Smartphones are notorious for low memory alerts. Digital images are data hoarders. They can take up gigabits of memory that degrade your phone’s performance.
File transfers may be needed even if you have enough memory. Many of the photos you take on a phone can be enhanced with a little photo editing. The type that can require more than a basic crop or digital filters applied.
You may want to change the file type from PNG or JPG or load it into software to make an SVG file from a PNG. JPG and PNG files are print-worthy. SVG files are Scalable Vector Graphics that change dimensions to fit the digital screen they are displayed on. These are best converted to PDF and then printed as flat images with fixed dimensions.
To do anything more than a basic edit on your phone, the extra processing power on your computer is often needed.
Here’s how to move your pictures between devices….
Transfer images with your phone charging cable
Newer models of smartphones have a USB cable. It plugs into a USB charger that goes into your wall socket. That same cable you use for charging connects your phone to personal computers. Plug the USB into the USB port of your PC or laptop, then click on “accept” for any security prompts it shows, and allow the operating systems to connect.
You need to allow access to your phone data or the operating system will not be able to access any files, never mind transfer photos. Once the security permission is set to allow, everything on your phone becomes visible on your computer. It gets added as an external device. Click on the folder with the name of your device (such as Samsung S20) and all of your folders will show.
On Windows 10 and 11 machines, the Photos app can be used to import select photos, or your entire media library, including images stored on an external SD card inserted in your phone. On Apple devices, import using the Apple Photos app.
Share to the Cloud
Given the amount of memory images take up on your device, you may not want to import all your media files to a hard drive as that can transfer a low memory problem on your phone to a low memory issue on your laptop or PC.
When you need more storage but lack the hard drive space, you can upload copies of your images to cloud storage services.
Google Photos integrates with every smartphone operating system. It is why this app has the most users. Even on iPhones, users can install the Google Photos app to share all photos to Google Cloud Servers. It is all or nothing though. You can either grant full access to your data or none at all. There is no middle ground.
In your phone’s media library, you can tap the “share” icon and it will load up all the apps currently installed on your phone that can be used to send pictures.
The most common cloud storage app integrations are iCloud for Apple devices, Google Photos, or Google Drive on Android devices. Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive are mainstream alternatives. All have different privacy policies on how they use your data.
It is worth reviewing their terms of service to see what personal data is being shared to make sure you are familiar with what happens behind the scenes. This is particularly important if you take screenshots of personal information. Like confidential documents on a phone used for business. On Android, you would need to add a .nomedia file to a folder that you want to keep private to prevent any third-party app from importing a copy of private files to servers stored at data centres.
Which method works best for you depends on what you want to do with the images. Basic edits such as resizing, applying filters, cropping the image, and zooming can be done on the Apple Photos app for iMac devices, and for Windows, the Photo app has editing features, as does MS Paint.
For advanced edits, you may want to either use a cloud photo editing software like Adobe Cloud, or download image editing software for desktop that can apply advanced edits like adding filters, and overlays, or use retouching to add touch-ups for image restoration, such as for digital copies of an old photo that’s been damaged.
Once you have a digital copy on a desktop that has more robust hardware than your phone has, a lot of advanced photo editing is possible.
For photos you intend to print for preservation, the difference a few touch-ups can make to the print quality can be huge.