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

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:

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Related reading: What is Thunderbolt 5?

Mark Pavin
Mark Parvin

Mark has worked with and wrote about computers, video games and consumer tech for more years than he cares to admit.