How to Get Pictures From My Android Phone to My Computer

By James T Wood

"The best camera is the one that's with you," says photographer Chase Jarvis. For most people that means a mobile phone, but once the pictures are taken you need to move them to a place where you can manipulate and share them. Android phones allow you to transfer photos to your computer via a USB connection, over Wi-Fi or using a cloud service to upload your photos. Earlier versions of Android may not work with modern cloud services or Wi-Fi transfer apps, but any version of Android will work with the USB cable.

USB Connection

Step 1

Connect your phone's USB cable to your computer and your Android phone. If your computer does not have the necessary device drivers for your phone, download and install them before continuing (see link in Resources).

Step 2

Unlock your Android phone and drag your finger from the top of the screen to the bottom to open the notification area. Touch the notification with the USB icon next to it.

Step 3

Enable your phone as a mass storage device, if necessary. Older versions of Android require you to use the phone as an external drive, while newer versions automatically enable the phone as a media device.

Step 4

Browse to the list of drives on your computer and select the drive that corresponds with your Android phone. Locate the folder where the pictures are stored. Camera photos are most often stored in the DCIM folder. Other photos -- for example screenshots or downloaded photos -- may be in the Pictures folder or in the Media folder.

Step 5

Select the photos you wish to transfer, press "Ctrl-C" to copy the images or "Ctrl-X" to remove the images from your phone. Browse to the folder on your computer where you want to store the pictures and press "Ctrl-V" to paste the image there.

Wi-Fi Transfer

Step 1

Install an app to your phone to turn it into a Wi-Fi file server that can transfer files to and from your computer. WiFi File Explorer works with Android phones running 1.6 -- Doughnut -- or later, WiFi File Transfer runs on devices with version 2.1 or later and ES File has different versions for the various Android operating systems (see links in Resources).

Step 2

Connect your Android phone to the same Wi-Fi network as your computer. Launch the file transfer app on your phone and find the URL listed for file management. For WiFi File Explorer and WiFi File Transfer, start the file server. On ES File Explorer, navigate to the Remote Manager and turn on the feature.

Step 3

Enter the URL listed on your phone's app into a browser window on your computer. When the page loads, you will see the files on your phone. Locate the picture files you want to transfer and use the interface to transfer them to your computer.

Cloud Storage

Step 1

Use either the integrated cloud storage or a third-party application to automatically back up your photos to a server connected to the Internet so you can download your photos from any computer. The Google+ App includes automatic backup of your photos and syncing with your Google account, Dropbox allows you to automatically back up photos taken from your phone, and Microsoft's OneDrive has an automatic camera upload feature (see links in Resources).

Step 2

Install the app you want on your phone, log in to the app and open the app's settings. Ensure that the app is set to sync your photos with your account, so that all new photos that you take on your Android phone are automatically uploaded to your account and then accessible from your computer or other connected device. Note that this feature uses data, so if you have limited data on your phone's service plan, you may want to set the app to upload pictures only when you have a Wi-Fi connection.

Step 3

Log in to your account for the cloud service on your computer and, after a short time, the images from your phone will display. If you have a syncing service like Dropbox or OneDrive, the images are copied to your computer automatically when your phone uploads them.

Tips & Warnings

  • For a one-off transfer, you can email a photo to yourself using the email app on your phone.