Microsoft OneDrive: A picture-perfect transfer

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

Q. What's the fastest method for transferring photos from my smartphone to my computer to archive pictures and free up disk space on my smartphone?

A. The fastest method for transferring smartphone photos to your computer is to set your smartphone to automatically upload your photos to the cloud; the photos are then synced from the cloud to your computer. For example, all of the photos and videos I take or record with my Android smartphone are automatically uploaded to my Microsoft OneDrive in the cloud (which is free), and then automatically synced to the OneDrive folder on my computer. Following are the steps required to set up this particular solution.

1. Set up a OneDrive account on your computer (free). If you are a Windows user, you probably already have a OneDrive account because the Windows installation routine directs you to set one up. If you are a Mac user or you need to set up a OneDrive account, visit, click Download, and then select the appropriate Download button to install either OneDrive or OneDrive for Business, as pictured below.


Ideally, your OneDrive account login name and password should be the same as your Windows login, so that your OneDrive data are accessed automatically whenever you log in to Windows. Once the OneDrive account is set up on your computer, you can access it either from a browser window or a Windows File Explorer window. As a default, the files in your
cloud-based OneDrive folder are synced to your computer-based OneDrive folder.

2. Set up a OneDrive account on your smartphone. Next, download and install the OneDrive app on your smartphone, and use the same username and login credentials used to set up OneDrive on your computer. Log in to OneDrive, click on Settings, scroll down to Options, and set the Camera upload option to On, as pictured below.


Thereafter, all the pictures you take will sync automatically to your OneDrive account and also to your computer's OneDrive folder, assuming there is available hard-drive space in both locations. As pictures are uploaded to your OneDrive account, they will remain there even if you delete them from your smartphone to free up disk storage. Similar functionality is provided by other online storage providers, among them Google and Dropbox.

About the author

J. Carlton Collins ( is a technology consultant, a CPE instructor, and a JofA contributing editor.

Note: Instructions for Microsoft Office in “Technology Q&A” refer to the 2007 through 2016 versions, unless otherwise specified.

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