How to Turn a Smartphone Into a USB Drive

by Steve McDonnell

One of the fastest ways to transfer files between a smartphone and a computer is to turn the smartphone into a USB drive and access its storage directly. While turning your smartphone into a USB drive is a standard feature on Android phones and BlackBerrys, it is not a supported feature on the Apple iPhone or Microsoft's Windows Phone 7. To turn either of these two smartphones into a USB drive, you have to install special software on your computer and change configuration settings.

Android

Connect your Android phone to your computer with a USB cable. Follow the prompts to install drivers for your phone if necessary.

Press "Turn on USB storage" when it appears on the smartphone's USB Connected screen. Press "OK" to confirm.

Click the Start button and then click "Computer" in the Start menu. Look at the list of disk drives on your screen and find the group labeled Removable Drives. Locate one or two drives at the bottom of the list called Removable Disk.

Double-click the first drive to access the main Android phone storage if there is only one Removable Disk drive in the list. Double-click the second drive to access the external storage card if there are two Removable Disk drives in the list.

BlackBerry

Select "Options" on your BlackBerry's home screen. Choose "Device" and "Storage." Use the menu key to put a check in the box labeled Media Card Support if it is unchecked. Press "Menu" and "Save" to save the options.

Connect your BlackBerry to your computer with a USB cable. Choose "USB Drive" from the menu that appears on the BlackBerry screen.

Click the Start button and then click "Computer" in the menu that opens. Look at the list of disk drives on your screen and find the group labeled Removable Drives. Locate one or two drives at the bottom of the list called Removable Disk.

Double-click the first drive to access the main Blackberry phone storage as a USB drive if there is only one Removable Disk drive in the list. Double-click the second drive to access the external storage card if there are two Removable Disk drives in the list.

iPhone

Select an application for your computer that allows you to use the iPhone as a USB drive, such as iPhone Folders, DiskAid or iExplorer.

Download and install the application on your PC. Connect your iPhone to your computer with a USB cable and wait while the software automatically launches.

Click the Start button and then click "Computer." Look at the list of devices and drives displayed and find either an iPhone under the heading Other Devices or the last disk drive under the heading Removable Drives.

Double-click either the iPhone icon or the Removable Disk drive to access the iPhone as a USB storage device.

Windows Phone 7

Download and install the Zune desktop software on your computer, if it's not already installed. Navigate to the Zune site, click "Get the Zune Software" and then "Download Now." Click "Save" to save the file to your hard drive and click "Run" after the download is complete. Follow the prompts to install the software on your PC.

Click the Start button, "All Programs" and then "Accessories." Right-click "Command Prompt" and choose "Run as Administrator." Click "Yes" to confirm.

Type "regedit" in the black command-prompt box and press "Enter" to open the Windows registry editor.

Locate HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE in the tree on the left and click the arrow next to it to expand the tree. Continue opening inside branches of the tree by clicking the arrows to the left of SYSTEM, CurrentControlSet, Enum and USB.

Locate ZuneDriver in the tree under USB, find the Windows 7 phone entry and click it to display the corresponding registry settings.

Locate ShowInShell, right-click and choose "Modify..." Type "1" in the Value data box and click "OK."

Locate PortableDeviceNameSpaceExcludeFromShell, right-click and choose "Modify..." Type "0" in the Value data box and click "OK."

Locate EnableLegacySupport, right-click and choose "Modify..." Type "1" in the Value data box and click "OK." Close the registry editor window.

Connect your Windows 7 phone to your computer with a USB cable and wait while the Zune software automatically launches. Locate the Windows 7 Phone icon inside the Zune software and double-click the icon to open the Windows 7 phone storage as a USB drive.

Tip

  • When you finish using the smartphone as a USB drive, click the Notification Icons arrow on the Windows taskbar and locate the icon labeled "Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media." Click the icon and select "Eject USB Device" before you disconnect the smartphone from the computer.

Warning

  • Use caution when editing the Windows registry. Incorrect settings in the registry can disable your computer and require you to reinstall Windows.

Items you will need

  • USB cable to connect the smartphone and computer

About the Author

Steve McDonnell's experience running businesses and launching companies complements his technical expertise in information, technology and human resources. He earned a degree in computer science from Dartmouth College, served on the WorldatWork editorial board, blogged for the Spotfire Business Intelligence blog and has published books and book chapters for International Human Resource Information Management and Westlaw.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images