(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Photo Offloads

Have you ever looked at your phone’s usage settings and realized you don’t have that much room left on it? Unless you’ve got expansion-card options, you’re probably going to want to dump unused apps and other old files to free up space. So what takes up a lot of space on many smartphones today? Photos and videos — especially on newer models with better cameras that take higher-resolution photos and HD video.

Now, some people like to keep a lot of pictures on their phones – it’s the digital equivalent of the plastic wallet sleeve full of kid, family and vacation photos. Still, there are others who don’t need to have a ton of pictures on hand at all times and some people are just too lazy to clear things off, especially if they don’t want to go through deleting images one-by-one to keep the really good stuff.

Need a quick way to deal with gigabytes of photos? Just copy them all to your computer and then whack them from the phone. Once they’re imported to the desktop or laptop, you can lean back and look at a bigger screen as you weed through the images you want to keep and delete the duds. You can keep an archive of the saved photos on the computer, as well as that computer’s backup disc or drive.

imagecaptureJust plug the phone into the computer with the cable it came with and let the computer offer to import them all at once. Most operating systems recognize a smartphone as a camera and then treat it like any other camera with a variation of the same question — “Hey, do you want me to import all these photos and them delete them for you?” Windows does this (even Windows 8), as do photo programs that run on Windows like Picasa and Adobe Photoshop Elements. Mac versions of those programs, as well as iPhoto, Image Capture or Aperture do the same thing.

Once you copy all the photos off the phone, you can delete them from the handset and have gigabytes more space to fill up with new photos. From the computer, it’s also pretty easy to upload all your favorites to Flickr or another photo-sharing site — where you can still get to them from your phone, without having to give up local storage space.

If you simply want to keep the photos on the phone but do want keep them backed up, you’ve got plenty of online backup options. For example, Google+ has an auto-backup feature for photos and Apple has iCloud Photo Stream for people with iOS devices. Dropbox has a Camera Upload feature and you can also fine photographer-friendly backup apps like MyShoebox out there.

So remember, if you want to free up space on your phone, check to see how many pictures you’re got squirreled away on there. If your mobile photos number in the hundreds, consider moving them off the phone and to the safety of the computer or online archive. And even if you have plenty of room on your phone, back up your photos anyway. A picture is worth a thousand words, but if you lose your phone and the only copies of your favorite mobile snaps, your own vocabulary may suddenly be reduced to a couple of really bad words.

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