Help File: Ways To Send Photos From A Phone To A Computer

By Rob Pegoraro
Sunday, October 11, 2009

QIs there a way to download the photos I take on a cellphone other than to e-mail them?

AThere ought to be, but don't bet on that happening. Through either neglect or deliberate interference, phone manufacturers and wireless carriers have spent years making this process more complicated than necessary. You may have to experiment with different procedures before finding one that works.

First, try using your phone's USB port, if available, to connect it to the computer. (Because most phones use standard mini- or micro-USB connectors, a camera's cable might work if your phone didn't come with one.) You should see a storage icon for the phone on the computer's desktop; open that, find the folder with your pictures, and copy them over. But you can't count on this working: A Verizon cameraphone that I tested in early 2007 blocked USB file transfers.

If your phone and your computer include Bluetooth wireless, you may be able to use that to transfer photos. Emphasize "may" -- many phones, including some high-end models, limit Bluetooth to use with hands-free kits, a foolish waste of its potential. You may also have to look around to find a phone's Bluetooth photo-transfer option. On the AT&T HTC Pure I just reviewed, this Windows Mobile phone's photo viewer didn't mention Bluetooth; instead, I had to run its File Explorer tool, navigate to a "100MEDIA" folder, select a picture and choose "Beam File" from a menu.

If your phone includes a slot for a flash-memory card -- usually in microSD format -- you may find it easier to buy a storage card and an adapter to make the card fit in a full-size card slot. Then, you can remove the card from the phone, pop it into the adapter, and then plug the card into a computer's card reader.

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or Visit for his Faster Forward blog.

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