How to transfer photos and images from iPhone to Android

February 20, 2014
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Ever since device makers armed mobile phones with top-of-the-line cameras, many have not stopped snapping and capturing those precious life moments. And, when easy Internet connectivity came to the mobile phone, many also started sharing their photos to friends, family, and in many cases also to the world at large.

Yet, despite great strides in digital imaging and mobile interconnectivity, how easy is it to share photos between devices, especially those running different platforms — say, between the iPhone and an Android phone? If you own both — or are switching over from iPhone to Android — you will eventually need to know how to transfer photos and images from iPhone to Android.

In this post, I’ll show you several ways to transfer your photos, albums, and galleries from your iPhone to Android.

Manual Methods (Windows)

Drag and Drop

The easiest way to transfer your photos is to simply drag-and-drop the images from the iPhone’s default photo directory/folder to Android’s image folder.

For this method, you will need a Windows PC and the USB cables for both your iPhone and Android phone. Make sure that you’ve installed the device drivers of both phones so that they will be detected by your PC.

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Follow the steps below to drag-and-drop your iPhone photos to your Android phone:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your PC via USB cable. Do the same for your Android phone.
  2. On your Windows PC, open My Computer.
  3. You should be able to see two new drives or entries under Portable Devices. One is for your iPhone storage (usually labeled “Apple iPhone” or “Elmer’s iPhone” or something similar) and the other is for your Android. If you don’t see them, try installing the phone drivers.
  4. Open the iPhone’s storage in a new window.
  5. Open your Android’s storage in a new window.
  6. On the window for your iPhone’s storage, locate the folder named DCIM. You will find your photo folders inside the DCIM folder.
  7. Simply select the photos that you want to transfer. Then, drag them from the iPhone images folder and drop them onto your Android images folder.

That’s the quickest drag-and-drop method that I’ve ever used. Sometimes, however, the copying process can stall — and can even completely hang — for some unknown reason, especially when transferring a very large number of images. I usually take an intermediate step by copying the images from iPhone to PC first, then copying from PC to Android. This requires the use of a temporary folder on the PC for storing the iPhone photos.

Importing

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As far as manual methods go, I favor the drag-and-drop method because it allows me to select which photos to bring over from iPhone to Android. If you have no use for such selectivity, you can just simply import all your iPhone images to your computer in one go. Then, from your computer you can transfer them to your Android device. The following steps will show you how this is done:

  1. Connect your iPhone to the computer.
  2. Open My Computer and right click on your iPhone’s storage under Portable Devices.
  3. From the popup menu that appears, select Import pictures and videos.
  4. Your computer will scan your iPhone for images.
  5. Once done, click Import to import all images and videos to your computer. By default, your images will be transferred to your computer’s My Pictures folder.
  6. Open the My Pictures folder on your PC.
  7. Connect your Android to your computer via USB cable.
  8. Open your Android device’s storage and navigate to the image folder. It is usually labeled DCIM.
  9. Copy-and-paste or drag-and-drop the imported photos from your PC to your Android device.

The two manual methods will transfer images from your iPhone to your Android device. However, these methods will only transfer images saved in your iPhone’s Camera Roll. Images transferred to your iPhone via iTunes will not be included.

Using the Send Anywhere app

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Apps can also help solve the problem of transferring photos from iPhone to Android.  The Send Anywhere (File Transfer) app, which is free for both iPhone and Android, is an example of an app that can help with such task.

The Send Anywhere app allows you to wirelessly transfer files — not just images — from iPhone to Android and vice-versa, without the need to physically connect your devices to a computer.

The file that you want to send to the other device is actually uploaded to the cloud. This means that for the app to work its wonders, both phones must be connected to the Internet and both phones must be running the Send Anywhere app.

For security and privacy, the sending device generates for the receiver an authentication key either in the form of a PIN, a QR code, or a Web URL.

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If you already have the Send Anywhere app installed on both your iPhone and Android phone, follow these steps to transfer your photos:

  1. Run Send Anywhere on your iPhone.
  2. Tap the Send button.
  3. From the list of file types, select Photo. Select the photos that you want to send. You’ll see check marks at the bottom-right of the selected photos’ thumbnails.
  4. Tap the Send button at the bottom after selecting the photos.
  5. The app will generate a PIN and a QR code image for the receiver. These authorization credentials will expire after 10 minutes (by default, but can also be set to 5 or 30 minutes), so make sure that the receiver device gets the file within that time frame. Or, if you want to share the file(s) to multiple recipients for a longer time, upload the file(s) by tapping the Upload button. This latter option will also generate a PIN, QR code, and a Web URL that are valid for use by the receiver(s) within 24 hours (by default, but can also be set to 12 or 48 hours).
  6. On the Android phone, run the Send Anywhere app.
  7. Tap the Receive button on the main screen.
  8. To receive the file(s), you can enter the PIN and tap the arrow button or scan the QR code generated by the iPhone. Or, if the sender shared the Web URL of the file, open the URL in a Web browser.

Transferring images via Dropbox

The popular cloud storage service, Dropbox, can also offer a convenient means for transferring images from iPhone to Android. You need to install the Dropbox app on both your iPhone and Android phone. The app is free.

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To be able to bring over to your Android those photos stored on your iPhone, you need to upload them to your Dropbox account first.   To be able to upload and share files, login to your Dropbox account on your iPhone. You can sign up for a free Dropbox account if you don’t have one yet.

Also, you can enable the Camera Upload feature if you want newly captured photos to be automatically uploaded to your Dropbox after you capture the photos. This also uploads existing images in your Camera Roll.

For photos that are not automatically synced to your cloud-based Dropbox, you may manually upload them from any of your iPhone folders/albums to your Dropbox folders. To do this, tap the Menu button (three-dot button) from within any of your Dropbox folders, tap Upload, select photos, and upload away. This can be particularly useful if you want to share photos that aren’t automatically uploaded (i.e., photos that are stored in a different folder or location).

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Now that your photos are in the cloud, the next logical step is to enable your Android phone to be able to access them.

To allow your Android phone to access your Dropbox photos, login to the same Dropbox account as you are using on your iPhone. If you do this, you’ll be replicating the folder structure of your cloud-based Dropbox right on your Android phone and your cloud files will be accessible to you.

Or, if you don’t want to use the same Dropbox account or you want to share only some of your iPhone photos to another Android user via Dropbox, you can use Dropbox’s sharing feature. You can share just one file or many, or an entire folder.

Just a very quick note here about the conveniences of the Android version of the app. Dropbox’s folder sharing feature in the Android app exists in two forms: “Send a Link” and “Invite to Folder,” both of which are accessible by long-tapping on a folder name, then selecting Share.

Send a Link lets you share folders but without sharing file management privileges (i.e., the recipient can only view the files, download them, or add them to her or his own Dropbox account). The Invite to Folder option lets you grant file management privileges, which means that both you and the invited user can do stuff to the files in the folder (e.g., delete files, add new files, etc.).

But, here’s some sad news: In the Dropbox app for iOS, you can use the Send a Link option only. Sharing a link is accomplished on the iPhone by opening the target folder in the Dropbox app, tapping on the Share icon (rounded box with upward-pointing arrow) at the upper-right corner of the screen, and selecting the app to use for sending the link. For simple copying of photos from iPhone to Android, this method will suffice.

If you really want to allow other users to be able to manage your Dropbox folder(s), you’ll need to walk the extra mile by logging in to your Dropbox account through a Web browser and set up the shared files or folders (i.e., invite users to your folders) through the Web interface.

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On some devices with Dropbox integration (e.g., Galaxy S4, HTC One), you may be able to sync your photos from cloud to phone automatically over Wi-Fi. So, each time your iPhone uploads a photo to Dropbox, the linked Android phone also automatically gets a copy and you can view the shared photos in the Gallery app. You don’t need to export the photos to your SD card for you to view them or share them with your other apps. Unfortunately, you cannot use the Gallery app to manage the shared photos; that is, you can’t delete shared photos or move photos via the Gallery app.

On Android devices with no Dropbox integration, you may not be able to browse your Dropbox-stored photos and albums in your Gallery app. For your photos to appear in the Gallery app, you need to first export them to your SD card through the Dropbox app.

Conclusion

Thanks to mobile devices such as the iPhone and Android phones, we can take and share snapshots of what’s happening around us.  If you have an iPhone and you want to copy or transfer your photos to your Android phone, you can do so easily using any of the methods described in this post.

What method do you use to transfer your photos from iPhone to Android? Tell us about your experiences with photo transferring. We’d love to hear about them in the comment box.

(with contributions from Elmer Montejo)

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