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Three Painless Ways to Get Photos Off Your iPhone

Stop emailing photos to yourself. Here are three ways to automate photo syncing with your PC.

They say that the best camera is the one you have with you. By that measure, smartphones are the best cameras around. As I've previously reported, iPhones are the number one camera used to upload photos to Flickr, and I can attest to the fact that it fits in my pocket better than my Nikon D7000. In the past, I've given you some advice on how to take better smartphone photos, which is great, but the most vexing part of using the iPhone is getting photos onto your PC. Rather than emailing photos back to your PC all the time, try one of these three handy ways to automate the process.

Bump to Transfer

There are two kinds of smartphone photographers: People who consider smartphone photos disposable, and mostly keep them only on the phone, and people who want all of their photos copied to the PC for posterity.

If you fall into the first category (you only occasionally want to get certain photos onto your PC) then this solution is for you. Imagine that you want to copy a photo from your iPhone to your computer. Instead of emailing it to yourself, or some other clumsy solution, you could just tap the phone on your PC's keyboard, and your photo would immediately be sent to its destination. To do that, you need a free iOS app named Bump.

Bump was originally designed to let you share contact information with another iPhone owner by bumping the phones together. The app uses accelerometer and location data to know to exchange information with the nearby phone. But in a recent update, Bump now copies photos to the PC if you use the phone to tap the space bar when your browser is open to the Bump page. (You must use Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.)

Use Dropbox

Bump is great, but as I've already pointed out, it is efficient only if you occasionally use it. If you want all of your photos on your PC, there are better options.

One such choice is the venerable cloud storage service Dropbox. Pretty much everyone knows about Dropbox, the site that gives you 2GB of online storage for free. It also offers oodles of opportunities to get gigabytes of additional storage without forcing you to break out your credit card. A client app makes it easy to drag and drop files to the cloud from within Windows.

What many people don't know is that a recent update to Dropbox's iOS app can automatically upload all of your photos and video to Dropbox for you. All you need to do is start the Dropbox app on your iPhone or iPad and any new photos and videos will automatically get transferred to Dropbox (and therefore any PCs to which you are syncing). This is a truly amazing feature. For the first time, I can now get to all of my phone's photos from wherever I am, on whatever device or PC I happen to be using. And the Dropbox app is, of course, free.

CameraSync is Fully Automatic

But as good as Dropbox is, you still have to start the app in order to kick off the sync. Who has time for that? That's where CameraSync comes in.

CameraSync is an iOS app that takes the basic idea behind Dropbox (automatically sync your photos with the cloud) and turns it up to 11. This $2.99 app takes all of your latest photos and videos and copies them to the service of your choice (including Dropbox, SkyDrive, Box, and Flickr) whenever you arrive at a specific location. CameraSync relies on your phone's location services to start doing its thing. So I can specify home and work, for example, (two places with Wi-Fi) and CameraSync will place my newest stuff in Dropbox for me.

In order to use the location-aware feature in CameraSync, you need an iPhone 4 or better, or an iPad 2 or newer.

Hot Pic of the Week

This week's Hot Pic: "Golden Rufous Hummingbird" by Jack Moskovita, Port Hadlock, Washington

Jack writes: "It's rare to see a Rufous in Tacoma, as they only stay a day or so before moving on to Canada. Since they stay so briefly, when this one showed up, I waited outside for over four hours in order to get a shot of him near the flowers." Jack took this photo with a Nikon D5100.

This week's runner-up: "At the Biltmore" by Al Gordon, Johns Creek, Georgia

Al says that he captured this photo with a Panasonic ZS15.

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