Android Phones

Why can’t I download photos from my Android phone to my PC?

Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

A USB cable is one of the most common ways to download photos from your Android phone to your PC. It should be as simple as plugging everything in and importing your pictures with an app like Windows Photos. However, it may not always work, and you may encounter an error that looks something like this:

download photos Android phone PC

So how do you get your photos onto your PC if this happens? Let’s find out.

Is my computer at fault?

You can’t put the blame on Windows this time. When connected to a computer via USB, practically all Android phones block your PC from importing any data by default. Fortunately, once the two devices are linked, the option to change these settings becomes available; it simply takes a bit of searching to find it.

Okay, where do I start?

The first step is to scan through your phone’s notifications section.

(If you’re not sure how to view your notifications, simply unlock your phone and then swipe down from the top of the screen with your finger. The phone’s quick settings, as well as any notifications, should now be visible.)

If you look at the picture below, you will see a USB notification that is just about visible second from the bottom.

download photos Android phone PC

You now need to tap on the notification and it will enlarge slightly.

download photos Android phone PC

The next step is to tap the notification again, and the USB preferences window will open. The settings shown may differ on some Android phones but, in this example, the default setting is No Data Transfer.

download photos Android phone PC

With this option enabled, the computer cannot locate and import your images. You therefore now need to select the option that allows the transfer of your photos. Typically, this is File Transfer.

download photos Android phone PC

Again, this setting may differ between phones. For example, on many Samsung phones, you have the option of transferring files or transferring images. If this is the case, make sure to select Transferring Images when importing your photos.

download photos Android phone PC

After choosing the transfer option, Windows Photos – or your preferred app – should now recognise your phone and pictures and allow you to import them.


The process to download photos from your Android phone to your PC with a USB cable is usually simple. If it isn’t working for you, follow this guide to find and change the options needed for a smooth transfer.

READ NEXT: Where are Android downloads stored?

About the author

Mark Parvin

I have worked with and wrote about computers, video games and consumer tech for more years than I care to admit.
I currently run my own IT support business and write about the wonders of tech whenever I can.


Click here to post a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • hi mark. my new android phone shows the error message at the top of your presentation when trying to download photos to pc. i have tried notifications but cannot find any reference to usb. however on connected devices the usb logo appears to be not activated. haven’t got a clue what to do as for example i can’t see the file transfer. i notice there may be other ways to solve the problem but i don’t want to lose data. you will have gathered i haven’t a clue about tech things and whilst your analysis of the photo problem looks simple my phone is playing ball or more likely its me. regards kevin

  • Thank you. I was so darn frustrated I was ready to throw the dag gone phone out. I also was a tad bewildered by your instructions BECAUSE I’m not aware of most of the phone settings and features. I basically use it to talk, text, or take photos. My solution was to ask my husband who is an engineer and loves tech talk. He had it all hooked up in less than 5 minutes. It only took him that long because he had trouble reading the small font on the phone settings menu. Mentioning that it was second from the bottom in notifications was extremely helpful.
    Again, thanks.

  • I have suddenly lost the ability to download my photos. When I try this is the message I receive ‘The HEVC video extension is required to display this file. Download & install it now’ Help!

  • Thank you so much, Mark… I’ve struggled for 2 years to download pics to my pc… Brilliant! Thank you again. Annette D

  • Help!! Followed your instructions and all connected. However it said it found 496 photos but it just kept acting like it was downloading for 30 minutes. Nothing else happened. Had to cancel and start over. After twice I gave up.

  • Hello, I have a Samsung S7 cell phone and tried this approach several times today without any success. . I have the USB Photo Transfer option set to “Photo Transfer”, my device/cell is not locked. The Photos
    App appears on my PC and it searches but doesn’t find any files. Each time a Samsung S7 folder is created with a link to my Phone and Card and the sizes are displayed. When I double click on either one the green bar starts, acting like its loading the photos but it comes back with, “This Folder is empty”. I changed my USB cable, turned on my USB Debug option, cleared out cache and data memory, reset the phone and the PC and a couple times I got the folders under Phone/DCIM to show up but when I double one of the folders I get, “This Folder is empty”. Now when I double click the Card folder I get a lot of icons that look like a card disk and they don’t work, 0 bytes. This is frustrating, do have any other ideas why its not working, I need to save the data on my phone?

  • Thanks for these clear instructions, which have enabled me to download my photos when other sites did not explain the problem.