Now that every smartphone has at least one camera built into it, we’re taking more photos than ever. The downside is that these photos, collectively over time, take up a lot of room. Throw in videos, time-lapses, and burst shots, and you’ll easily fill up a 16GB device. The cause is that users don’t edit or delete their photos, turning their phones into digital graveyards. If you want to archive your photos to use later – whether to share or edit – make it a habit to get them off your phone. It will not only free up space, but you can store them safely for future viewing. There are a few ways to transfer photos from your Android phone to your computer, and they’re all pretty easy, so take your pick and start shooting.
One of the beautiful features of the Android operating system is its mostly unfettered access to the file system. The fact that you can simply plug your phone into your computer using the included USB cable makes it easy to download any and all images and drag them into any desktop app or your file system for safekeeping. If you’re using Windows, the USB connection auto-prompts will present you with options for managing the device as soon as it’s connected. If you’re on a Mac, there are a few options, one being the Android File Transfer program. We have a handy guide for transferring any type of file from your Android phone to your Mac.
Making a point to transfer photos off a phone and to a computer is the easiest method, but it involves action on your part.
It isn’t the most elegant solution, but if you only need to transfer over an image or two, and you only do it sporadically, then you can easily use your email. Depending on your email provider, the exact process may vary, but it’s a simple process no matter which app you use. Compose a new email, and enter your email address as the recipient.
Tap on the menu button to bring up a context menu, and then select “Attach file” to add a picture to your email, or if you’re in Gmail, you can capture a photo right from that menu.
Send the email, and a few short minutes later you’ll see the email pop up in your inbox for you to open from another phone or your computer. Note that you are sending a large file, and some email services have a limit on the file size you can send.
If backing up every photo is the goal, there are two easy options for making it happen automatically. The first option is to use the Google Drive to automatically store your photos and videos, which is easy to do from the photos app that came installed on your phone. In the app, press the menu button or icon, then open the settings menu. In this menu, you can set the auto backup to be on or off, as well as change the settings that correspond to it. This will automatically upload all of your photos and video to the Google Drive attached to your Google account for easy access from any device or computer.
Your other option is the popular Dropbox app for Android, a free utility that automatically syncs files and photos with the cloud-based server, so you can easily access them anywhere. The advantage of using Dropbox is easy pairing with your computer, allowing you to explore the files you have stored on the cloud from your own desktop without opening a browser, and you can even edit and save them to the cloud as a backup in case something goes wrong with your phone or computer.
Once you’ve downloaded the Dropbox app, you’ll have to either log in to your existing account or make a new one. Either in settings or at the top of the photos and media tab, select “Turn on camera upload” to access the settings that govern what photos get backed up automatically, and whether you want them backed up on cellular data or only over Wi-Fi.
How many photos you can upload depends on the account you have. A free Dropbox account, for example, limits you to 2GB. Amazon Prime members get unlimited storage with a service called Amazon Prime Photos, which works similarly to Dropbox, Google Drive, and other cloud-based solutions.
While applications like Instagram and Facebook will allow you to publicly post the photos you take for your social network, they aren’t great for backing up every shot, especially if you don’t want to share them with everybody you know. Android applications like Flickr not only improve the shots you take with your phone by adding filters and editing tools, but also allow acute control over the publication of your photos while providing a convenient cloud-based backup.
There are numerous photo apps and services available. Some of the ones we like include ThisLife from Shutterfly and Carousel from Dropbox.
Sometimes, nothing else will do besides a good ol’ fashioned external storage device. As connectivity in smartphones increases, so do your options for connecting to different storage methods.
If you find yourself on the go all the time, the Leef Access MicroSD reader is awesome for easily transferring photos between devices while expanding the storage space on your phone. The tiny dongle plugs into the phone’s Micro USB port, while the other end is a MicroSD card reader and a slot for secondary card storage. Once a card is inserted, you can use most file management apps to copy photos (or any files, for that matter) to the card. If you use a high-speed MicroSD card, the transfer process from phone to card is relatively quick.
Taking a ton of photos? Western Digital’s My Passport Wireless provides tons of storage, wireless connectivity, and portability into a single package. With Wi-Fi, you can connect your Android device to the drive (via the WD My Cloud app) and easily copy photos over, as well as music, video, and document files. The built-in battery can power the hard drive for up to 20 hours of standby time, or 6 hours of continuous video streaming. There’s a built-in SD card slot too, to back up the photos from your digital camera without a computer.