I want to be able to grab all the photos and videos from my Samsung Galaxy S8 directly by plugging it into my MacBook. Is that possible? If so, how does one go about it?
There are a couple of different ways you can solve this puzzle including the ninja-only command line on the Mac, but fortunately there’s an easy way too: Android File Transfer. It’s a simple, albeit buggy app that you can download for free from the Android Web site (or just click on this: Get Android File Transfer for Mac). The problem with it is that there’s a weird timing issue between your phone being connected, you giving approval on your phone for the computer to access files and the app on your Mac receiving approval before it pops up an error and fails. But no worries, I’ll show you how it works and then how to work around any problems.
The first thing you’ll need is a cable that plugs into your Mac computer on one end and into the phone on the other. For my setup, that’s just a USB-C to USB-C cable, easy enough, but your configuration might be a bit more complicated. In any case, once you can connect ’em, make sure you have Android File Transfer on your Mac and it should automatically start up when the phone is plugged in!
On the phone you’ll immediately see a pop-up once you connect the two devices via cable:
You’ll want to allow this, of course. Even with that, though, don’t be surprised if the AFT app pops up this error:
No worries. Just click OK – which quits the app – and then relaunch it from your Applications folder. You should be good to go.
Still complaining? On your phone double check that you have USB access configured properly by going into the Settings app, searching for “USB” and checking these options:
Match what I have above, unplug, plug it in again and you should be good to go!
You’ll know because this will show up on your Mac screen:
Files can be in odd and confusing places so if you’re looking for photos you took and video you recorded, you’ll want to skip both the Pictures and Movies folders. I told you, confusing. Instead you’re using the digital camera features, so you need to look in the DCIM folder on the phone. DCIM is the rather clumsy acronym “Digital Camera IMages”.
Once you open that, you’ll find everything you seek:
The names look super confusing, but they’re actually easy to decode: year month day _ hour minute second . format. For example, the topmost video (MP4 are video files, JPG are JPEG format photos) is from 2019 / 03 / 24 at 11:53:43, or March 3, 2019 at almost noon.
You can’t preview images within the Android File Transfer app, but you can copy everything en masse and winnow through them directly once they’re on the MacOS X system. Easiest solution? Click and drag the “Camera” folder from the AFT app onto your Desktop. You’ll get a progress bar as it proceeds:
Note you can grab all your Android screenshots too by grabbing the “Screenshots” folder within “DCIM” too. Super easy!
Open up the copy of the Camera file on your Desktop and the Mac Finder will add previews for any formats it understands:
And that’s it. Pretty darn easy once you know how to work with the Android File Transfer program. When you’re done, just unplug the Samsung Galaxy S8 (or whatever Android phone you have). Easy!
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about Android for many years, please take the time to check out my Android help area!