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by Ray DeCosta

Q. I have some photos, videos and ringtones that I'd like to copy to my smartphone but when I plug my phone into my computer with a USB cable, it can't find the phone. What can I do?

A. Some smartphones and tablets will allow you to transfer files easily but many will not. Sometimes the problem is the result of a deeply buried setting. But many times it's one of those situations where the phone or tablet manufacturer is trying to restrict the addition of non-approved files for security or perhaps monetary reasons.

Occasionally you can get around these restrictions by removing your SD storage card, plugging it into your computer's card reader, transferring the desired files to it and then re-installing the card into your phone. Fortunately, there's a fool-proof way to make your smartphone visible to your computer and you can even do this wirelessly! While there are a host of file transfer apps available, the one I use most often is AirDroid. This app will allow you to quickly transfer files to and from your computer and see all the files on your smartphone's internal storage. AirDroid may be found here.

When you open AirDroid on your phone, it will initially offer a confusing list of options from which you can choose. Ignore all of these and wait a few moments. A notice will appear in the upper-left section giving you a choice between going through the AirDroid website and, in barely visible type, a local network address for your wireless router. The latter address is the one you want to use and it will look something like this:

Simply type that address into your Internet browser's address bar and after some authorization screens you'll be looking at your smartphone's file system displayed on your computer. Just drag and drop your files to the proper folder and you're done.

For other useful tips to more effectively using your smartphone and tablet, please check out the Prescott Computer Society's meeting on Saturday, April 25 at 1:00 PM at the Prescott Public Library.

Published: Courier 4/18/15 - Page 11A