How to transfer photos from Samsung Galaxy SII to the PC – update Nov. 10, 2013

Since posting my little how-to back in March, 2013, I’ve had a number of people commenting that the instructions did not work for them. With help from other commenters, and a lot of time on the technical forums, I’ve seen a pattern emerge. Basically, most of the problems are not to do with the Samsung phone itself, but with the Android operating system the phone uses.

In simple terms, Android is to the Samsung what Windows is to the PC, except that there seem to be far more versions of the Android – even within the same model of Samsung phone.

The original how-to I wrote works for Android version 4.0.3. ONLY.

To find out what version of the Android software your phone uses, go to Applications, then Settings, then About Phone [down the bottom of the menu list].

Now, if your version of Android is earlier than 4.0.3 – say 2.0 or 3.0 – then there is a good chance the reason you cannot transfer photos to the PC is because your phone came with only 1 cable. In these earlier versions, this one cable was supposed to work for both charging the phone and transferring data.

Over time, this cable can become slightly damaged. It may still charge the phone, but it can no longer transfer data.

The solution we [other commenters and I] have found was to try a dedicated data transfer cable. They are relatively inexpensive so worth a try. If the new cable works then you know the problem was with the cable rather than the phone.

Another problem we discovered was that for some versions, the process works BUT apparently you have to try it THREE times in a row before it ‘clicks’. I have no idea why that should be, but more than one commenter has said it works.

Finally, we have the issue of people whose version is more recent than 4.0.3. In particular, those running Android version 4.0.4.

Apparently, this version of Android does not have the USB option at all.

“Samsung removed the USB mass storage option in the ICS update, instead moving entirely to MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) for file transfers.”

The ICS update mentioned in the quote above is the update to 4.0.4.

In searching for info on this Media Transfer Protocol [MTP] I stumbled across a workaround. Before people get too excited, however, this workaround is for the Samsung Galaxy S3 running the 4.0.4 software, not the S2. Moreover, the workaround is for transferring photos from the S3 to Linux, not Windows.

The core of the workaround seems to be to use the ‘Camera [PTP]’ option instead of MTP.

If you follow the link below, it will take you to a step-by-step guide [with screenshots] on using this workaround. The person who posted the guide is called Rocksockdoc, and the post is ‘permalink #12’, so you will have to scroll down a bit until you find it.

Unfortunately I can’t experiment with the workaround because my version doesn’t support it, so I cannot recommend that anyone tries it. However if someone does try it, could you please let us know whether it worked or not? If the workaround works it could save a lot of frustrated users.

And last but not least, I’d like to thank everyone who commented on the original post. The success stories all made my day, and the not so successful stories motivated me to learn more about smart phones than I otherwise might have done. Thank you so much for your support.



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

8 responses to “How to transfer photos from Samsung Galaxy SII to the PC – update Nov. 10, 2013

  • Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB)

    My iPhone is supposedly set to stream my phone pictures to my computer via iCloud. Alas, it stopped working and I don’t know how to fix it. I used to plug my phone into my laptop, and the transfer started automatically, but now I have to do a bunch of convoluted steps to get my pictures One of these days I’ll take the time to figure it out and find a blog post as helpful as the one you’ve just written that will work my phone 🙂


    • acflory

      Thanks Jeri. 🙂 I don’t know why communication between smart phones and computers isn’t plug and play like every other device – e.g. printers, speakers, scanners etc.

      You’d think they’d have communications protocols that were standard across all devices and all computers. -shrug- I guess that would make life too easy… :/


  • davidprosser

    OK, I confess.I am a Luddite.


  • EllaDee

    I love how you invite and use collaboration, celebrate it:) An ingredient of success, I think. One of the great benefits of the online world is information and forums of all kinds. It may, as with the Android issues, taking a little solving but we’re never alone. Someone else always seems to have the same experience or a solution, or part thereof.


    • acflory

      Yes! I have been astounded by both the feedback and the interactions with people who’ve come to the post looking for answers and stayed to help find solutions.

      It really has been a collaborative process.


  • geooorge

    God. Don’t get me started on Android flavors and what Google has done with the lack of version control. Segmented their user base like crazy.


    • acflory

      I never intended to learn about Android but I’ve had to start on a really steep learning curve since March. It almost seems as if Google is beta testing each version on unsuspecting users who just want to ‘do’ things with their devices.

      Much as I dislike some aspects of Apple – like the price – their devices do seem to ‘work’ a little better, at least from a distance. Never having owned one I can’t really comment.

      This thing with Android does seem to be ridiculous 😦


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