How to Transfer Photos from Any Phone to Your Computer

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

An iPhone is connected by USB to a Mac laptop.
Connecting your phone to your computer is just step one of transferring photos to your computer.

 

Chee Tuck Chin/Getty Images

It doesn't matter if you're using an Android or iOS smartphone with a PC or Mac; transferring photos from your phone to your computer is generally a painless process.

Let's get started.

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 will convert from micro-USB to whichever input your computer accepts. 

Android File Transfer is a solid option, provided by Android, for transferring filed from an Android phone to an Apple computer.

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

Note: Cheaper connections can negatively impact your connections. Amazon generally has whatever you need, but if you're having trouble finding the right hardware, you may have to purchase a proprietary adapter directly from Apple.

Once you've got the right cord, transferring photos from your Android phone to a Mac or other Apple computer only requires a few steps:

A screenshot of a Macbook's Applications folder where software has just been installed.
Go to your Applications folder from a Finder window and find the software you downloaded to transfer images.
  1. Download Android File Transfer and follow the installation instructions. You can also use Samsung Smart Switch.
  2. Connect your device to your computer.
  3. If the above program doesn't launch automatically, go to Finder > Applications and click the software you just installed.
  4. You'll now see all of your phone's files and can freely drag them to your Finder or desktop on your Mac computer.
A screenshot of Samsung Smart Switch connecting to a phone.
Samsung Smart Switch for Apple computers will allow you to connect to your Android phone.

How to Transfer Photos from an Android Phone to a PC

No need for special software here, you can easily transfer photos from your Android phone to a PC using the cord that came with your phone.

A screenshot of a phone asking for permission to communicate with a computer.
Tap Allow with your phone unlocked to grant the computer access to your phone's files.
  1. Unlock your phone with your password or fingerprint.
  2. Connect your Android phone to your computer using a micro-USB to USB cord. Ideally, this is the same one that came with your phone.
  3. Your phone will display a message asking to grant the connected computer access to its data (see the above screenshot). Tap Allow.
  4. Select the pop-up that appears on your PC (see the screenshot below). You'll then be presented with a new window with several options. From here, you can import all your photos and video, or scroll down to simply open your phone to find which individual photos you want.
  5. Choose how you want to import photos.
Screenshot of pop-up window in Windows confirming phone connection.
Look for the pop-up window confirming your Android phone is connected.

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

How to Transfer Photos from an iPhone to a Mac

As you might expect, iOS devices tend to play nice with each other. Here's how to transfer photos from an iPhone to Mac computer.

Screenshot of connected iPhone in Finder window on Mac.
You can manually move photos by clicking your device in a Finder window.
  1. Connect your iPhone to the computer with the cord it came with. Remember, if you have a newer Apple computer you might need an adapter.
  2. Unlock your phone and, if a prompt appears, tap Trust to confirm the device you're connected to is safe.
  3. Your Photos app should automatically. If not, open it up by clicking the Photos icon in your dock, Finder window or Launchpad. Choose how you want to import photos and/or videos.
  4. Alternatively, you can drag pictures between folders in a Finder window to move them onto your Mac.

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

How to Transfer Photos from Your iPhone to a PC

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

A screenshot of the Photos app on Windows 10.
Moving photos from iPhone to PC is surprisingly easy, as long as you have everything ready to go.
  1. You must have iTunes installed on your computer. Ensure it's installed and is the most updated version.
  2. Connect your iPhone with a USB cable, using an adapter if needed.
  3. Unlock your 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 by selecting the Start button (the one that looks like a Windows OS logo), then select Photos. Then select Import > From a USB Device. Choose your phone as the source of the transfer.
  6. For Windows 7, connect your phone and wait for the AutoPlay prompt to appear. Select Import pictures and videos using Windows, then select which 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.

A screenshot of Airdrop option on a Mac laptop.
Ensure Airdrop is enabled on your Mac before transferring photos.
  1. On your Mac, open a new Finder window by clicking the Finder icon in the dock (the one that looks two faces overlapping).
  2. Click Airdrop in the left navigation. If Bluetooth isn't already enabled, click Turn on Bluetooth.
  3. You will now see all Airdrop enabled devices on your Mac. Note that you may need to click
  4. On your iPhone, open the Photos app and find the pictures you want to transfer to your computer. Click the Share sheet icon (looks like a rectangle with an arrow pointing up) and from here you can select more pictures to share and how you'd like to share them.
  5. An Airdrop icon will appear just below your selected pictures. For devices that are enabled to share, you just tap that device name and the pictures will transfer right away.
  6. If Airdrop isn't enabled on your iPhone, you will be prompted to enable it from this screen, or go to Settings > General > AirDrop. From here you can enable and disable Airdrop, and control who can see your device.

How to Transfer Photos from Your Phone to Computer Using Email

You can also use the email app of your choice on your phone to send yourself pictures on your computer. This eliminates the need for any wires or funky adapters. However, this method only works if you're transferring one or two photos. Your email will have a size limit for attachments which photos can quickly exceed:

Note: If you use Gmail, you can attach as many as you want. Gmail will automatically create 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 own email address as the recipient.
  3. For the subject line, use something related to what you're sending, so you know what email to look out for.
  4. Select the paperclip icon to attach a photo. Find the right photo in your gallery and confirm it's the one you want to send.
  5. Send the email, as there's no need for text in the body email.
  6. On your computer, go to your email and find the email you just sent yourself.
  7. Hover your 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 your computer. This is virtually the same whether you're on Mac or PC.

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

There are other options available if you prefer to avoid cords and the tedious nature of emailing yourself photos.

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

For iPhone to Mac transfers, the method is simple if you have iCloud enabled. This stores all of your photos in the cloud, and any of your devices connected to your Apple account can access them.

If you're transferring photos from either iOS or Android phones to a PC, you need Windows 10 to go wireless. You'll need to download and set up the Microsoft Phone Companion app and follow the instructions here.