How to Get Pictures Off a Cell Phone

by C. Taylor

Most modern phones include a digital camera, so you can spontaneously capture memorable moments. The photos you've taken reside in your phone’s internal memory or on a removable memory card. Getting these photos off of your phone lets you edit, print or share them, and frees up storage space on your phone. Depending on your cell phone model, there may be multiple options for transferring them.

USB Cable

Many cell phones include a USB connection cable for connecting your phone to your computer. The phone might be immediately recognized or require enabling "USB Mass Storage" through the phone settings. Once connected, the phone appears as a connected device or removable storage location in Windows Explorer. Photos are typically stored in a folder called DCIM or Photos. Dragging and dropping photos from this location to your computer’s hard drive copies them to your computer. Alternatively, connecting the phone may automatically launch proprietary phone software through which you can initiate the transfer. If you use Windows Media Player you can sync your phone's media, including photos, with the Media Player Library on your Windows PC.

Memory Card

If your phone contains a memory card, such as a microSD card, your photos may be saved there by default, or you can transfer them to the card through the phone's file browser or settings menu. Removing the card and inserting it into your computer's card reader accesses the photos directly from the card. However, some types of memory cards may need an adapter, such as an SD card adapter for microSD cards. If an AutoPlay window appears after inserting the card, selecting "Import Images and Video" automatically transfers all photos to your computer.


If your computer has a Bluetooth adapter, you can pair your phone to the computer to transfer data. Once paired, you can send photos directly from your phone to your paired computer, as long as both devices support Bluetooth file transfers. This also works to send photos to other Bluetooth devices, such as a friend's cell phone. If your computer does not have Bluetooth capabilities, purchasing a USB Bluetooth dongle quickly adds such capabilities.


Most modern phones contain some kind of email program, which may be integrated into the phone, added on via an app or accessible through an Internet browser. If your cellular service plan includes data connectivity, you can send emails with photo attachments. By addressing yourself, you can retrieve the attached photo through your email client or online email service. However, this method may limit you to smaller or fewer photos, if your email provider filters large email attachments.


Several apps allow syncing photos on your smartphone with online storage locations, or they let you upload photos directly to social media sites. These apps may already be installed or can be acquired through your phone’s Find Apps feature, app store or Web browser. Some cellular service providers include a service for uploading photos to their own servers.

Photo Credits

  • Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images