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Issue #812: February 12-18, 2023

Q: I am rather tech-ignorant. How can I download pictures from my very old iPhone 6s to my HP Envy computer (about 5-6 years old).  I do email them to myself then download to my pictures, but that seems like there should be an easier way.

– Barbara V.
Lone Rock, Wisconsin

A: That you would think of e-mailing pics to yourself, to say nothing of actually knowing the steps to pull it off tells me that you may not be as “tech-ignorant” as you make yourself out to be, Barbara.  That’s a fairly creative use of basic features of your phone, however it does have a number of drawbacks.

Beyond the obvious slowness of the process, there are a couple of other considerations to transferring pictures this way.  First, depending on how you have your mail configured, you could wind up with two additional copies of the picture on your phone; one in the Inbox, and one in the Sent Mail folder.  So, be sure and delete both copies after you’ve downloaded them to the My Pictures folder on your PC.  The other consideration is that if you’re not on Wi-Fi when you e-mail pics to yourself, you’re using a lot of bandwidth.  If you’re on a limited data plan that could be a big consideration.

But, you wrote-in seeking a better way, and I have it for you.  In fact, I discussed the method in an issue of the column late last year (Geek Note: I.G.T.M. #800, November 20, 2022).  Well, to be honest, I sort-of danced around the method during my discussion of reader Edward R’s issue.  I’ll provide you with some more straight-up instructions to follow.

The most important thing to know is that you download them directly by plugging your phone into your computer using a USB cable.  It’s also important to know that not all USB cables are the same.  Some are designed strictly for charging, and as such, aren’t equipped with the wires that carry data.  If you’re not using the cable that originally came with your phone, make sure it’s a full-on data cable, and not just a charging cord.

Start by unlocking your phone.  It’s going to need to be unlocked for the process to work anyway, so you may as well start off with it in the correct configuration.  By the way, it’s not necessary to run any software on the phone – you don’t even need to be in the Photo Roll.

Next, on the PC, go to the Start button and in the search box, type Photos.  The top match in the search results should be a stylized blue vista of mountains and sky, aptly labeled “Photos – App”.  Click the icon to run it.  Depending on whether you’ve ever used the Photos app, it may feel the need to prompt you for a setting or two.  Answer the questions until it stops asking them, and you land in the program’s main window.

Now, plug the USB cable into your phone, and the other end into a working USB port on your computer.  Depending on a number of factors, such as installed drivers, other software, etc., your computer might detect the phone and offer services, including downloading your pictures.  Ignore these for now, and cancel them if they appear.  You might also receive a prompt on the phone asking whether you “Trust This Computer” that you’ve just attached to.    Unless you have a good reason to not trust your own PC, go ahead and click “Yes”.

Back on the PC, in the Photos app, along the right-hand side of the menu bar you should see several icons.  If you mouse-over them, you’ll get a tooltip telling you their various functions.  Find the one labeled “Import” and click it.  Then click “From a connected device”.  It might take some time for Photos to obtain an organized list of your photos over the relatively slow USB connection, so be patient while it does its work.

Once Photos has an organized list of importable pictures, you need to make a few final choices before proceeding.  At the top of the screen you can select the destination on the PC to which the photos will be copied.  Even more important, note the checkbox on the lower-left labeled “Delete original items after import”.  This does exactly what it says, and if checked, the photos will be removed from your phone after the import.  This is effectively a “move” operation.  It has the desirable effect of freeing up memory on your phone, but now you will no longer have the pics available to you if you want to show them to someone.  It’s a personal choice.

Once you’ve got things configured the way you want, click on the button on the bottom that says “Import xxxx of xxxx items”.  How long the operation takes to complete will depend on how many you’re importing.

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