How to Transfer Photos from Any Phone to Your Computer

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

Smartphone streaming photo cards on computer
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While everyone has their own reason for wanting to move pictures from their phone to a computer, the actual process of moving those images can be daunting, especially if you have no idea where to start or what options you have.

Today, most phones have a sizeable memory capacity, but that just means you can take and share more pictures. And at some point you will have to transfer photos from the phone, either to clear up space to take more pictures, or because you want to have a backup copy in case something happens to your device.

In this article, we’ll show you how to transfer photos from your iOS platform, and how to move or download photos from Android to your computer. We'll also cover a variety of other methods you can use on both of those type devices.

Note: The information below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Apple, Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

How to Transfer Photos from iOS to a Windows Computer

Ordinarily, your iPhone or iOS device will be found under My Computer or This PC, but before you connect your iOS device (lots of people use their iPad as their camera) to your computer, ensure the device is unlocked, otherwise the photos will be invisible. Once connected, if you cannot see your images, unlock your iOS device by entering its passcode

Once you've unlocked and connected the device, all your images should be visible and you can follow the steps below to move those images to your computer.

Move Images Using iTunes

  1. Download and install the latest version of iTunes.
  2. Connect your iPhone to your computer with a USB cable.
  3. A popup will display asking if you want to Allow your computer to access information on this iOS device.
  4. Click Continue.
  5. When asked if you want to trust this computer, tap Trust (do this both for your phone and computer). Your iPhone should now be displayed under Devices.
  6. On the Windows search bar, type Photos and click the Photos app form the search results.
  7. The Photos app will open. Click Import tab at the top right corner of the screen
  8. Select From a USB device.
  9. The app will look for a device to import from. Select your device from the list that appears to open it.
  10. Select the images you want to import.
  11. Click Import selected to start the photo transfer process to your computer.
  12. Once complete, your photos will be stored on the Collection section in the Photos app.

Transfer Photos Using File Explorer

This method uses the File Explorer window that automatically opens up whenever any device is connected to a computer through a USB connection. To do this:

  1. Connect your phone to computer using a USB cable.
  2. When the File Explorer window opens up, find your device name from the list of folders.
  3. Click Import pictures and videos so as to access, copy, and move photos to your computer from your iOS device.

In Windows operating system, the iPhone device is usually mounted under Portable Devices or listed under Digital Camera, so you can open either of the two and copy the pictures over to your computer.

Transfer Images Using Dropbox

For this, you need your iPhone, computer, Dropbox and a Wi-Fi connection. Follow these steps:

  1. Install Dropbox app to your iPhone and computer.
  2. Open Dropbox on your phone and go to the Uploads tab.
  3. At the top left corner, press the + (plus) icon.
  4. Select the photos you want to move to your computer.
  5. Choose a destination to upload the photos and start the upload.

When you get to your computer, you’ll find the photos from Dropbox waiting to be downloaded to the folder. You can do the same for videos.

How to Transfer Photos from iOS to a Mac

There are several ways you can transfer your photos from iOS to a Mac computer. Below, you'll find instructions for conducting the transfer using iCloud, Airdrop, iTunes, and several other methods, as well.

Transfer Photos Using iCloud

To do this, you need your iPhone, a USB cable, iCloud and a Wi-Fi connection.

iCloud is an Apple service through which you can sync your photos from your iPhone to your computer or Mac. To do that:

  1. Enable iCloud in your iPhone Settings.
  2. Turn on Photo Stream.
  3. Download iCloud’s Control Panel to your computer.

Once this is done, all the photos you take with your iPhone are saved directly to your computer within seconds, as long as you’re connected to WiFi. Otherwise they’ll be synced next time you’re connected to WiFi, but iCloud should always be on in order to sync photos.

Transfer Photos Using Airdrop

If your internet connection is slow or limited in bandwidth, you can use Airdrop as an alternative to iCloud. As long as you have a WiFi network, you can move photos from your iPhone to your Mac computer using Airdrop. To do this:

  1. Connect both your iPhone and Mac to the WiFi network.
  2. Launch the Photos app on your iPhone.
  3. Tap Select and choose the photos you want to move to your computer.
  4. Tap Share on the left corner.
  5. Tap Airdrop icon which is at the top of the menu below your selected photos.
  6. You’ll receive a notification on the Mac computer that your photos have been received from your phone.
  7. Go to Downloads folder to check for your photos. You can move them to Pictures or a custom folder of your choice.

Transfer Photos Using iTunes

For this, you’ll need your phone, a USB cable, computer, iTunes and an iTunes account, though this serves more as a backup measure - not necessarily a way of accessing your photos. To do this:

  1. Organize your photos by putting all individual folders into one large folder on your iPhone.
  2. Using the USB cable, plug the phone into your computer. 
  3. Open iTunes on your Mac.
  4. Find your iPhone’s icon and click Photos.
  5. Select the Sync Photos box.
  6. From the drop down menu, select Choose folder and go to the desired photos folder that you’d like to sync.
  7. Click Apply to set off the photo transfer process.

Transfer Photos Using the Image Capture Function

Image Capture treats the iPhone as a digital camera, but it is no frills, fast, and efficient when it comes to pulling photos from your phone to your computer. To do this:

  1. Go to Applications/directory and open Image Capture.
  2. Connect your iPhone to your Mac computer using a USB connection.
  3. Select a folder and click Import All (you can also select individual photos and click Import).
  4. Choose a location in the file system to copy the pictures.

Transfer Photos Using the Preview Function

Follow these steps:

  1. Plug your iPhone into your Mac using a USB connection.
  2. Launch Preview.
  3. Select Import from iPhone.
  4. Click Import All to get all the photos or select individual photos you want to move, then click Import.
  5. Go to Pictures to find the photos moved from your iPhone.

You can also opt to delete the photos after transferring them to your computer, by clicking the Delete after import checkbox (this is optional).

Transfer Photos by Email

If you want to transfer a few photos, not too bulky in size, you can use the good old email option. Follow these steps:

  1. Launch the Photos app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Albums to open the Albums page.
  3. Choose the specific album and tap Edit button.
  4. Pick the photos you want to transfer (if using Gmail, the size limit for multiple photos is 25MB, anything larger will be added to Google Drive and sent to your email as a link).
  5. Tap the Share button.
  6. Choose Email.
  7. Type your email address and complete it.
  8. Tap Send.
  9. Sign in to your email on Mac and download the photos to store them.

Transfer Photos from Android Phone to Windows Computer - USB Connection

In order to successfully transfer photos from Android to Windows computer, connect your phone to the computer by way of a USB connection or cable, and check that it is set up to transfer media, because some just go into charging mode.

If you connect your Android phone to your computer and it doesn’t open a new File Explorer window, or it is not displayed under devices on File Explorer, then it is only in charging mode.

However, if you connect the phone to computer and it automatically opens a folder showing the files on your phone, then it is set up to transfer media. Use the steps below to move your photos to your computer:

  1. On File Explorer, click the name of your device to view the folders.
  2. Click on the folder that contains your photos – it could be either DCM or Pictures folder.
  3. Find the images you want to transfer.
  4. Copy the images and paste them onto the destination folder on your computer.

Transfer Photos using a Bluetooth Connection

This is a good option if you have few images to transfer. To do this, your Android device and computer have to be paired, then you can transfer photos from Android to your Windows computer.

To do this:

  1. Go to your Android phone settings.
  2. Tap on Bluetooth.
  3. Use the slider to turn on Bluetooth. Alternatively, on your phone’s home screen, slide from top to bottom to display the quick access settings, and tap on Bluetooth. You will see the Bluetooth icon on your phone’s home screen at the top left corner next to the battery charge level and time display.
  4. Go to your computer, and click Start then click Settings.
  5. Click Devices.
  6. Click Bluetooth and other devices and turn Bluetooth On.
  7. Click Add Bluetooth or other device > Bluetooth.
  8. Choose your device and follow the additional prompts then click Done .
  9. The Android phone and computer are now paired, so you can now transfer photos to your computer.
  10. Select the photos you want to transfer, and click the Share icon on your phone.
  11. Under Share via, select Bluetooth.
  12. Choose your computer from the list of paired devices and press send to begin transferring photos.
  13. From your computer, open the Bluetooth folder to view your images.

Transfer Photos Via Google Photo

This is a photo gallery from Google that automatically backs up your photos and videos in an organized way, on your phone, so you can find, share and even move them faster, while saving space on your phone. To do this:

  1. Check if your phone has Google Photos app. If not, download it from Google Play store.
  2. Open Google Photos from your Android phone.
  3. Sign in with your email address and password.
  4. Click hamburger menu and select Settings.
  5. Click Backup and Sync.
  6. Set the switch to On (it will turn blue) so as to backup your photos.
  7. Open the Google Photos website. It should show your Android phone’s photos if they were backed up.
  8. Check each of the boxes for the photos you want to transfer to your computer, and click Download from the hamburger menu at the top right corner of the page.
  9. Your photos will begin downloading, after which you can move them from Downloads folder to the desired location.

Note: If you delete photos from Google Photos, it also deletes them on Google Drive.

Transfer Photos Via Google Drive

This is a backup service by Google which you can use to move photos from your Android phone to your computer. It is pre-installed on Android devices, but you can download it from Google Play Store. To move photos from your phone to the drive, do this:

  1. Select the folder or images you want to send to Google Drive.
  2. Click the Share via icon and select Google Drive.
  3. Confirm the upload and the process will begin.

Transfer Photos by Email

This is one of the simplest ways to move photos from your Android phone to Windows computer, but for bulk images, it can be a bit slower than usual owing to size. If you're using Gmail, you may be required to use Google Drive for files larger than 25MB. Follow these steps:

  1. Select all the images you want to transfer.
  2. Click the Share via icon and select Email (whichever email service you use should be among the options).
  3. A new email message will open up (Compose message), type the email address to send the photos to, and click Send once you confirm all the details.
  4. If you want to download the images to your computer, open your email and check if the photos were sent to your inbox. Open and download all the attachments, then save in the desired location folder.

Transfer Photos from Android Phone to a Mac - Image Capture

Image Capture treats the iPhone as a digital camera, but it is no frills, fast and efficient when it comes to pulling photos from your phone to your computer. To do this:

  1. Go to Applications/directory and open Image Capture.
  2. Connect your iPhone to your Mac computer using a USB connection.
  3. Select a folder and click Import All (you can also select individual photos and click Import).
  4. Choose a location in the file system to copy the pictures.

Transfer Photos Using Dropbox

To transfer photos from Android to Mac, do the following:

  1. Create a Dropbox account if you don’t already have one, by going to the Dropbox website.
  2. Download the associated Android app from Google Play store.
  3. Log in to your Dropbox account.
  4. Tap on the vertical three dots at the top right corner of the mobile app.
  5. From the drop down menu, tap Upload here.
  6. Select the file or folder you want to upload to Dropbox.
  7. Click Upload at the bottom right corner.
  8. Open Dropbox on your Mac and find the photos you want to transfer.
  9. Click the Download link.
  10. Select the desired location you want to save the photos you’ve transferred.

Transfer Photos Using iPhoto

iPhoto is an image management app that is included with every new Mac (depending on which version of the OS you have installed, it might be called Photos). This app recognizes your Android device as a camera once launched, and gathers all your photos with an option to import all of them to your Mac. To do this:

  1. Download and install iPhoto/Photos app to your Mac if it isn't there already.
  2. Connect the Android phone to your Mac by way of USB cable. If your phone is running Android 4.0 or newer version, it will automatically be recognized as a camera. 
  3. To find out your version of Android, open Settings on your phone, tap About Phone or About device, then tap Android Version to view the details.
  4. Once connected, iPhoto will open automatically and the Library Management window will be displayed.
  5. Select the images you want to move to Mac.
  6. Select the destination folder and complete the transfer.

Transfer Photos Using Android File Transfer

This is a wire-based program for transferring files to a Mac. To transfer photos from Android to Mac, do the following:

  1. Download and install Android File Transfer on your Mac computer.
  2. Using a USB cable, connect your Android phone to your computer.
  3. Once ready, your phone will be displayed as a drive on your Mac.
  4. Open a Finder window.
  5. Find the Android File Transfer application on the list of drives.
  6. Double click the Android drive icon.
  7. A folder will open with a list of applications. Drag these to your desktop if you want to view or open them.

Transfer Photos Using the Preview App

Preview is the standard image viewing app for Mac that also allows you to copy photos from your Android phone, or other phone, digital cameras, and tablets. To move photos to your Mac from your Android phone, do the following:

  1. Connect your Android phone to the Mac.
  2. Launch Preview.
  3. Tap or click File menu.
  4. Select Import from (your Android device name).
  5. Select the images to move to the Mac.
  6. Select Import.