If you use your Android smartphone or iPhone camera as your primary, or only, camera, chances are good that you’ve accumulated hundreds or thousands of photos over the years. And no matter how good your intentions, most people just don’t have a plan for storing or enjoying those photos after they’re taken.
Lucky for you, we have a quick guide to all of the things you can and should do with the photos you take on your smartphone. Read on for answers to all of the questions you never knew you had, and for recommendations on all of the best apps for your photo-related tasks.
1. Delete the ones you don’t need
The first step in trying to get your camera roll under control is to evaluate whether you really need all of the photos you’ve kept. A series of photos documenting your best friend’s wedding or the night your favorite band was in town? Keep them. Multiple, redundant shots of frothy lattes, or a blurry series of images of your dog? Or all of the extra photos left over from each time you make a GIF? Pretty safe to say that you don’t need them anymore.
You can go through your photos manually to get rid of the ones you don’t need, but especially if you have an iPhone, there are plenty of apps that will make the task a little bit more fun. For instance, you can try Flic, which takes a page out of Tinder’s book in letting you swipe left to delete or swipe right to keep each of the photos in your camera roll. Or try Purrge, which enables you to quickly delete blurry, duplicate, and bad photos. You can swipe up to delete photos, swipe across to delete multiple photos, and keep track of how many photos you have with a Today widget.
2. Back them up automatically
If you haven’t taken the time to do it already, backing up your smartphone photos is the most important thing you can do to make sure that you can enjoy your images years after they were taken. Luckily, there’s a painless way to back up your smartphone photos, and that’s to set up automatic backups. The best strategy is to create redundant backups because the long-term future of any cloud backup system is never 100% certain, and unfortunately, there’s always a possibility, however remote, that a security breach could wipe out your photos.
You can choose from among a number of excellent, and often free, options for backing up your photos. Especially with free services, it works well to create multiple backups without spending lots of money on monthly subscription fees. You can set up automatic backups with Google Photos for Android or iOS and with Amazon Prime Unlimited Photo Storage via the Amazon Photos app for Android or iOS. Options with small subscription fees include Dropbox and its excellent Carousel app for Android or iOS, or Apple’s iCloud.
3. Create shared albums or archives
Once your photos are safely backed up, hopefully on more than one cloud, you can consider creating albums or archives of photos that you can share with your family or friends. There’s got to be something easier than uploading everything to Facebook and trying to help your parents find it, right? Startups have taken some creative approaches to the problem, like Lineage Labs, which recently introduced a device and service called Bevy. It consists of a device you connect to your home Wi-Fi network, and then upload photos from phones and tablets with Android and iOS apps, Windows and Mac computers with desktop apps, and photos from SD cards and USB drivers by connecting them directly to Bevy, which enables you to create a family photo album.
If you’d prefer an app instead of a device, consider Bundle, which enables you to create a shared photo album with friends and family via Android and iOS apps. Seahorse is another option and lets you create “scenes,” or private spaces where only invited users can post and comment on photos and videos. Photoshoot enables you to create password-protected galleries with Dropbox (though you do need to create galleries from your computer). And Lyve enables you to create photo albums collaboratively with others at the same location, such as at a wedding, a festival, or a party.
4. Store and edit them on your computer
While you can certainly access tons of excellent apps on your smartphone, sometimes you just want to transfer your smartphone photos to your PC, especially if you’re using software like Photoshop or the other options in our guide to photo-editing software, which even the best mobile app really can’t replace. You can often download photos from your cloud backups, which is one option. But if you need quick access to a specific group of photos, there are some other options available to you.
First of all, you can directly connect your smartphone to your PC with the Lightning Connector for an iPhone or a mini USB cord for most other phones. Your computer will recognize your phone and enable you to access all of your photos and videos, and from there you can save them to your computer to edit them in your favorite software. In phones with support for removable microSD cards, you can take the card out of your smartphone and use the computer’s built in card reader or a card adapter to plug it into the computer. Alternately, you can use your iPhone’s AirDrop functionality, or a cross-platform app like FileDrop, to connect your phone to your computer with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
5. Print your photos
If you’ve ever been into film photography, you probably know how satisfying it is to get prints of your photos, which you can share with friends or family or frame around your home. You can send photos directly from your smartphone to the stores that you probably already visit with apps like Kodak Moments, which enables you to create an order and pick up the prints at a Kodak kiosk at your local CVS or Target. Or choose Printicular, which will let you send photos from an Android, iOS, or Windows smartphone for printing at your local Walgreens photo center.
If you’d prefer to order prints to be delivered, you have even more options at a wide range of price points. If you want free prints, choose Flag, which prints ads on the back of your photos. The prints ensure that the ads are seen, and the ads ensure that the prints are free. Another option is Takeit, which gives you five free prints each month and enables you to compete with your friends to earn more free prints. Or choose Parabo Press, from the team behind Photojojo, which enables you to order prints large and small, in creative and conventional formats, right from your iPhone.
6. Get a photo book or magazine
If you’ve tried simple photo prints and really like them, then maybe it’s time to try a photo book or a magazine, which make it easy to flip through your favorite photos and revisit them as often as you like (without having to deal with framing or storing individual prints). A favorite app for seeing your photos in bound form is Recently, which will print your 100 most recent iPhone photos in a monthly magazine (or, if you want to spend a little bit of time with the app, you can edit the selection and composition).
Another great option is GrooveBook, which will let you select between 40 and 100 photos each month to be bound into a 4.5-inch by 6.5-inch book. The book features perforated pages so that you can share your photos with friends and family. Or try Mosaic to create a photo book that measures 7 inches by 7 inches, and includes 20 of your favorite photos from your camera roll or social media accounts.
7. Try a camera app that will change your habits
If you’re not so worried about the photos that are already on your smartphone, but are worried about the prospect of accumulating hundreds or thousands of images in the next few years, then you can consider apps that will help you break the habit of taking so many photos in the first place.
A fun option is Photojojo’s Disposable Camera app, which approximates the experience you get with a disposable camera; you can shoot through 27 exposures (with no previews), and then get prints delivered to your door. A similar app is Authenpic, which gives you 24 exposures and prints delivered within a week. These photos won’t be as easy to share to Instagram or Facebook, but if you miss the way you’d actually have to think about what photo you wanted when shooting film, you might enjoy trying one of these apps.
More from Gear & Style Cheat Sheet:
- 3 Great Photo Editing Programs for Beginners
- The Painless Way to Back Up Your Smartphone Photos
- 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a New Camera