Jun 262013

imageIf you’re like us, you find yourself taking more and more pictures with your smartphone instead of your normal camera.  That really messes up our procedures of getting the pictures from the camera to the computer and organizing them there.  How do we get the pictures from the smartphone to the computer?  If you are a Geeks on Tour member, you can watch some past tutorial videos on how to transfer pictures by attaching a cable from the phone to the computer: Import Pictures with Android and Import pictures from an iPad/iPhone.  But now, there is an even easier option.

Dropbox, is the indispensible Cloud storage and synchronizing utility.  We’ve written about it several times, and mention it in almost every seminar since it’s our Dropbox folder where we store all our seminar materials!  Dropbox also has a special feature called “Camera Upload.”  It is nothing short of magic!  Now I take a picture on my phone and the next time I sit down at my computer, that picture is there in the Dropbox/Camera Upload folder.

Add More Dropbox Storage Space by Using Camera Uploads

The Free version of Dropbox starts you out with 2GB of storage space.  If you’re going to upload pictures from your smartphone to your Dropbox account, you’ll need more!  The folks at Dropbox realize this.  If you install the latest version of the Dropbox App on your Android or iPhone, you will earn up to 3GB in additional storage.  You will earn the additional storage for every 500MB that you actually use in Camera Uploads.  Once you’ve used it, you can delete the photos from your dropbox folder and you still have the extra storage available to you.

Steps to use the Camera Upload Feature

  1. dropbox-androidYou must already have a Dropbox account.  This means you have an account on www.Dropbox.com and you also have downloaded the app to your computer and have a Dropbox folder on your computer.
  2. Download and install the latest Dropbox App on your phone.  Get it from the App Store on your iPhone or iPad, or the Play Store on your Android phone or tablet.
  3. Make sure the Camera Upload option is turned on for the App on your mobile device.  Notice in the screen image at right that you have the option to allow the uploads only when your phone is connected to WiFi.  This means that it won’t use up the GB on your data plan.  It also means that the upload may not be instant.  If you want the upload instantly, and don’t mind using your cellular data plan, then choose the second option.

That’s it!  From now on, when you take a picture using your phone, it will automatically be uploaded to your Dropbox account online, AND synchronized with your dropbox folder on your computer.

We have such fun showing this in our seminars.  I feel like a magician.  I take a picture of someone in the front row of our seminar using my phone.  Then I immediately set the phone down, raising my hands in the air.  “Look Ma, No hands!”  While Jim is sitting at the computer, which is projected onto a big presentation screen, he opens the Dropbox Camera Upload folder and voila! the picture I just took is there.

Viewing the Camera Uploads with Picasa

The Camera Uploads folder on your computer, is within the Dropbox folder.  You can view it using Windows Explorer (or Macintosh Finder) just like any other folder.  I check it regularly and move the pictures from the Camera Uploads folder to a current folder in My Pictures.  This leaves the Camera Uploads folder empty for receiving new uploads, and Picasa will see the new pictures in My Pictures the next time you open Picasa.

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

  22 Responses to “Picasa Tip: Using DropBox to get Pictures from your Smartphone”

  1. Hello, I’ve recently downloaded Dropbox and I was wondering if that once I have uploaded the photos from my phone to the computer,if i would be able to delete the photos on my phone and still have them saved on the computer?

  2. A question, and a comment:

    Question: I’m confused. If auto backup moves pics from my phone to google+ automatically, why involve dropbox?

    Comment: I saw elsewhere on your site the question about deleting a photo in Picasa and the effect it has on that photo. Many (Including me) thought that the photo, after being deleted in Picasa, would still be in MyPics. Everywhere we look, we’re told that Picasa just is a different way of viewing photos. No photos are every moved or touched. Your original remains untouched. So naturally, I believed that anything I do in Picasa is ‘non-lethal’ to my photos. That is where, I believe, the misconception comes from.

    Still enjoying the learning…

  3. I wanted to store my pictures in dropbox rather than the computer so they’d be safe and accessible anywhere. However, the folders are no longer in picasa. I read that I can go into the folder manager and set picasa to watch the dropbox folder, but it’s not in the folder tree and I don’t know how to get it in there. Thanks for your help!

  4. I’ve just switched from PC to Mac but want to continue using Picasa as my photo manager on the Mac. I don’t like the way the iPhoto library works and I don’t want to have to create dozens of albums to mirror the folders I had in Picasa. In any case, my import of the Picasa database and photos from the PC to the Mac went flawlessly. My problem now is creating an easy way to move photos from photostream into a folder Picasa will read. At this point, it seems I have to “import” the photo into the iphoto library and then move them to the appropriate folder in Picasa. It can be kind of clunky. Do you think using Dropbox instead of photostream to get the photos to the computer would be simpler? That would seem to skip the “import to iPhoto library” step because Picasa could read the “camera upload” folder in Dropbox. Does the “camera upload” feature in Dropbox automatically pick up shared photostreams or will I need to actually move those to the “camera upload” folder in Dropbox? In the final analysis that may be easier than importing to iPhoto and then moving. Thanks for you help.

    • I think you’re making it way more difficult than necessary. Picasa can directly watch your Photo Stream folder, you just need to know where it is. Worst case, you can use Finder to see the Photo Stream folder and cut and paste the pictures to the My Pictures folder.

  5. Hello,
    I am big fan of dropbox and use it to quickly share photos I take of my baby on my phone. I have 900 photos in there and I send photos to it every day. But today for some reason, the album only contains 568 photos…. to my horror, the oldest photos have disappeared. I orgainze them by date order and I can see that the first ones are gone… It was fine yesterday. What could have happened and can I reverse this?
    Please help!

    • Is it possible you have exceeded your space on Dropbox? Although I just looked at their help page and I see nothing about files being deleted due to lack of space. You should get a warning.
      If you upload them to a shared folder, might anyone else sharing that folder have deleted them? You can search your entire account for files, even deleted ones. Here is the Dropbox instructions on looking for missing files: https://www.dropbox.com/help/969/en

  6. My dropbox like the previous customer said camera upload (850 left) waiting on wi fi. Well I found a wi fi connection and now the camera upload is gone. This happened abt 4 days ago and the pictures are not in dropbox nor any other folder. I don’t have the sd card anymore. Does this mean my pics are lost? Where did the 850 pictures get moved to. Thank you

  7. I installed the Dropbox per your instructions. On my iPhone under Photos it says “Camera Upload (55 left)..Waiting for Wi-Fi. I don’t have Wi-Fi. Does this mean I can’t use the Dropbox? If I can use Dropbox without Wi-Fi how do I just select the few pictures I want in Dropbox and not all 55?

    • It sounds to me like your Dropbox setting is using the one pictured in the article for WiFi only. Just go into the menu for Dropbox on your iPhone and change the setting to WiFi or Data plan.

  8. Is there a way to save pictures that are sent to your smartphone?? I get lots of pics of my new grandchildren that way and would like to save them. Will they upload to dropbox too??

    • Yes, if you are viewing a picture on your smartphone, you should be able to touch it and see some icons appear. Learn to recognize your icon for ‘Share’ and touch that. If Dropbox is installed on your phone, it will be one of the sharing options.

      • I just installed Dropbox on my iPhone 4S. I often save the photos that my daughter sends of my grandchildren. I save them to photos. Now I want to move them to Dropbox. When I select them in my photo folder, and hit the share button, I do not see Dropbox as one of my options.

  9. You have answered my question. The other day we were watching our granddaughter and I took some pictures. The next day I tethered the phone to the computer and dragged the photos to the computer. A few days later I opened dropbox and couldn’t figure out why or how the pictures got in there. Now I know. Thanks

  10. We’ve just been wondering how to do that! Thank you!

  11. Great…good info….

    Is dropbox the best to do the reverse….moving edited Picasa pics to your iPad?


    • David, to move edited Picasa pics to your iPad you could Export them using Picasa and put them in a Dropbox folder. They will then appear on your iPad in the Dropbox there.
      Realize that they won’t be in your PhotoStream though. You need to use iCloud to do that. I have iCloud set to synchronize the PhotoStream on my iPad with a PhotoStream folder on my computer. That photostream folder is being watched by Picasa so, in essence, I can edit my iPad photos using Picasa on my PC. hmmmm, sounds like that may be another article huh?

      • Oh most definitely another article!!!

        I think there are many, many Picasa users wondering the best way to move edited pics to Ipad…..many perhaps use various ipad apps to do so accessing web albums….
        This is an interesting and on-going discussion that begs for your special touch.

  12. OK – I am going to try this. I DO take more photos with my smart phone than with my camera – and I have been really frustrated with the Picasa Web uploads recently. Sooo, will try this instant upload to DROP BOX and see how that goes.

    Thanks for your tips! They are VERY helpful 🙂

  13. Let me clarify for myself….should I also move the pics that are in the Camera Uploads on the Dropbox in my computer into the appropriate folders or just the Camera Uploads that are sent there from my phone. (Only 3 more days and I can get a smartphone….finally!)
    Have a great day,

    • MaryMay, I doubt that there are any other pictures in the Camera Uploads folder on Dropbox besides the ones that came from the smartphone. But, if so, I think yes, move them. That’s my procedure anyway. I use the Dropbox Camera Uploads folder solely as a transfer agent. Have fun with the smartphone!

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