How to Import Pictures

By David Wayne

Windows can be configured to import pictures automatically whenever you connect a camera, smartphone or card reader to your computer. If you have a smartphone, you can sync your photos with a cloud storage service and then import them from the cloud. Some smartphone apps transfer photos over a Wi-Fi network so you don't have to connect the phone to your computer. Cameras are typically limited to wired connections; if yours doesn't have a USB jack or you don't have the right cable, take out the memory card and insert it into a USB card reader.

Syncing Pictures With a Computer

Modern operating systems make importing pictures from cameras and smartphones a simple, painless process. Windows natively supports most devices, including smartphones not natively supported by OS X or Linux, so importing pictures is only a matter of connecting your device with its USB cable and choosing which pictures to import. OS X natively recognizes most cameras, but you may need to install Android File Transfer to import pictures from some early Android models to a Mac. Find out if OS X supports your Android by connecting it to a USB port and opening Image Capture. If the sidebar displays your Android in the Devices section, you don't need Android File Transfer.

Connecting a Camera or Smartphone Through USB

The first time you connect a device to a Windows computer, AutoPlay asks what you want to do. Click the notification message and choose “Import Photos and Videos” to automatically import pictures whenever you connect the device. If your device doesn't have a USB cable, either replace the cable or buy a compatible memory card reader. A card reader works with a memory card and a picture-taking device with a memory card slot. When you connect the card reader to your computer, Windows recognizes it as a camera and imports photos from it to your Pictures library. Before storing photos on a memory card, format the card by inserting it in your camera and choosing the “Format” option from your camera's settings menu. You only need to format new, unformatted cards.

Importing Recent Photos

Launch Photos if it doesn't launch automatically when you connect your device to your computer. Right-click anywhere on the screen to show the import options and select “Import.” Photos searches your device for pictures it hasn't already imported and selects them all by default. Clicking a photo thumbnail toggles its selection and clicking “Clear Selection” deselects all photos. When you import photos, Windows creates a new folder in your Pictures library. Name that folder by entering a new name in the text box next to the Import button. After selecting photos and naming the folder, click “Import” to copy the photos to Windows.

Wirelessly Transfer Photos

Windows includes a free file-syncing application called OneDrive, which is available for Android, iOS and Windows mobile devices. After installing OneDrive to your smartphone, open the Settings menu and select “Upload” for Android or “Add Items” for iOS to upload existing photos from your phone to OneDrive. From the Settings menu, activate “Camera Backup” to automatically upload new photos as you take them. On your computer, open OneDrive and select the “Pictures” folder. You can also access OneDrive by opening File Explorer and selecting “OneDrive” from the sidebar. Use this feature to drag files between your PC and OneDrive.