How to access your Android phone's texts and photos in Windows 10

You can view photos and text messages from your Android device directly in Windows 10. Follow these step-by-step instructions on how to use the Your Phone Companion app.

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Samsung Galaxy S8

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You just took a photo or screenshot on your Android phone and want to use it on your Windows 10 computer; or, maybe you texted someone on your phone and would like to continue the conversation on your computer. You can do both courtesy of Microsoft's Your Phone feature.

By pairing your phone with Windows and setting up the Your Phone Companion app, you can view and access recent photos and get your text messages. Android 7.0 or higher is required to use the Your Phone app; on the PC, Windows 10 April 2018 Update (Version 1803) or higher is required.

The initial setup process can be tricky, and for now, this works only with Android devices (sorry, iPhone users). But once everything is in place, you should find this an effective way to grab photos and messages from your Android phone at your Windows 10 computer.

SEE: Windows 10 power tips: Secret shortcuts to your favorite settings (Tech Pro Research)

First, you need to link your Android phone to Windows 10. To do this, open Settings and click the category for Phone. At the Your Phone settings screen, click the button to Add A Phone (Figure A).

Figure A

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Confirm your Microsoft account if prompted and then click the button to Link Phone. Type the phone number for your Android phone and click the Send button (Figure B).

Figure B

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You should receive a text on your phone with a link to install the Your Phone Companion app—click that link and install the app from Google Play. Open the app and sign in with your Microsoft Account. Allow the Your Phone Companion app to access your photos, media, and files on your device. Then Allow it to send and view SMS messages. Next, Allow the app to make and manage phone calls. Finally, Allow it to access your contacts (Figure C).

Figure C

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Decide whether to let the app always run in the background. Allowing it to run in the background ensures that you'll be able to access the latest photos and text messages in Windows 10, but the background process chews up more battery life on your phone. To try out the process initially, I suggest you Allow the app to run in the background; you can always change that setting after you know that the feature works correctly.

Next the app needs to check your PC before moving onto the next step. You should see a message in Windows 10 prompting you to send a notification to your phone—click the Send button. On your phone, tap Allow in the notification. Your phone and PC are now connected (Figure D).

Figure D

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Make sure your phone has photos or screenshots in the Google Photos app. In the Your Phone app on your computer, select the entry for Photos and then click the button to See Photos (Figure E).

Figure E

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You should see recent photos, screenshots, or other images you've taken on your phone (Microsoft limits your access to the last 25 photos or screenshots taken on your phone). As you capture additional photos and images, they should automatically appear in the Your Phone app. You can also click the Refresh link to make sure that the latest ones pop up (Figure F).

Figure F

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Next, try viewing your latest text messages. Select the entry for Messages and click the button to See Texts (Figure G).

Figure G

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Your latest text messages should appear. Click a specific message to view it. At the bottom of the screen, you can reply to the message if you wish. You can also create a new message by clicking the New Message button at the top and then composing and sending your message (Figure H).

Figure H

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Troubleshooting help for the Your Phone app

The process doesn't always go smoothly—I've tried it a variety of times and have bumped into hiccups. For example, sometimes the initial link between your phone and computer may not kick in. If you run into any problems along the way, check Microsoft's Help page on the Your Phone app for more information and troubleshooting steps.

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By Lance Whitney

Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books—one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.