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

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Person using an Android phone.

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You may have snapped 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 accomplish this in a few 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 the photos from your phone.
  • By default, your photos are automatically saved to Google Photos, from which you can download them to your PC.
  • If you tap into OneDrive, you’re able to 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.

Also: The 200+ best ‘Amazon Prime Early Access Sale’ deals 

Plug your phone into your PC

The simplest 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’s currently charging your device via USB. Tap that 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. Drill down through the Internal Storage or Internal Shared Storage folder to the DCIM subfolder and then open the Camera folder. You should see all of the phone’s photos 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.

Dragging and dropping 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 for From a connected device.

Sample baseball pictures in 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 the photos from the device. Click the link for Change destination to choose a different folder for importing the photos. Click the drop-down menu for Select and choose the option for All items. Check the box for Delete original items after import to remove the photos from your phone. When ready, click the Import button.

Downloading 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 pictures

Use Google Photos

First, make sure that the photos on your phone are being backed up and synchronized to Google Photos. Open the Photos app. Tap your profile icon and select Photos settings. Choose Back up & sync and confirm that the switch is turned on for Back up & sync. Also, make sure you have enough space in your Google cloud storage to accommodate all 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 to Google Photos.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Browse and sign in to the Google Photos website on your computer. You should there see the photos synced from your Android phone. Now let’s assume 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 in the upper right and select Download. Your photos are saved in your default Download folder as a ZIP file.

Sample Google Photos about to be downloaded.

Download photos from Google Photos.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

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

Use Microsoft OneDrive

Here’s a helpful option if you already use Microsoft OneDrive in Windows. Install the OneDrive app on your Android phone if you haven’t already done so. Open the app and sign in with your Microsoft account. Tap the Photos icon at the bottom. Tap the option for Camera upload and tap the Turn On button. Then flip the switch for Camera upload.

Setting up OneDrive with sample pictures on Android phone.

Set up OneDrive on Android phone.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

After the photos have been 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 do I get OneDrive under control? [Ask ZDNET]

Use Microsoft’s Phone Link

Yet another option is to use Microsoft’s Phone Link, which lets you view and retrieve photos and other items from an Android phone. Your first step is to link and sync your Android phone with Windows. After your phone is linked, select the option for Photos in the Phone Link app on your Windows PC. You’ll then see all the photos from your phone. Right-click on a photo you wish to download and select Save as. The downside with Phone Link is that there’s no way to select and download multiple photos to your PC in one shot. So this tool is useful more for downloading just a few photos at a time.

Sample photos in Phone Link app.

Access photos in Phone Link app.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

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