Hello, I'm Evan. I write about tech from my perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. You can also find me on Twitter and at my real-life job as a lawyer.    MORE ABOUT ME.


  1. I have never really tried this way… as I usually use android operating system and I still haven’t faced any problem yet….

  2. Thanx for this…I was trying to transfer videos I took with my iPhone to my iPad, via Dropbox…and there doesn’t seem to be a way to export them from Dropbox to the iPad’s Photo app. This was really helpful, and since I’m relatively new to Dropbox I hadn’t noticed the resolution degradation issue yet, but now I can avoid it. But what worked for me was to download the file into Good Reader…which I had, but had never really used, and then use Good Reader’s file manager to open it in Photo Manager Pro, which then gave me a way to export it to the Camera roll. It’s awkward taking videos with the iPad…and equally awkward trying to edit them down on an iPhone…the little frame sliders and controls are too small to tap. Thanx again for the great info!

  3. I have one question concerning the Goodreader workaround. Does this method retain the date taken of the photo? I know when i import to Camera Roll from Photostream, it changes the date taken to the date imported. I want a solution that will retain the date taken. Thanks for the post.

  4. A million thanks for this post, Evan! I have ruined more than one photo since I didn’t know this downsize-default-problem but suddenly discovered the images were… really bad when downloading them to the ipad camera roll.

    I use Dropbox on a daily basis, and GoodReader not as often but almost, so this workaround suits me perfectly!

  5. I tried using the iPad Dropbox method and found that you can’t simply hold on the picture to save but first need to click on download and then hold and save on the larger image that is then displayed. The method listed above was still downloading the lower quality image to my camera roll. Has anyone else found the same thing?

  6. Another point: Transferring more than one photo is tedious, since they all have to be selected individually. That is why we are building an iPhone-App that downloads all photos in one particular folder (pics2phone) from Dropbox to your iPhone’s Album-app (no downscaling). If you create subfolders, these are also replicated as photo-albums to the iPhone locally. It’s nice for editing photos taken with an SLR-camera with instagram or other photo-apps.
    Subscribe to our launch-page and follow us on twitter

  7. In the dropbox client for iPad, I click the little star to add the video to my favourites, and dropbox fully downloads the video into the device at its original resolution and quality.

    • Thank you for letting us know. I think I read a while ago that Dropbox was updated to now allow for full resolution, as you noted. I haven’t used my iPad much for photo editing lately, so didn’t know from first hand experience. It is good to hear from someone who tried it.

  8. I must be missing something here. I can find no way to “download images to your iPad’s Camera Roll”. Where is this function?

    • Rich, when browsing a website with Safari, you can long press (i.e. hold your finger on for a few seconds) a photo, to get a popup menu to download it. Or, if you’re asking about downloading from within the Dropbox app, load an image that is saved within your Dropbox account, and there is a button at the top right of the screen. If you tap that, one of the options lets you save it to your library.

      • Evan;
        As the title of this discussion says, “How to Download Full-Res Images From Dropbox to Your iPad”, it was indeed what I needed.
        Thank you sooooo much.
        I swear that selection was not there when I tried it back on Oct. 20.

  9. Thanks a ton for this info.

  10. I have not been able to put jpegs into my photos on ipad. Anyone know how to do that?

    • Susan, take a picture with your iPad and the resulting photo is a jpeg.

      I still do not see any way to download photos from Dropbox to an iPad.
      PLEASE, someone enlighten me on this.

  11. Rich, see my reply above from just a few minutes ago. You need to load the image in Dropbox, and then tap the icon at the top right to get the “save to photo library” option. Here is a screenshot that might help:

    • Evan;
      I upgraded to iOS7 and now there is no “tap the icon at the top right to get the “add to library” option.” any more. There is a button for airdrop and then a “Save Image” button that puts the photo into your Camera Roll.
      But if you select “Open In…” it says it is “Exporting”. Where does it export to?

  12. I sell on eBay and use my iPad 2 to create all of my listings except for taking photos, as the quality of the pics are poor on my iPad. I use my husbands Android Galaxy 4 cell (have the same dropbox account installed on both devices) bc the camera on that phone is amazing. Problem is, I have to download or save the photos to my camera roll on my iPad that I took on his phone one by one through Dropbox. Quite timely! Would love a way to select all of the photos that I want to save on my iPad at once. Any suggestions? I take a lot of pictures at many different angles and the process of saving them one by one wastes a lot of time. Seems like there should be an easier way……

  13. Is there any way to check the resolution of a photo once it’s it has been moved from Dropbox into your camera roll?

    • I’m not aware of a way to do it with the default Photos app, but other apps, such as iPhoto for iOS, have an Information button that will give you resolution info.

  14. Pingback: Introduction How To Copy Photos From Dropbox To Ipad Photo | Get Your iPad Now

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  16. Hi there, there’s a new iOS app called Grab for Dropbox which downloads entire folders of photos & videos directly to your iPad, iPhone, or iPod. It does not change the resolution of the photos or videos. It’s really helpful when you have a lot of media to download, especially if you’ve organized it into lots of sub-folders! You can learn more here:

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