How to Transfer Photos from Android to PC
Android smartphones take some amazing pictures these days, especially with evolving technology and multiple lenses. Sometimes, you just want to see your photos on a bigger screen, and you also want to preserve your data in case your phone goes bad. That’s where the PC gets involved. Transferring photos from your Android phone to your PC is really easy, and there are many different ways to do so. If you need your photos immediately, the “wired” method is best. The second method involves setting your phone up to backup your photos over WiFi for easy access wherever you go.
Method One: Transfer Android Photos using a USB Cable
Transferring over a cable is the fastest and most efficient method to get to your photos when you want immediate access. Besides your computer and phone, all you need is a USB cable to run from your phone to your computer. Typically, you’re best off using the cable that came with your phone for charging. Unplug the standard USB-A connector (the bigger side) from your AC adapter and plug it into the port on your PC.
Once you’ve plugged your phone into your PC, ensure you’ve unlocked your phone. Use your fingerprint, PIN, pattern, or whatever lock-screen input you use so your PC has access to the phone.
You may need to change your device’s USB options. The process varies based on your Android version. Here are a couple of examples.
Transfer Files using Android 10 USB to PC
- Plug the phone’s USB charging cable into your PC or laptop, and then go to “Settings.” Tap on “Connected devices, even though it shows Bluetooth below it.
- Select “USB” from the menu.
- Choose “File Transfer” from the list of options.
- Your PC should now display your Android 10 smartphone as a device in Explorer.
Transfer Files using Android 6 USB to PC
Next, open your computer’s file browser. You’ll find your device listed on the left-side panel. If you’re using a phone with both internal memory and an SD card, you’ll see two different systems to browse. On my PC, they’re (helpfully) labeled “Phone” and “Card.” I store my photos on my SD card, but if you store them on your phone, you’ll want to select that menu.
Once you’re inside your phone’s file system, you’ll want to look for a folder titled “DCIM,” which stands for Digital Camera Images. That folder will hold all of your camera’s images, though it won’t hold other files, like screenshots or downloads (typically, those are found in folders titled, respectively, “Screenshots” and “Downloads.”
If you keep your photos on an SD card, you might find these folders back on your phone’s internal memory). Each file will have a thumbnail of the photo, and you’ll be able to sort by date, name, size, etc., just like any other folder on your PC. Once you’ve found the photo or photos (or if you want to copy everything to your PC), make your selections as you would normally and drag them to a folder or location on your PC (Photos, Desktop, Documents, etc).
Once you’ve dragged your files to your computer, you’re done. They’ve been copied—not deleted or moved, just copied—from your phone to your PC, where you can edit or print them as you like. This may take some time, depending on how many photos you’re copying over (the more photos, the more time). Once you’re done transferring your photos, you can unplug your phone—as with most modern smartphones, you don’t need to eject your device to remove it safely. Just make sure your files are done transferring before you do so.
Method Two: Transfer using Google Photos
Aside from USB to PC file transfers, cloud storage doesn’t require any hookups whatsoever. You just need an internet connection. Google Photos is one of the most popular cloud storage options for transferring photos to the PC. However, planned changes to Google Photos has altered the way the company handles your images. Towards the end of 2020, Google established a future change to the terms and conditions of their personal cloud storage, which reflects the elimination of free/unlimited Google Photos storage for images. This policy goes into effect on June 1, 2021, but any current images remain in Photos, unaffected by the new policy.
Google offers two distinct settings for uploading photos: High Quality and Original.
The “High Quality” setting makes compressed copies of your files and saves them to your Google account. These photos are resized to 16MP, which means that most smartphone photos won’t see any decrease in resolution or quality. Videos, meanwhile, will be compressed to 1080p (if they’re recorded at a higher resolution, like 4K), and will also retain their quality, despite the compression.
The “Original” setting preserves your resolutions without any compression at all. If you’re a professional photographer, or you need images at a higher resolution than 16MP, you can set Google Photos to upload your images at the original resolution. These uploads utilize your Google Drive storage. Every Google user has 15GB of free Drive storage, and monthly plans with additional storage are available: $1.99/month for 100GB or $9.99/month for two terabytes of cloud storage. There are additional storage options, but most users aren’t going to need more than two terabytes of cloud capacity.
For 95% of users, leaving Google Photos set to the default settings and on the “High Quality” option is good enough. Google Photos is about keeping things simple. Once you have the app installed, follow the instructions on your device to begin backing up your photos. Google Photos allows you to control when photos are uploaded to your digital locker; by default, it will upload anytime the phone is connected to WiFi, but you can add restrictions such as charging-only, or even allow the device to upload over mobile data. As with most Google applications, you can control when and what the app does.
Method Three: Transfer Images to Amazon Photos
Amazon offers cloud storage for images just like Google, and the app is called Amazon Photos. With the future changes to Google Photos, many will flock to Amazon’s free cloud storage, assuming they have a Prime membership. With Prime, you get unlimited, full-resolution image storage in the cloud. Without Prime, users only get 5 GB of space, which is less than Google Photos that includes 15 GB of storage. However, Amazon uses the cloud for images only, whereas Google uses Drive for all your data.
After the phone ends its initial backup (which I recommend doing overnight), there’s isn’t too much more to fuss with. Amazon Photos is also a great way to manage your photos, edit them, and apply effects. If you’re just looking for a way to get your photos onto your PC, you’ll be happy to know every photo is available on Amazon’s web app at any time.
If you find yourself in need of a quick photo transfer, the USB to PC solution is best. However, if you’re looking for a photo backup solution, or you have the time to move your library to the cloud, Google Photos and Amazon Photos are great methods to keeping your library safe and clean. Saving your photos has never been easier, and now you can view them on any display that suits you.