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):

  1. Email
  2. USB Data Cable
  3. Bluetooth

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 your_number@cingularme.com. For example, if your cell phone number is 691-548-1294 then you'd send an email to 6915481294@cingularme.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.

Bluetooth Dongle for Cell Phone File TransfersIf 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.

I had one quesion. How do I Email pictures from my RAZR phone to my
email?? I notice that your article says that it cost like 75cents to do that. Can you please help me out. Thanks bro.

Mario

Ricky's picture

I have a Motorola Razr as well. Here's how you email a photo:

  1. View the picture on your phone (Menu --> Multimedia --> Pictures).
  2. Press Menu and then choose the "Send in Message" option.
  3. Select [One Time Entry].
  4. Use the # key to change to text entry (we want to enter an email address in the phone number field.
  5. Enter your email address.

That's all there is to it :-)

As the new owner of a Motorola MOTOKRZR K1m phone through Verizon, I discovered that through some lovely logic, Verizon has decided to purposely block this feature on their phones using their software. However, you can get around it using the Motorola Software Update and a program called P2kCommander. Here is a page with good details on how to use P2kCommander to upload ring tones to your Verizon phone.

Ricky's picture

Thanks for the info Steve - I'm sure this will be very helpful for those folks who are using Verizon phones!

Why won't this be helpful to verizon customers. Can you not send it in a txt form with verizon?

Nope ! Verizon strips the mp3 attachment out of the text message.

Wow, thanks for this! I was about to just give up on this before I found that guide. (:

I have t-mobile how do i get photos to my cell phone through my e-mail?

Ricky's picture

Send email to your_number@tmomail.net with your picture as an attachment, and it'll be sent to your phone. So if your phone number is 970-549-8127 you would send an email to 9705498127@tmomail.net (without the dashes in the number part).

If text messaging is in my plan...where I pre-pay for a certain # of text messages, do I still get charged for sending a picture from email to my phone?

How can I send a picture to my nextel phone from email...my phone # is 815 955 5529

Raymond,

You will need to email it to your phone via your phone number@messaging.nextel.com.

I have been sending pics from my Iphone 3G to the number@messaging.nextel.com. Just recently I noticed they're showing up in my Windows live hotmail sent folder. They never did before. My question is would the pictures I'm sending to the nextel cell phone as an e-mail also show up in this person's computer e-mail? It was a pain to delete out of my folder on my computer & I don't want them to have to do this as well. Please advise.

I have a sasktel plan. what email do i put to send it to my phone?

Are DataPilot and RMS2 only compatible with PCs? I ask because I have a Mac; am I out of luck?

Ricky's picture

Hi Derek,

Fortunately, DataPilot is available for both the Mac and PC :-)

Here's a link to their site: http://www.rickysays.com/datapilot
Once you're there, click the Products link and you'll see a link to DataPilot for the Mac.

how do u get ringtones onto a VERIZON phone????

I have been trying to figure out how to transfer my phone photos directly to my computer via cable. I haven't had any luck. Can you help. I have an Alltel Motorazr V3 and am running Vista on my laptop. Thanks

Ricky's picture

Have you tried Motorola's PhoneTools?

Here's an article that describes how to use it to transfer photos from your RAZR phone to your computer: http://www.rickysays.com/how-do-I-transfer-pictures-from-razr-to-pc

Hope it helps!

i am haveing a huge issue with my cell phone i use a samsung a737 its a att phone

i try 2 send my phone a ring tone /wall papper and pics to my phone in email i did all the stuff your saying 2 do but wen it shows as a text it has no file attacment its just got a line saying from and and then a thing saying --------------------- and a werid yahoo message i am lost with it cause its dumb they will let the text go thro but not the file any ideas?

i added a ringtone to an email as an attachment and sent it to my phone. i recieved it as a text msg but i saw no place where i could open the attachment in the msg. what should i do?

Same problem here, with not being able to open attachments on my Cricket! Get pics sent to me though. If you find a way to get around this let me know

ive done the @tmomail.net but i didnt get message back

How do I get it sent to my verizon phone?

where can you get one of the USB cables?

Ricky's picture

A USB data cable comes with the DataPilot software program discussed in the article above.

Hi, I am able to transfer ringtones to my motorola krazr k1, i am also able to hear them. They are recorded on the micro sd card that i have in the phone. I am unable to set them as a ringtone when people call, I have noticed that the icon next to the name of the song isn't exactly like the other ringtones included in the phone. I am also unable to copy the file from the sd card to the phone because the option isn't available. Do you have a solution for me????

Have you figured this one out? I have the same issue with my KRZR. I have the disc that came with it, to creat the ringtone, and transfer to the phone, but once it's in there, there doesn't seem to be a way to set it as a ringtone.
Thanks.

Ricky's picture

I wonder if the music file is DRM-protected.

Does it have a regular mp3 file extension, or is it a .m4p extension? (the format that itunes uses for DRM-protected music files... which can't be used on cell phones).

When someone emails me a picture FROM a pc TO my cell phone, it just shows the attachment name as text, along with any text the person wrote. It won't show the actual picture. How can I get the picture to show, not just the attachment name?

Any help?

Ricky's picture

What type of phone are you using?

I use an Alltel LG AX245.

Kind of a cheap phone, so will I need to go online to see these pictures? axcessmypics.com?

em i have a razr and when i try to email from my computer to my phone it just comes in as jiberish and i dont get my picture / ringtone

any help this is what im doing exactly

i use msn hotmail and i send it to 7853464726@message.alltel.com

i attach the photo and i click send ill get the message but not the photo

any help?

I just got two new phones for me and my wife, both Samsung. Mine's a t639 and my wife has a t819. I emailed an mp3 to my phone and it worked great(a little bit quiet). I sent one to my wife, and it seemed to compress the file because it sounds horrible! I sent it as 600k and it was received as 25k! Any ideas?

FYI, Ringtone Media Studio will only transfer from PC to phone. Bluetooth connection will not work with phones that have file transfer function locked (disabled by mfr at the request of carrier)

Yuor post was helpful, but here's my problem. I have the mp3 ringtone downloaded to my phone, it is in my sounds folder, it will play in my sounds folder, but I can't set it as a ringtone. The service I'm on is Alltel. I downloaded the tone from funfor mobile.com. Is there any hope?

i have the same problem as gary, i have the mp3, it'll play.. but no "set as ringtone" option.. anything i can do?

i dont have have a set as ringtone option, please help me!

did you copy it to the phones memory first? you cant set a song stored on a flash card as a ringtone without copying it

how do you send pictures from a computer to a verizon phone

what about boost mobile how to i send i message from my email to my phone

how can i add a signature on my sms text messaging on my Samsung t819??

Hey wazzup. Per your recomendation, I bought the Datapilot software. I already have a USB that can connect my cell and my PC. However, I am not able to read the pics from my phone. From page 44 of the user manual, it says in order to transfer pics from my cell to my PC, I go to image editor, then on menu bar I do communication and then read. But "read" is kinda dimmed out. Is there some software or hardware that is supposed to come to me in the mail here and I am just being impatient or is there something I am doing wrong to transfer the pics from my cell to my PC?

I appreciate any help you can give.

Thanks,

Jeff

Ricky's picture

Hi Jeff,

What kind of phone do you have? Some phones have this feature disabled, and there are a few discussions on Data Pilot's website that should help you determine if your phone supports this feature: http://www.datapilot.com/support/kb_summary.asp?cat=25

You can also use this page to look up supported features for all phone types: http://www.susteen.com/techsupport.htm

Hope that helps!

Dear Rick,

I read over all this, but i was wondering, can you email a picture or mp3 file if you have Verizon? Or is it only for Att and T-Mobile? Anybody know?

Ricky's picture

Yes, you can do email with Verizon, but you can't transfer via usb data cable.

is there a specific format to use? i noticed for t-mobile it was thenumber@tmomail.net. wat about to a verizon phone?

It's yournumber@vzwpix.com ... with no dashes. I have Verizon myself and I do this all the time!!!

Hope this helps :o)

I was able to attach and email a ringtone to my ATT Matrix and received the text message but the ringtone is not attached. What do I do?

what is the email for verizon??? please please please answer.

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