How to transfer photos and ring tones to your cell phone
By far the most frequently asked question I receive at RickySays.com is "How do I transfer a photo from my computer to my cell phone? (or vice versa)"
Cell phone manufacturers often don't ship software with their phones that would do this for free, because they'd rather make money on transfer fees. Windows doesn't provide much help either.
For example, I bought a Motorola Razr v3 phone and it only came with a user's manual and a charger; there was no software for transferring any files to my computer, and nothing built into Windows XP or Vista that would recognize my phone.
Fortunately there are a few ways to transfer photos or ring tones from your PC to your cell phone (or from your cell phone to your PC):
- USB Data Cable
I'll discuss each of these approaches in this article.
Transfer using email
You can send your phone an email with the photo or ring tone as a file attachment. For AT&T/Cingular customers the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. For example, if your cell phone number is 691-548-1294 then you'd send an email to email@example.com and it would arrive as a text message on your cell phone.
Once you receive the text message on your cell phone, you can view the photo or ring tone and save it as your wallpaper or in your phone's audio library. On the Motorola Razr, when you view the picture you can select the "Set as Wallpaper" menu option.
The downside to this approach is that it costs money to read text messages - as much as a penny a kilobyte. This might not sound like much, but when you consider that most pictures are about 75kb that adds up to about 75 cents for each photo that you send.
Of course cell phone companies want you to transfer photos from your cell phone using email, because that way they can charge your for the data transfer.
However, you can transfer pictures, video, and ring tones directly to your cell phone without recurring carrier service fees using a Bluetooth connection or a USB data cable.
Transfer with a USB data cable
You can transfer as many photos or ring tones as you like to your cell phone for free using a USB Data Cable that connects your computer to your cell phone.
Windows XP or Windows Vista don't come with software to recognize your phone and handle the file transfer however, so you'll need a copy of DataPilot (or similar program) which works with all major phone types.
Fire up DataPilot, and plug one end of the usb data cable into your phone and the other end into the usb port on your computer. DataPilot will display a list of the existing photos, ring tones, and videos on your cell phone.
Choose the folder on your PC that contains the files you want to move, select the files (or folders) and click the transfer button to copy them over to your cell phone.
You can also copy the other way, and use DataPilot to transfer photos or ring tones from your cell phone to your computer.
They have a version of DataPilot for the Mac that works the same way.
Here's the download link: DataPilot.
Transfer using a Bluetooth connection
You can transfer photos, ring tones, and videos from your computer to your cell phone for free using a wireless Bluetooth connection.
Bluetooth has a 30-foot range, so you don't even need to have the phone right by you to be able to transfer files to it. In fact, you can keep your phone in your briefcase or backpack and still have no problems connecting to your laptop with Bluetooth.
Bluetooth is built into most new computer systems. If you have Bluetooth enabled on your system, you'll see a Bluetooth icon in the lower right side of your Windows task bar. You can also open your Control Panel from the Start button, and if you don't see a Bluetooth icon then you don't have Bluetooth on your system.
If your computer doesn't have Bluetooth built-in, you can get a Bluetooth adapter from the CellPhoneShop or from a local computer store. Just make sure to get one that supports USB 2.0, which is much faster than the older 1.1 protocol.
Most phones ship with Bluetooth disabled to save on battery life, so you'll first need to enable Bluetooth on your phone. The steps below are for a Motorola Razr phone:
Open the phone and select the following menu options:
Menu --> Settings --> Connection --> Bluetooth Link --> Setup --> Power
Change the Power setting to "On". This will enable Bluetooth on your phone. (The center button on the top of the button pad is the Menu button ).
Next you'll need to pair (connect) your Bluetooth phone with your computer, which sets up a connection and identifies your phone for future connections.
I've covered Bluetooth pairing in another article titled How to Pair a Bluetooth Device with your Computer. You'll be asked to provide a unique PIN number for your phone, which is just any series of numbers that you choose (1111 will work fine as long as you don't have any other Bluetooth devices using that PIN).
Once you've paired your Bluetooth phone with your computer, you'll need software with drivers for your phone.
Ringtone Media Studio 2 supports all the major cell phone models and lets you transfer photos, videos, and ring tones over a Bluetooth connection. It also has some handy tools for editing ring tones, photos, and videos.
After you install and run RMS, you'll see a list of files on your system on the left window. Select the photos, videos, or ring tones of your choice, and click the transfer button to copy them over to your phone.
That's all there is to it. RMS figures out the right place to put the files on your phone.
If you don't have any ring tones or would like new ones, you can also use Ringtone Media Studio to create free ring tones (it even comes with a library of over 8,000 real music and polyphonic ringtones, photos & videos).
When you open the song in RMS it will display a sound graph in the lower window. Just click and drag the mouse pointer on the sound graph to choose how long you want the song to play, and RMS will automatically convert it to ring tone format for your phone.
Here's the download link: Ringtone Media Studio 2.
Both the USB Data Cable and Bluetooth options let you transfer photos and ring tones between your cell phone and your computer - as many times as you want and without any carrier transfer fees.