How to Transfer Photos from Android to PC
Android smartphones take some fantastic pictures these days, especially with evolving technology and multiple lenses. Sometimes, you want to see your photos on a bigger screen, and you also want to preserve your data in case something goes wrong with your phone. That’s where the PC gets involved.
Transferring photos from your Android phone to your desktop is easy, and there are many different ways to do so. If you need your pictures immediately, the “wired” method is best. The second method involves setting your phone up to back up your photos over Wi-Fi for easy access wherever you go.
In this article we’ll cover everything you need to know about transferring photos from your Android device to a computer.
Method 1: Transfer Android Photos to PC via 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 Photos via USB on Android 10 and Above
- 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 File Explorer.
Transfer Photos using Android 6 (Marshmallow) USB to PC
- To start, open your computer’s “File Explorer“, you’ll find your device listed on the left-side panel. If you’re using a phone with 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 you’ll want to select that menu if you keep them on your phone.
- 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 reside in folders titled “Screenshots” and “Downloads.”
- If you keep your photos on an SD card, you might find the folders back on your phone’s internal memory. Each file will have a thumbnail of the image, 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 usually do and drag them to a folder or location on your PC (Photos, Desktop, Documents, etc.)
- Once you’ve dragged your files to your computer, 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 process takes time, depending on how many photos you’re copying over (the more you copy, the more your time).
- Once you complete the transferring process of 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 finish transferring before you do so.
Method 2: Transfer Android Photos to PC using Google Photos
Aside from USB to PC file transfers, cloud storage doesn’t require any hookups whatsoever, but it does require a little patience when transferring photo to PC. Of course, an internet connection is essential. However, planned changes to Google Photos altered the way the company handles your images.
Towards the end of 2020, Google established a future shift in the personal cloud storage terms and conditions, reflecting the elimination of free/unlimited Google Photos storage for images. This policy went into effect on June 1, 2021, but any current images remain in Photos, unaffected by the newer policy.
Understanding Google Photos Quality Options
Google offers two distinct settings for uploading photos: Storage saver (formerly named High quality) and Original quality.
About Google Photos Storage Saver
The “Storage saver” setting makes compressed copies of your files and saves them to your Google Storage account (combined space from Drive, Photos, and a Google One subscription). These photos get resized to 16MP, which means that most smartphone photos won’t lose resolution or quality. Videos get compressed to 1080p (if recorded at a higher resolution, like 4K) and retain their quality, despite the compression.
About Google Photos Original Quality
The “Original quality” setting preserves your resolutions without any compression at all. If you’re a professional photographer or need images at a higher resolution than 16MP, you can set Google Photos to upload your pictures in the original quality. These uploads utilize your Google Storage space (15GB free across Drive, Photos, and Google One subscriptions). Every Google user has 15GB of free Google storage, and monthly plans from Google One increase the storage limits from 100GB to as much as 2TB. There are other storage options, but most users aren’t going to need more than two terabytes of cloud capacity.
How to Use Google Photos to Transfer Images from Android to PC
For 95% of users, leaving Google Photos set to the default settings and on the “Storage saver” option is good enough. To transfer photos from Android to your PC using Gogole Photos, you upload them to your Google Storage account, then download them to your PC. It’s a very easy process. As previously mentioned, some patience is required, but you can speed up the process a little bit too. Here’s what to do.
- On your Android device, snap the screenshot you want to transfer to PC, take a picture, or just move to the next step for transferring existing photos.
- Launch “Google Photos” on your Android device. This step prompts Photos to automatically sync any new images to the cloud rather than wait until it decides to sync them in the background.
- Open your preferred browser on your PC and head to Google Photos. Log in using the same Android account (if not already logged in) that holds your photos.
- Browse for the images you want to transfer to your PC and click on each week’s, day’s, or thumbnail’s “circled checkmark.” This step adds a checkmark to each selected item. Simply clicking an image opens it rather than selects it.
- In the top-right section of the page, click on the “vertical ellipsis” (three vertical dots) and select “Download.”
- Your photos now start to download to your PC in a zipped file, unless you only selected one image.
- Open the downloaded zip folder to view the photos or move it anywhere you want. You can also extrract the images and place them in a different folder on your PC.
Using Google Photos to transfer images from your Android device to your PC is fairly straightforward. The patience required depends on what photos you want to transfer. There is no “Select All” option here, so you’d need to manually choose your images, but you at least have the secondary option to select weeks and days.
There is a second option within Google Photos called “Google Takeout,” which is actually part of Google as a whole. Using Takeout downloads all stored photos to your PC in one swift swoop. You can customize what gets backed up by folder name or year. Here’s how to do it.
- Access your synced Android photos by going directly to Google Photos from a browser.
- Click on “Settings” (gear icon) in the top-right section of Google Photos.
- In the “Export your data” row, click on “Show more” (downward arrowhead).
- Select “Backup.”
- Click on “All photo albums included” to choose which folders you want to download to your PC.
- Check off all folders you want to back up (download to PC).
- Click on “Next step.“
- Choose “Export once.” from the “Frequency” section. You can also choose other options such as file type and delivery method.
- Click on “Create export” when ready, the photos will get backed up onto your PC.
- The “Export progress” section displays the current status of your download.
- Lastly, click on the “Download” link to copy your photos to your PC.
Upon completing the steps above, you have uploaded photos from your Android device to Google Photos, then backed them up to your PC. In other words, you have successfully transferred Android photos to your PC wirelessly!
Method Three: Transfer Images to Amazon Photos
Amazon offers cloud storage for images just like Google, and the app is called Amazon Photos. Many will flock to Amazon’s free cloud storage with the future changes to Google Photos, 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, including 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 do. Amazon Photos is also a great way to manage your photos, edit them, and apply effects. If you’re looking for a way to get your photos onto your PC, you’ll be happy to know every image is available on Amazon’s web app at any time.
If you need a quick photo transfer, the USB to PC solution is best. However, suppose you’re looking for a photo backup solution or have the time to move your library to the cloud. In that case, Google Photos and Amazon Photos are excellent methods for 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.