4 Headache-Free Ways to Access the Photos You Receive on Your Phone

“How the heck do I get these photos off my phone??”

That’s one of the most common questions I hear from my clients (or even from people at parties, when they find out I’m a photo organizer!)

It’s not difficult to transfer photos off your smartphone, but it’s not an obvious process, either. Often, when people try to access these photos, they feel confused or intimidated, which means they give up…and that’s a shame, because there are some terrific photos hiding on our phones!

In this post, we’ll talk about how to access photos that have been shared with your via text or email, so you can share them with other people or move them to your computer. Then I’ll explain how to remove photos from your phone, when you’re ready.

4 Headache-Free Ways to Access the Photos You Receive on Your Phone

How to Access Photos You Receive on Your Phone

#1: Accessing a Photo You Receive Via Text Message

When a friend or family member sends you a photo via text message, that photo gets put your SMS (text message) feed. In order to easily view and share it with others, you need to take one additional step to save that image onto your phone.

To do that, you simply click on the photo (from within the text). When you do that, you’ll see a larger version of the photo on your phone.

At that point, for most smartphones, you’ll see an option to save the image. Once saved, that image is stored on the camera roll of your phone – which means you can text it to someone else, share it via social media, or download it to your computer.

#2: Accessing an Image You Receive as an Email Attachment on Your Phone

If a photo was emailed to you as an attachment, and you’re viewing that email on your phone, then you need to save that photo to your device so you can access it later.

First, find the email with the photo attachment. Often email providers will show a paper clip icon next to the email subject line, in your inbox, which can be helpful to locate emails with an attachment. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you the type of attachment – so once you’ve located the email, you’ll need to open that email in your email program.

Once you’ve opened the email, locate the attachment in the email, and click on it. At that point, most email providers will prompt you to download the photo, or give you an option to select where you’d like to save it.

When you’re viewing an email from a phone or tablet, selecting “Save Photo” will automatically save that image to the camera roll of that device.

#3: Accessing a Photo That Someone Sends You a Link To

Friends and family members will often share their digital photo albums via sites like SmugMug or Shutterfly. In that case, you’ll usually receive a link to the online album via email. If you want to access those photos, you’ll need to tap on the link and go to the site to view the album.

When the person who shared the photos has enabled “Visitor Downloads” in their shared album, you’ll be able to download any of the photos from the album. Just look for the photo you want to download, then follow that website’s prompts to download the photo.

If the sharer hasn’t enabled visitor downloads (or the sharing site doesn’t allow image downloads) you’ll need to talk with your friend or relative to get a copy of the image you want.

It’s also possible that someone could send you a link to a Shared Album in Photos (the iPhone/Mac app for managing photos). If someone shares an album with you, you’ll see the invitation notice in your “Photos” application.

#4: Accessing a Photo You Took Yourself, Using Your Smartphone Camera

When you use your phone to take a photo, those image are automatically saved in your phone’s camera roll. Think of it like having the SD card for your SLR camera, or like the roll of film for an older camera.

To share or download those photos, you can go to the “Camera” or “Photos” app on your phone.

A Quick Note About Photo Size and Quality

When someone shares a photo with you (via text, email, or social media) you’ll need to be aware of the photo size before you decide what you do with the image.

Online photos are often “optimized,” which means they are reduced or compressed versions of the original images. Optimized images are great for saving space on your phone, and they work well for the web – but they’re not the right size (or quality) if you want to enlarge them.

For example, if you want to use an image to create a framed photo for your wall, or as part of a big photo collage, you’ll need to get your hands on the largest, best quality image you can – and that may mean you don’t use the poorer-quality images you may see online.

If you received a photo via a shared site such as a Shared Album in Photos, Dropbox, or SmugMug then likely you have access to a file in its original size. These would fine for physical display.

However, when you’re downloading or sharing from social media sites like Facebook or Instagram, it’s likely these files have been compressed and are best viewed from the web or a smartphone. If you wish to use this image in a project, then you need to get a good-quality copy of the photo from the source (the person that took the photo).

In a future post, we’re going to talk more about image sizes, and how to figure out how large a particular photo is – so look for that post soon! For now, simply keep in mind that social media images are best for sharing…not for displaying in your home or enlarging for a project!

How to Remove Photos From Your Camera

I don’t know about you, but it feels like I’m always fighting for space on my smartphone, and getting those dreaded “Almost Out of Storage” messages.

Photos can take up a lot of space on your phone, so when you’re done sharing the photos and/or moving them over to your computer so you have a backup copy, it’s not a bad idea to delete them from your photo to free up some space.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Before you delete any photos, make sure you’ve got another copy somewhere (like your computer, or your backup service!)

Here’s the overall process for deleting photos from your phone (specific instructions will vary based on your phone):

  1. Open the photos feature on your phone.
  2. Select the photo you want to delete.
  3. Tap the “Delete” button (or tap the trash can icon).
  4. You will typically get a prompt or pop-up box at this point, warning you about what you’re about to do. If you’re sure you’ve got a backup copy of the photo somewhere else, go ahead and tap “Okay” or “Agree” button, to delete the photo.

Other Questions?

Do you have other questions about accessing the photos on your phone? Let us know in the comments!

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