Transferring media from mobile phones

So now I have all these great photos and videos on my phone but they're no use to me there, I want people to see them. What next?

In most instances, you are going to need to transfer your pictures, videos or sound recordings from your phone to a computer so that you can either edit them, post them to your blog via the internet or use them in your communications. 

There are various ways to get images, sounds and videos from your phone to your computer, but the the most common ways are by using an external memory card and memory card reader, using a data cable,  Wifi, or Bluetooth. 

Some mobile phones come with data cables which allow data to be transferred directly to a computer. Many new high end phones include Wifi connectivity which makes it very easy to transfer data directly to your computer using the internet. 

If you neither of these options are a possibility for you, consider Bluetooth. Bluetooth is a technology which allows two handsets or a handset and a computer within close proximity of each other to transfer information between each other.

Top Tips:

  • If you are buying a mobile phone to use Bluetooth for data transfer, make sure that the mobile phone actually supports this. Sometimes mobiles phones can have Bluetooth capability but they may not allow actual data transfer.
  • your computer does not have internal Bluetooth capabilities, you can purchase a Bluetooth USB device (sometimes called a 'dongle') for a nominal price. 


I have my mobile phone, my computer and Bluetooth connectivity, but how do they work together? 

The computer and mobile phone should be within a 10m range of each other.

  • Activate Bluetooth on both your computer and your mobile phone. The mobile phone needs to be detected as a bluetooth device by your computer.
  • Follow instructions on your computer about 'pairing' a device with Bluetooth.
  • Transfer files.
  • Remember to switch Bluetooth off on both devices when you are finished otherwise your computer or mobile phone could be open to intrusion by others


I have taken photos at an event and want to upload them on the web immediately for others to see  – I don't want to wait until I get back to my office computer?

This is made possible by using the free internet service, ShoZu. Using ShoZu can tag and add comments to the photos on the phone before sending them. It also allows you to add personal email addresses as destinations and send out your photos/videos via email.

  • Shozu can be downloaded and installed on your mobile phone from the internet. See this list for a guide to which phone brands and networks support this service.
  • If you are already sure your mobile is supported, you can head straight to the Shozu Mobile website and download it.
  • Alternatively, if you find that your phone and network are not supported, you can still upload your photos and videos to your favourite sites via MMS from anywhere in the world. Go here to see how it works.

For more information on how Shozu works, see our Mobiles in-a-box toolkit.


Sending Multimedia messages

Multimedia messages allow users with MMS-capable phones to send text, photos and video to one another across a mobile network. MMS can be used to send images/videos to people, as part of a campaign, or to news sites to report on or publicise an event.

Unlike with Bluetooth, MMS does not require the two phones transferring images to be close to each other they can even be in separate countries. Different phones compile MMS messages in different ways, but it essentially involves a similar process to email, where pictures, video and sound files can be sent as attachments.

Although the potential of MMS is great, you should bear in mind that the cost of sending and receiving these files varies greatly between mobile phone service providers and countries. Before you start using MMS as a way of exchanging images or video, it is worth finding out about the costs that will be involved. Also bear in mind, that the MMS function normally has to be set up by the service provider you can find out about this by calling your provider's customers service centre.

Top Tip:  If your intended recipient is unable to receive the MMS for some reason (perhaps the mobile phone is not MMS-enabled, or it is an older handset), then the user will receive a standard text message pointing them to a website where they can view the message and attachments online.

Further Information

More detailed information for campaigners looking to use mobile technology in their work can be found on Tactical Tech's Mobiles in-a-box website.
Email: mobiles{at}