How to Transfer Photos From Any Phone to Your Computer

Quickly move photos off your iOS or Android phone and onto your computer

What To Know

  • Android to PC: Unlock, connect, and switch the phone to file transfer. Win 10 will set it up. Go to Explorer > This PC > Your Phone.
  • Android to Mac: Download Android File Transfer. Connect your phone, and go to Finder > Applications > Android File Transfer.
  • iPhone to PC: With iTunes for PC, connect, and tap Trust on the phone. Open Photos > Import > From a USB... Pick the photos, and Import.

This article explains how to transfer photos from an iOS or Android smartphone to a PC or Mac. It covers every combination of computer and mobile device as well as email transfers and AirDrop.

How to Transfer Photos From an Android Phone to a PC

You don't need special software. You can transfer photos from your Android phone to a PC using the cord that came with the phone.

  1. Unlock your phone with your password or fingerprint.

  2. Connect the Android phone to the computer using a micro-USB or USB-C to USB cord. Ideally, this is the same cord that came with your phone.

  3. Swipe down from the top of the screen on the Android device. At the bottom of the notification list, select Android System USB charging this device.

  4. A new modal window opens, listing the options for how the device can handle the USB connection. Choose Transfer files.

    The Transfer files option
  5. A notification appears on Windows letting you know that the system is setting up the device.

    Android device connected to Windows 10
  6. When you see the notification from Windows letting you know that the device is ready, open Windows Explorer to access your files.

  7. When Windows Explorer opens up, select This PC from the left menu pane.

    "This PC" in Windows
  8. Choose your device under Devices and drives.

    An Android phone in Windows Devices
  9. Choose the Android device's internal storage.

    Select Android internal storage on Windows 10
  10. The root of the Android device's SD card user storage appears in Windows Explorer. You can access photos on the device in DCIM and any downloaded pictures and screenshots under Pictures. Copy and paste any of these files onto your Windows PC.

    DCIM and Pictures folders in an Android phone

How to Transfer Photos From an Android Phone to a Mac

Depending on the age of your Apple computer, the first thing you'll need is a cord that converts from micro-USB to whichever input your computer accepts.

This cord can range from a regular USB port to Thunderbolt to the latest USB-C models. For USB-C devices, use your existing cord and purchase a cheap adapter that is compatible with USB.

Cheaper connections can negatively impact connections. Amazon generally has what you need. If you have trouble finding the right hardware, consider purchasing a proprietary adapter from Apple.

When you have the right cord, transferring photos from your Android phone to a Mac or other Apple computer requires only a few steps:

  1. Download Android File Transfer and follow the installation instructions. You can also use Samsung Smart Switch.

  2. Connect your Android device to your computer.

  3. If the program doesn't launch automatically, go to Finder > Applications and click the software you installed.

    The Android File Transfer app in macOS Finder
  4. You'll see your phone's files and can drag files to Finder or the desktop on your Mac computer.

Typically your phone's photos are found in DCIM > Camera within your phone's folders.

You can also transfer photos from your Android to a computer using Bluetooth or OneDrive.

How to Transfer Photos From an iPhone to a Mac

iOS devices tend to work well with each other. Here's how to transfer photos from an iPhone to a Mac computer.

  1. Connect the iPhone to the computer with the cord it came with. If you have a newer Apple computer, you might need an adapter.

  2. Unlock the phone. If a prompt appears, tap Trust to confirm the device you're connected to is safe.

  3. The Photos app should open automatically. If not, open it by clicking the Photos icon in the Dock, Finder window, or Launchpad.

  4. Under the Import to menu, choose whether to move photos to your general Photos library or a new folder in it.

    The Import to menu in Photos
  5. Optionally, select the Delete items after import check box to remove the photos from your phone after they transfer to Photos.

    The "Delete items after import" option in Photos
  6. To import every photo on your phone that isn't already in your Photos library, click Import All New Items.

    The "Import All New Items" button in Photos
  7. To only import certain images, click them (click and drag to choose multiples), and then click Import Selected.

    The "Import selected" button in Photos
  8. Photos will bring in the images. You can find them later on the Imports tab under the date you imported them.

    A photo import in Photos

Once connected, open a Finder window at any time and click iPhone (or whatever you named your device) to access its photos and other files.

How to Transfer Photos From Your iPhone to a PC

Moving pictures from an iPhone to a PC isn't too difficult, but there are a couple of additional steps.

  1. iTunes must be installed on the computer. Ensure it's installed and is the most updated version.

  2. Connect the iPhone with a USB cable, using an adapter if needed.

  3. Unlock the iPhone.

  4. A prompt may appear asking if you trust the connected computer. If it does, tap Trust.

  5. On Windows 10 or Windows 8, open the Photos app. Select the Start button (the one that looks like a Windows OS logo) and choose Photos.

    Photos in the Windows 10 Start menu
  6. Select Import > From a USB Device.

    The "From a USB device" option under the Import menu in Windows 10 Photos
  7. Windows will check your phone for new items.

  8. The Import items window will open. Use the Select menu to quickly highlight all items or the ones since your last import.

    The Select menu in Photos for Windows 10
  9. To only import certain images, keep the Select menu set to None and click the selection boxes next to the photos you want to transfer.

    Click the box next to a date to select every image beneath it.

    The selection box in Windows 10 Photos
  10. Click the Import button to start the transfer.

    The Import button
  11. On Windows 7, connect the phone and wait for the AutoPlay prompt to appear. Select Import pictures and videos using Windows. Choose the photos you want to import or choose Select All, and then select Import.

How to Use Airdrop to Transfer Photos From Your iPhone to a Mac Computer

There is one additional wireless option for Apple users. You can use Airdrop to transfer images between devices.

If Airdrop isn't enabled on your iPhone, go to Settings > General > AirDrop. From here, you can enable and disable Airdrop and control who can see your device.

  1. On the iPhone, open the Photos app and select the All Photos album.

  2. Tap Select.

  3. Choose the photos you want to share. Tap and drag to select multiple images quickly.

  4. Select the Share icon.

    Selecting photos and the Share button in iOS Photos
  5. Tap the name of your Mac on the top row of the Share menu. Your iPhone will transmit the photos after a few seconds.

    Sending photos via AirDrop on an iPhone
  6. Photos you transfer to your Mac will appear in your Mac's Downloads folder.

How to Transfer Photos From Your Phone to Computer Using Email

You can use the email app of your choice on your phone to send pictures to your computer. This eliminates the need for wires and adapters. However, this method only works when transferring one or two photos. Your email has a size limit for attachments, which photos can quickly exceed.

On Gmail, you can attach as many pictures as you want. Gmail automatically creates a Google Drive folder with all your photos if the size gets too big.

  1. Open the email app of your choice.

  2. Add your email address as the recipient.

  3. For the subject line, use something related to what you're sending so that you know what email to look out for.

  4. Select the paperclip icon to attach a photo. Find the photo in your gallery and confirm it's the one you want to send.

    The Attach File button in an email on an Android device
  5. Send the email. You don't need to add text in the body of the email.

  6. On your computer, go to your email and find the email you sent yourself.

    Email from phone open on desktop
  7. Hover the mouse cursor over the photo and select Download or the download icon (typically looks like an arrow pointing down), then select where you want to save the photo on the computer. This is the same whether you use a Mac or a PC.

    Download picture sent from phone on computer

How to Transfer Photos From Your Phone to Computer Using Wireless Apps

There are other options available if you prefer to avoid cords and don't want to email photos.

If you transfer photos from Android to Mac, try the AirDroid app. You'll need an AirDroid account, the devices you're transferring photos between must be on the same Wi-Fi network, and AirDroid must be installed on both devices.

For iPhone to Mac transfers, the method is simple to enable iCloud. This stores your photos in the cloud, and devices connected to your Apple account can access those photos.

If you transfer photos from an iOS or Android phone to a PC, you need Windows 10 to go wireless. Download and set up the Microsoft Phone Companion app and follow the instructions.

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