Alexander: Treat your iPhone like a camera

  • Article by: STEVE ALEXANDER
  • Star Tribune
  • July 1, 2014 - 6:06 PM

Q: I have an iPhone 5 and I’m trying to move the photos I took with it to my PC. But I can’t open the “.ithmb files” on the iPhone that contain my photographs. I want to open and copy these photos before I dump my iPhone and start over with a Samsung smartphone, which Verizon Wireless assures me will be more compatible with my PC. How can I do it?

MARY KAY DAVIS, Baton Rouge, La.

A: You need to treat your iPhone like the digital camera that it is. That means viewing its photos through Windows Explorer instead of iTunes, which was never designed to be a photo-viewing program.

When connected to your PC’s Windows Explorer program via USB cable, your iPhone will display photos in the standard JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) format that can be viewed or stored on the PC. You don’t have to deal with .ithmb files (an Apple format that your PC can’t read without first using a file conversion program).

Here’s how to import all your iPhone photos to your PC at once: After connecting your iPhone to the PC, open Windows Explorer. You’ll probably see a menu that offers to “import pictures and videos.” If you don’t see that menu, right-click the iPhone icon in Windows Explorer and from the resulting menu choose “import pictures and videos.”

If you want to import only some of your iPhone photos, use the same menu to choose “open device to view files.” When your pictures appear in the Windows Explorer directory, you can drag and drop individual photos from the list to your computer’s C: drive (you might want to put them in a particular file folder to make them easy to find).

For step-by-step directions that take into account the differences between Windows 7 and Windows 8, see

I would disregard the advice of the person who told you that a Samsung phone is more compatible with your PC than an iPhone is. They’re about the same.

Q: When I recently joined Google+ (Google’s social media service), I didn’t realize what I was getting into. Google+ started storing my ­photos and videos to the Google cloud, which took forever and seemed to slow down my laptop. In addition, my Google storage capacity quickly went from 18 percent full to 55 percent.

As a result, I want to leave the Google+ service, but continue to use other Google services, such as Gmail and the photo editing program Picasa. How can I do that?

GARY DIAMOND, Eden Prairie

A: You can drop Google+ and continue to use Google’s more popular services, such as Gmail and Picasa. In addition, you won’t lose your Google+ friends (they’ll still be in your contacts list), photos (you’ll be able to access them through Picasa) or “chat buddies” (they’re still available through Gmail).

For step-by-step directions on how to leave Google+, see

E-mail tech questions to or write to Tech Q&A, 425 ­Portland Av. S., ­Minneapolis, MN 55488. Include name, city and telephone number.

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