An acquaintance of mine called Leslie (not her real name – or, maybe it is; you'll never know) told me her Android phone crashed and she lost all her photos. She was upset.
"Didn't you sync your phone with your PC?" I asked hoping to simply eliminate the basic "is your non-working electronics plugged in?" possibility.
"No!" she answered incredulously, as if I had suggested she trade murders with me ala Strangers on a Train or even Throw Mama From the Train.
I was stunned until I realized that for many, connecting a cell phone to a PC isn't part of your electronics muscle memory. (Unless you're an iPhone/iTunes/iPhoto user, which means you're totally used to connecting your phone to your PC – right? In either event, this tutorial is aimed primarily at Android phone/Windows PC owners).
If you have photos on your smart phone, don't end up like Leslie (or whatever her name is). There are literally a dozen ways of getting your photos off your phone and into your PC.
Making a connection
Your most efficient photo transfer method is to connect your smart phone to your PC via a USB cable – there is one in the box your smart phone came in; in fact, it may be the cable connected to your phone's AC transformer, the block plugged into the wall for recharging your phone.
Three caveats: First, I'm assuming you're running Windows 7, but earlier Windows versions ought to behave the same way. Second, if you haven't previously synced your phone, your PC will go through some gyrations to identify your phone, install drivers, etc. Thirdly, once you connect your phone, you may have to go through the phone's Settings menu (or pull down the status bar screen from the top of the phone) and set the phone to "USB Mass Storage" mode (hey, you bought an Android phone and a Windows PC, not me).
After your PC completes its phone identification, an "Autoplay" window ought to pop-up.
You'll see a variety of "import" options in this "Autoplay" window. The top choice – "Import" – will transfer all the photos on your phone. Click "Import settings" to tell your PC what folder to put your photos in. You can also click a box to remove the photos from your phone.
Click "Import" and – your photos will be imported. Your PC knows not to import photos you've already imported.
It's just that simple. Now do it.
Instead of connecting a cable, you can use Bluetooth to wirelessly transmit your photos from your phone to PC. While Bluetooth is less, well, tangly, than a cable, it's a bit slower.
First, you have to pair your smart phone to your PC. This is the complicated part. If you've done this or know how to do this, skip to the next subhead.
First, on your Android phone, go to:
Wireless & Networks,
Turn on Bluetooth (if it's not already on). When the box has a green check in it, tap "Bluetooth settings" (it should be the next menu item down) then tap on "Discoverable."
When you see the green check mark, go to your PC.
There are two ways of accessing the Bluetooth settings on your PC. Go to the Control Panel (via the Start key), where you'll find Hardware and Sound, then to Devices and Printers, then Add a Bluetooth Device.
Or, access the Bluetooth settings via the tiny Bluetooth icon in the system tray in the lower right hand corner of the screen. When you click the Bluetooth icon, you'll get a list of options. You want Add a Device.
This is all easier than it sounds.
Either way, click "Add a device" and just follow the directions to pair your phone to your PC and vice versa.
Bluetooth photo transfer
Once you've got your phone and PC paired (and on your phone, it will say your PC is "paired but not connected" – that's fine), go to the Gallery on your Android phone – it's one of your apps. Go to your Camera Roll.
You can choose a single photo or video, or tap the Menu button on the bottom row of buttons on your phone. When the Menu window pops up, tap "Select items."
Tap on a thumbnail to select photos and videos. Then, in the Menu, tap "Share," then "Bluetooth," then, from the list of devices, tap the PC you want to transmit the photos to.
Now go get a cup of coffee. Your PC may or may not give you a progress bar, but if you pull down the Android status bar shade, you can see how far along the transfer process is. The more photos and videos you chose to transfer, the longer the transfer will take.
Once finished, your images and movies will automatically be placed in a Bluetooth Exchange Folder, which is inside your Documents folder. You can leave them there or drag-and-drop them into the folder where you keep your photos.
Wireless photo transfer – immediate
Of course, there's no reason to wait until you get home to transfer your photos off your phone. You can transfer photos to a safe place right after you snap them.
Tap a photo you've just taken, then hit the Menu button, then tap Share. You'll see all manner of methods to upload your photo.
You can email the photo to yourself. You can upload it to Flickr or Picasa, depending on what services are included on your phone, or upload an Online Album (which you can designate).
You can still transfer your photos in bulk later via Bluetooth or a USB cable. Nothing wrong with saving your photos to multiple places.
And that's how you get photos of your smart phone. Okay, NOW do it.