October 2017 – Moving Photos!


Summary: In October of 2017, Google Photos is arguably the best choice for safekeeping photos for the casual smartphone or tablet photographer.  It’s automatic, it’s cheap, possibly free, and it gives you the option of clearing stuff off your device while maintaining the backup.


copy – duplicate a file, usually saving the duplicate in a different place

move – place a file in a new place, deleting it from the old one

sync or synchronize – to make the files in one place the same as the files in another. May involve deletion as well as copying

upload –  to copy files from a device to another device or to the cloud

back up – similar to upload – copy files from one device to another device or to the cloud. If you delete a photo from your device, it will still exist in the backup, until you take a NEW backup, which will not include your deleted items.

It’s a scary thing when those little computers we like to carry around tell us that they are all full and can no longer take new photos, or download new apps, or do other things we want them to do.  Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to move things off our phones and put them somewhere else for safekeeping.

There are three major places people put their precious digital photos for safekeeping:

  1. The cloud
  2. Their laptop or desktop
  3. A stand alone backup drive

There are numerous variations on these procedures.  I’m going to review a few of the most popular ones, but you can find lots of different ways by googling “How to move photos from ______ to ______”

Move Photos to The Cloud


  1. Available from everywhere
  2. Available to all devices
  3. Professionally Managed
  4. Automatic upload is available
  5. If you are not picky about the quality stored, Google offers unlimited free space for iPad, iPhone and Android users!


  1. Privacy is protected only by server security (someone could hack in and get your pix)
  2. If you have more than the free space can contain, you’ll need to pay a subscription fee
  3. The company could go out of business, and you’d lose everything that is on their servers if they didn’t give you time to move them. (This rarely happens — usually you get an email saying that you will need to move your stuff in the next month or so)
  4. iCloud weirdly will not let you delete things from your phone while keeping them on your device, or even on another iCloud enabled device. It’s best understood as a “sync” application and it imagines itself as the center of your world.



iPad to iCloud- text

iPad or iPhone to iCloud – video

Deleting from iCloud – text

       Deleting from iCloud – video

Google Photos

Android or iPhone to Google – text

Back up to Google from desktop or phone – video


Upload files from a phone or tablet – text

Upload photos from an iPhone – video



Move Photos to Your Laptop or Desktop


  1. Very private
  2. Inexpensive
  3. Available to good editing software


  1. Hard disk death
  2. Not automatic — Must think to attach phone and initiate upload
  3. Must remember procedure


iPad to Mac or Windows computer

Back up iPad or iPhone to Mac or Windows computer – Video

Move Photos from iPad to Mac or Windows computer using Image Capture – Video

Android to Mac

Android to Mac – Video showing several helper apps

Android to Windows

Android to Windows – Video


Move Photos to a Stand-Alone Backup Drive – (not recommended)


  1. Very Private
  2. Portable – plugs into just about any computer
  3. No subscription fee after you’ve bought the drive


  1. Not automatic – Have to remember to do the migration
  2. Hard disk death happens here, too
  3. Easy to misplace the drive
  4. Procedures are way more complicated than they should be
  5. Likely requires an adapter to connect drive to phone/tablet


iPad to backup drive  (ignore ad for wondershare)

Android to backup drive

Really, it seems to me that if you want your pix on a portable drive, it’s easiest to first move them to your computer, and then use your computer backup program to get them there.  Phones and tablets just are not optimized to be attached to an external drive, and it takes a lot of futzing to make that connection work.


Deleting the stuff on your device

iCloud (note: this deletes photos in iCloud and on devices!)

Delete photos from iPad or iPhone – text

Deleting photos from your iphone – video

Google Photos (includes option to ONLY delete from device)

Delete Photos from Android device using google photos – text

Using Google Photos to Save Space on your iPhone – video


Migrating photos from Apple Photos to Google Photos

Gizmodo field guide to migrating from Apple Photo to Google Photo – text

Another article on how to migrate