Getting pictures from your Android phone to your PC can be a daunting task if you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, it’s pretty straightforward once you know where to look.
They say the best camera is the one you have with you, and more often than not that camera is the one built into your smartphone. If you end up shooting a lot of pictures or videos with your phone, you’ll undoubtedly want to get those pictures onto your PC at some point.
There’s no shortage of ways to automatically back up your images to the cloud (and then move them from the cloud to your PC), but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Instead, we’re going to look at how to get pictures from your phone to your computer via a simple, old school USB transfer.
Regardless of which method you choose below, you’ll need to make sure your phone is ready to transfer pictures. Go ahead and connect your phone to your computer with a USB cable. Then, pull down the notification shade and make sure the option to transfer images is selected. The option may actually be named “Transfer images,” but it could also be named “MTP,” “PTP,” or even just “File transfer.” They all basically do the same thing.
Method One: Use Microsoft Photos
If you’re into letting software do the majority of the work for you, Microsoft Photos is probably the easiest way to go about getting pictures from your phone to your computer. Photos is probably already installed on your PC and is super easy to use. And if it’s not on your PC, you can get it for free from the Microsoft Store (the one on your computer, not to be confused with the other Microsoft Store).
With your phone plugged into your computer and in the correct mode (as highlighted above), click the “Import” button in the upper right corner of Photos.
On the menu that pops up, select the “From a USB device” option.
Photos should scan for USB devices, and then load a list. Select your phone.
After you select a device, Photos immediately starts looking for images stored on the phone. This could take a bit of time, so just let it do its thing.
When the photos list loads up, go through and click on all the photos you’d like to import. If you know you want them all, just use the “Select All” link at the top. You can also hit the “Select New” link to select only images that are new since your last import session (i.e., those that Photos has not transferred before). Obviously, if you’ve never used this feature before, all your photos will be new and those two options will do the same thing.
By default, Photos creates a new folder named according to the year and month when the pictures were taken, and places that new folder in the Pictures folder on your PC. So, if this is the first time you’ve used Photos to import pictures, be ready for it to create several new folders. It’s not an ideal organization, but it beats having everything dumped into a single folder.
You can, however, change this organization. Just click the “Change how they’re organized” link at the bottom. From here, you can choose a new folder if you’d like, as well as a different sorting option. For more granular organization, you can choose date (which will end up creating a lot of different folders), or you organize them by year to minimize the number of new folders.
With your images and organization options selected, tap the “Import Selected” button at the bottom. Poof—like magic, the photos are imported to your computer.
Couldn’t be easier.
Method Two: Manually Copy/Paste Images in Explorer
If you prefer to have as much control as possible over how your photos are organized, you’ll want to import everything manually.
To do this, once again make sure your phone is in the correct mode and ready to transfer images. From there, open Windows Explorer and head to “This PC.”
Your phone should be listed as a device. Depending on how the USB transfer option is set, the icon may look like a camera, a portable media player, or maybe even another drive. The icon isn’t that important, though—just pay attention to the name.
Once you open the device, you’ll see a drive named “Phone.” Open that.
To find the images, look for the DCIM folder.
In the DCIM folder, open the “Camera” folder.
Select all the images you’d like to transfer. Just as in other Windows folders, you can select a range of photos by clicking the first photo you want, and then Shift+clicking the last photo in the range. Or, you can select multiple photos one at a time by Ctrl+clicking them.
After selecting your photos, right click on one of the selected images, and then select the “Copy” command (you can also just hit Ctrl+C). If you’d like to move photos instead of copying them (which removes them from the phone), use the “Cut” command instead.
Navigate to the folder where you’d like the pictures to go, right click any empty space in the folder, and then choose the “Paste” command (or hit Ctrl+V).
After a few seconds (or minutes, depending on how many images you’re transferring) all the pictures should be in their new home. And of course, if you prefer dragging and dropping rather than copying and pasting, you could can also open a couple of File Explorer windows and just drag the photos the way you would any other files.