How to Get Pictures Off a Phone and on a Computer

by Jeff Grundy

Many modern cellphones and smartphones include built-in cameras that rival the quality of many digital cameras. Just as you can with stand-alone digital cameras, modern phones enable you to transfer photos from the device to a computer to free up space for taking more pictures. If you have treasured photos on your phone, copying them to a computer also makes them available for editing and provides a digital backup. With Windows and a USB cable, copying photos from your phone to a PC takes only minutes.

Using the Import Pictures and Videos Wizard


Connect the USB cable to your phone and a free USB port on the PC. Wait a few seconds while Windows detects and configures the memory card in the cellphone as a removable storage device. After Windows configures the phone's memory card, the AutoPlay window appears.


Click "Import Pictures and Videos," then the "Import Settings" link. Click the "Browse" button, and then navigate to the folder on your PC where you want to save the pictures from your phone. Alternatively, leave the default "My Pictures" folder selected in the folder browser window.


Click "Import" and wait a few seconds for Windows to copy all of the pictures on the memory card in the phone to the My Pictures library or the alternate folder you selected. While Windows copies the pictures to the selected destination folder, click and enable the "Erase after Importing" option if you want to free up space on your phone. If you enable this option, after Windows copies the photos from phone, it erases the photos stored on the memory card and displays a new Windows Photo Gallery window displaying thumbnails of the images imported from the phone.


Unplug the USB data cable from the computer and your cellphone. Browse and view photos from your phone in the Windows Photos Gallery.

Using Cut and Paste


Open a Web browser and direct it the support website for the manufacturer of your phone. Download the newest Windows USB device driver for the phone and save it to your computer. Close the Web browser application.


Click the Start button, then "Computer." In Windows Explorer, browse to the folder where you saved the phone's USB device driver. Double-click the driver setup file to launch the installation wizard, then follow the on-screen prompts to install the USB driver in Windows. Restart the computer if prompted by Windows to do so.


Connect the USB cable to the phone and your PC. If the display on your cellphone prompts you to select a mount or storage option, choose "Mass Storage Device," "External USB Drive" or similar option. Wait while Windows detects the memory card in the phone and initializes it as a removable storage device. After a few seconds, the AutoPlay window appears.


Click "Open Device to View Files" to open a new Windows Explorer windows that displays the files and folders on your phone's memory card.


Press the "Ctrl-N" keys to launch a second Windows Explorer window. Click "My Pictures" in the Navigation pane of the second Windows Explorer window.


Return to the original Windows Explorer window displaying the folders on the cellphone. Double-click the "Photos" or "Pictures" folder in the Windows Explorer window for the phone's memory card. Highlight the filename of the photo to transfer to the computer and remove from the phone.


Press "Ctrl-X" keys while the selected picture filename is highlighted. Activate the second Windows Explorer window displaying the My Pictures library, then press "Ctrl-V." Windows copies the selected image file to the My Pictures library on your computer and removes it from the phone's memory card.


Close both Windows Explorer windows and disconnect the data cable from the phone and the computer.


  • check With some phones, you may need to configure the storage settings before connecting to your computer. You can usually configure the memory card in the phone as a Mass Storage Device or External Drive in the Settings menu.


  • close Do not delete photos on your cellphone until you verify the copy is on your computer to avoid losing photos.

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About the Author

Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images