How to transfer photos from your Android device to your Windows PC

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You may have taken thousands of photos on your Android phone over the years. And now you want to copy them to your computer to edit them or just keep them safe. No problem. You can achieve this in different ways.

  • You can plug your device into your PC via a USB cable and access the photos from your phone.
  • You can use the Windows Photos app to import photos from your phone.
  • By default, your photos are automatically saved to Google Photos, from where you can download them to your PC.
  • If you tap OneDrive, you can automatically upload new photos from your phone to the OneDrive Pictures folder.
  • And you can use Microsoft’s Phone Link app to transfer your photos.

Each method works the same in Windows 10 and Windows 11. Let’s go through each one.

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Connect your phone to your PC

The easiest way to transfer your photos is to copy them directly from your phone. To do this, plug your phone into a USB port on your PC. On your phone, swipe down from the top of the screen until you see an option for your USB connection. It may tell you that it is currently charging your device via USB. Tap on this setting and change it to File Transfer.

Screenshots of USB preferences in Android.

Use USB for file transfer.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Next, open File Explorer on your Windows PC and navigate to your Android device. Browse the Internal Storage or Internal Shared Storage folder to the DCIM subfolder, then open the Camera folder. You should see all the photos of the phone here. Open another window in File Explorer to a local folder on your PC. You can then copy and paste or drag and drop the photos from your phone to your computer.

Drag and drop photos.

Copy photos from phone to PC.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Also: How to transfer photos from your iPhone to your Windows PC

Use the Windows Photos app

You can also import photos from your mobile phone using the Windows Photos app. Open the app on your PC. Click the Import button and select the option to From a connected device.

Sample baseball images in the Windows Photos app.

Import photos from phone to Windows Photos app.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Select your Android phone and allow the app to generate all photos from the device. Click on the link to Change destination to choose a different folder to import the photos. Click on the drop-down menu to Select and choose the option to All items. Check the box for Delete original items after import to delete photos from your phone. When you are ready, click the Import button.

Uploading sample photos to PC to import.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Also: Microsoft’s updated Windows 11 Photos app makes it easier to back up your photos

Use Google Photos

First, make sure your phone photos are backed up and synced with Google Photos. Open the Photos app. Tap your profile icon and select Photo Settings. Picking out Backup and sync and confirm that the switch is on for Backup and sync. Also, make sure you have enough space in your Google cloud storage to accommodate all of your photos. You can also change the upload size to upload your photos in a compressed format to save space.

Google Photos sync option on phone.

Sync photos with Google Photos.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Navigate and connect to Google Photos website on your computer. You should see the photos synced from your Android phone there. Now suppose you want to download all the photos to your PC. Select the first photo, hold down the Shift key, and then select the last photo. Click the three-dot icon at the top right and select Download. Your photos are saved in your default download folder as a ZIP file.

Sample Google photos about to be uploaded.

Download photos from Google Photos.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Also: Why is Google Photos stealing all my online storage space? [Ask ZDNET]

Use Microsoft OneDrive

Here’s a useful option if you already use Microsoft OneDrive on Windows. Install the OneDrive app on your Android phone if you haven’t already. Open the app and sign in with your Microsoft account. Tap the Photos icon at the bottom. Tap the option to Camera download and press the To light up button. Then toggle the switch to Camera download.

Setting up OneDrive with sample images on an Android phone.

Set up OneDrive on an Android phone.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Once the photos are synced, open the OneDrive folder on your computer and you should see all the photos.

Sample photos on a PC.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Also: How to control OneDrive? [Ask ZDNET]

Use Microsoft Phone Link

Another option is to use Microsoft’s Phone Link, which allows you to view and recover photos and other items from an Android phone. Your first step is to link and sync your Android phone with Windows. Once your phone is linked, select the Photos option in the Phone Link app on your Windows PC. You will then see all the photos on your phone. Right-click on a photo you want to download and select Save as. The downside of Phone Link is that there’s no way to select and download multiple photos to your PC at once. This tool is therefore more useful for uploading a few photos at a time.

Sample photos in the Phone Link app.

Access photos in the Phone Link app.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

About Sally E. Bartley

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