How to use the USB cable to transfer photos from the Samsung Galaxy S II to Windows XP

I recently posted a very unhappy article about my Samsung Galaxy S II phone, and how I could not use the USB cable to upload photos from the phone to my pc. Well… now I know how to do it and I thought I’d share.  :D

Before I begin, I’d like to extend a huge thank you to the girl at Virgin Mobile who took my call, and walked me through the process with understanding and patience. It took a while so… thank you!

Now, the very first thing you have to do is make sure the Galaxy S II’s USB cord is NOT connected to your pc. If it is, none of the following steps, or screenshots will make any sense. More importantly, the process will not work because there is a strict sequence of events that must happen before you plug in the USB cable. I’m serious. UNPLUG IT!

Step 1. Turn on your Galaxy SII and swipe the screen to unlock it. [I did warn you this would be basic].

Step 2. Tap the ‘Applications’ icon on the main screen

Step 3. Inside the ‘Applications’ menu, tap the ‘Settings’ icon

Step 4. You should now be looking at the Settings menu. Right at the top there should be a category called ‘Wireless and Network’. I have circled it in yellow.

galaxy 1

For some reason known only to Samsung, the name of the category is in very small type and easy to miss.

Under ‘Wireless and Network’ you will see options starting with ‘Wi-Fi’, and ending with ‘More’.  I have circled this in red. Tap ‘More’.

Step 5. Under the  ‘More’ menu you will see a new set of options, including ‘USB utilities’. Tap ‘USB utilities’.

Step 6. Under ‘USB utilities’ you will see just one option – ‘USB mass storage’.

Beneath that you will see an icon telling you to ‘Connect Storage to pc’.

Tap the ‘Connect Storage to pc’ icon as shown below.

galaxy 3

Step 7. Finally, you will see ‘USB utilities – Connect USB cable to use mass storage’.

galaxy 4

At last you can CONNECT THE CABLE!!!!

Once you connect the USB cable from the phone to the pc,  you will hear your pc make a noise to alert you to the fact you have connected a new device.

On the phone, you will see a new screen.

galaxy 5

Step 8. Tap the ‘Turn on USB storage’ icon and then tap the ‘OK’ icon as shown below.

galaxy 6

Step 9. From this point onwards, you will have to follow the Windows Wizard to transfer the photos to the folder of your choice.  These should be fairly easy to follow, however if anyone needs help I can send you the screenshots by email.

Step 10. When you have finished transferring your photos, you will see the following screen on your phone.

galaxy 7

To unmount [or eject] your phone from the pc, look on the taskbar of your pc for the ‘Safely Remove Hardware’ icon [as shown in the following screenshot].

safely remove hardware 1

Step 11. Right click the icon and follow the Windows prompts.

When you see the following Windows message you are ready to go back to the phone for the last step.

safely remove hardware 2

Step 12. On your phone you can now tap the ‘Turn OFF USB storage’ icon as shown in the first graphic under Step 10. And finally, disconnect the USB cable.

Phew. We’re done. The whole process is a bit convoluted but once you get used to it it’s bearable. Just.



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About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

145 responses to “How to use the USB cable to transfer photos from the Samsung Galaxy S II to Windows XP

  • Anonymous

    HI, thanks to your advice I copied all my images across to PC. only annoying aspect was that it also copied all the current news and sporting images. Any idea how not to get them next time???

    • acflory

      Hi Someone. :) Thanks for letting us know how you went. I’ve just done a quick check on my phone but couldn’t find any way of specifying what gets dumped into USB storage.

      However! If you use Windows 7, you can manually copy selected files from your phone to your pc.

      After you connect to the pc, you will get a small autoplay window.

      Do not select Import Pictures.

      Instead, select General Options/Open folder to view files. Windows will then display a list of folders [on your phone].

      From those folders, select DCIM. Under DCIM there are two sub folders. Select the Camera folder.

      Now you should see all your files. You can manually copy one or more files from the USB Storage across to a folder on your pc. It’s a bit tedious if you have heaps of files and lots of pictures, but it can be done. :)

      Hope this helps. Cheers.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks so much! This article helped me a lot!

  • Syarifah amani

    thank you so much for the guidance !!!! :D (Y)

  • missreverie

    Thank you so much for being so helpful. Been using a smart phone for over 2 years and only figured how to do this. Yeah, very smart of me. Bless you!

    • acflory

      lol – don’t feel bad, Missreverie! I actually think smart phones are harder to get used to than a computer. Took me ages just to get used to swiping instead of looking for a button/key to press!

  • Melissa

    When I connect my phone to my laptop to get my pictures it makes them all a small size? How do I change that?

    • acflory

      Hi Melissa. What you’re looking at are ‘thumbnails’. If you open one of those pictures in say – MS Paint – it will display as full size. In fact it will be so big you will probably have to resize it.

      Hope this helps. :)

  • Cobra

    Thanks Pal. You saved me a lot of headaches. Your instructions were perfect. It’s actually a lot easier than I thought

  • Anonymous

    tx….it helped a lot

  • Jan

    Hi! I have been up all night but I HAVE FOUND A WAY to copy photos from S2 to pc. (I found your blog & instructions, but it didn’t work) I have 4.1.2 on my S2
    here goes:
    connect phone to pc via usb cable (as though you are charging)
    pull down the roller blind thing at the top of the screen
    tap on the trident charging icon
    hey presto! usb pc connection comes up!
    it will be ticked on media device (MTP), so tick camera (PTP)
    menu comes up on pc, choose photos via windows live
    you can transfer all of them or select which ones you want.
    I did this a second time after taking another photo with the phone, and you choose all the photos again OR just the new ones!!
    But remember to retick media device before you disconnect (just unplug cable) OR it will not work as a media device

    • acflory

      That is brilliant! Thank you so much for coming back and sharing that info. I’ll do a quick post with your comments to make sure others find it as well. :)

      You may just have saved the sanity of some S2 users!

  • Anonymous

    Thankyou so much! it really helps! MWA

  • Anonymous

    but sometimes it wont work.pls help

  • Jan

    Anon: try unplugging the cables and reconnecting everything as though you are doing it for the first time

  • Kamrul Khan

    send me some screen shot for assistance in Downloading

  • Kamrul Khan

    Having problem transferring photo from Samsung S2 Camera to my PC

    • acflory

      Ahh. If these steps don’t work you may have :

      a) A different Android version to mine, or
      b) You may have a faulty cable

      Unfortunately, it will be trial and error to work out what the problem actually is. A couple of people have commented on how they’ve solved this problem. Perhaps those comments could help as well.

      Sorry, I couldn’t do more.

  • RHEY

    HI Good evening sir. I was doing the same thing, but i doesnt work with my samsung galaxy s2, ive been weeks on working on this problem. Give me a help sir? I am the one who commented before on March 30th, 2014 at 8:25 pm sir :) Reply ASAP

    • acflory

      Ah, hi Rhey. I just checked and I see I suggested checking the cable. If that didn’t work then the only other possibility is that your version of Android is different to mine. Apparently there are a number of Android versions for the SII. :(

      Some other people with different Android versions have offered some suggestions, I think in a related post. I’ll try and find the post and link to it.

    • acflory

      Found the post!

      I hope this helps, Rhey. And good luck!

  • javvaji venu kumar

    I did all every thing as you said above but my telling usb not recognized

  • Sara

    I’ve had my Galaxy S2 for almost 2 years and only transferred images 3 times because it always takes me over an hour and I follow your directions (nothing happens), get frustrated do something different, follow your directions again (again nothing happens) repeat till I want to throw all technology out the window and then magically something happens and I don’t know what because I’m so frustrated. So this time I’m commenting and hoping someone know what’s going on.

    I follow your directions at the beginning-it’s at step 7 where everything stalls out: The phone has been telling me “switching to mass storage mode. Do not connect USB cable yet…” and the little circle has been swirling for more than 5 minutes. This is the point where I get frustrated and try something different. Is this normal? Does it always take so long? Do I just need to be patient or is there something else I should be doing.


    • acflory

      No, it shouldn’t take that long Sara. If I’m understanding this correctly, the problem occurs before you actually connect the cable…so that means it’s /not/ a fault in the cable. What it could mean though is that the ‘Mass Storage Device’ in your phone is faulty, or perhaps not seated properly?

      I’d take it in to a Samsung dealer and ask to have it checked.

      Does anyone else have some more info on this one?

  • KM

    Thanks for the info! I haven’t tried this yet (hubby not home with his phone) but was wondering if it needs to be a Samsung brand USB cable? We got the phone 2nd hand so only have a generic cable and when I’ve plugged it into the computer before (not using the above steps just plugged it in as you would an iphone), the computer didn’t even recognise anything had been plugged in. Is this normal if you don’t follow the steps above?

    • acflory

      I’m not sure whether using a generic brand of cable will make a difference or not, but the sequence of steps definitely does. Another thing that can make a huge difference is the Android version number.Mine is 4.0.3.
      Hope it all works for you.

  • KM

    Great stuff, it worked! Finally we can get all the pics off his phone. Thanks so much for these instructions.

  • Akash bhatt

    hello sir, whenever i attach usb cable with my phone s2-t989 hercules.. it is charging, but i am not getting any usb icon on notification bar and connet to pc option.. help me out,,

    • acflory

      Hi Akash Bhatt. My version of the SII came with 2 cables – one to charge and one to transfer data. Other users have had some success by trying a dedicated cable to transfer data only. I hope this helps.

  • Sam

    OMG Thankyou!!! Thankyou!!! This has been a nightmare wasted two days figuring out how to get them off…wished i had googled this sooner, thanks so much for uploading this :)

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