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How to transfer photos from your phone

By Paul O'Reilly

I’m not sure how sales of cameras are doing but, if I was a manufacturer, I think I’d be worried. Whether it’s a night out on the town, a day at the beach, or even a formal wedding, amateur photographers are leaving their cameras at home in favor of the ever-present cell phone.

Just a couple of years ago, the idea of taking album-quality pictures from a cell phone would have been unthinkable. But these days, one of the smartest features of a smartphone is its camera. The iPhone 4 can record HD video at up to 30 frames per second and boasts a 5-megapixel camera for still shots. Meanwhile Motorola’s Droid Incredible and Droid X both feature 8-megapixel cameras and produce photos with outstanding clarity and sharpness.

But there is one problem when you take a photo with a cell phone – it tends to stay right where it is. Sure, you may pass the phone around immediately after you take the shot but that’s about it. The photo is consigned to the phone’s memory, gathering digital dust until the phone dies or it’s time for an upgrade.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Phone manufacturers and software providers have made it incredibly easy to download or transfer photos. Here are some suggestions:

E-mail your photos

Get into the habit of e-mailing yourself a copy of every good photo that you take. Once you have taken a photo, most smartphones will give you immediate options for sharing. Choose e-mail and decide which address will be your default e-mail for all your photos. Once you pull up your mail on your computer, you can safely transfer the photos to an online album.

Upload to a photo-sharing account

All smartphones have photo-sharing options. You can access these options immediately after you take a photo or you can access them from the album stored on your phone. Select a photo, and then press the menu button and/or “share”. Both the iPhone and all Android phones will allow you to upload directly to Flickr. All you need to do is open an account and then sign in from your phone to complete the transfer.

iPhones and Android phones will also let you send photos directly to their own custom photo-sharing sites. The default site for Android phones is Picasa, which has the added advantage of allowing you to edit photos right in your dropbox using Picnik editing software. The iPhone lets users post directly to their own MobilMe gallery, which can be shared directly with friends and family.

Upload photos to Facebook

If you are a Facebook member, then you can also upload directly to your Facebook account. You will be asked to log in and you will need to download the appropriate mobile Facebook application. After that, you can upload photos, organize them into albums, tag them and share them with others.

Texting photos

Photos can also be sent from a phone via message or text but there are some limitations. Message programs will often change the size of a photo if it’s too large to fit pre-determined limits. While you can message to e-mail accounts and other destinations, sending as an attachment via e-mail is usually a safer way to go.

Whichever method you choose, make it a habit to get good photos out of your phone as soon as you take them. But one last thing to watch out for – transferring photos can use up a lot of your data plan, so be selective and make sure that you don’t go over your limit.

Follow Paul O'Reilly on Twitter @TheTechDad

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