Getting a video off an Android phone with difficulties
September 14, 2017 7:36 PM   Subscribe

My mom is on the other side of the country and has a video on her phone that I need. I'd like to get it in the full resolution, not have the resolution be truncated the way emailing sometimes can. I have a google drive but, my mom is not very experienced with her phone and doesn't know how to do this. And I don't have an Android. What's the easiest way to make this happen?

I can talk her through what she needs to do, but I'd like to figure out the easiest method first instead of having us try a bunch of things & having her get frustrated.
She doesn't know how to do anything with her phone except record & play video. I don't think she knows how to transfer it onto her computer. I don't know how to do that on Android either.
She doesn't have a google account (or dropbox) - her email is through her cable provider.
I guess I could talk her through downloading the google drive app but I don't know how that works on Android. Is that the simplest way?
I have an iPhone.

If you have ever done something like this, what did you do? What should I do?

posted by bleep to Technology (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If she could download Picassa and plug her phone into her computer with a USB cable, using the import functionality seems like something you could probably talk her through, if you had it on your computer too. Once she's transferred the video to her computer she can drag and drop the video from Picassa into an email to you.
posted by Hand me my cowbell at 7:44 PM on September 14, 2017

What about Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp?
posted by Automocar at 7:50 PM on September 14, 2017

Response by poster: In my experience with email or text or whatever, while easiest, they can also destroy the resolution & I need to avoid that in this case. (She's also not on Facebook or Whatapp).
posted by bleep at 7:53 PM on September 14, 2017

Plugging an Android phone using a USB-micro USB cable should make it show up as an external storage device/hard drive on any given computer. The trickier bit will be finding the video within the internal file system of the phone. You can try having her search for it, but honestly your best bet is probably having her take it to a nearby public library where they will often have staff on hand to help community members with technical troubleshooting.

Once you have the file off the phone, depending on the size of the file you could either use a free uploading service like Yousendit (Hightail now, apparently) or just have her mail a physical USB drive to you.
posted by Phire at 8:03 PM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

When do you need the video? Have her FedEx the phone to you overnight for Saturday delivery. You take the video off the phone and send it back to her.
posted by AugustWest at 8:22 PM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Uploading the video to Google Drive is super easy. She probably has the Google Drive app on her phone already. I think it's just always there by default on an Android phone. So all she has to do is bring up Gallery, find the video she wants and select it by holding down her finger (not just tapping.) Then she can tap the "share" icon (the 3 dots connected by two lines) and select Google Drive as the place she wants to share it.

If she really never has set up a Google account, she probably should do that first. She can do it on her PC if she's more comfortable using that than her phone.
posted by Redstart at 8:25 PM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I got a free trial to, I think I'm gonna try to just remote control her computer and get the file from her phone to google drive that way.
posted by bleep at 8:44 PM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

If it was made with the standard camera application, it will probably just be in the /DCIM/Camera folder, which you can access from the computer if she plugs it in with a USB cable and tells the phone to share files via USB.
posted by Candleman at 8:47 PM on September 14, 2017

Plugging an Android phone using a USB-micro USB cable should make it show up as an external storage device/hard drive on any given computer.

On more recent versions of Android, plugging in to a computer's USB defaults to a "Charging Only" mode that doesn't allow for file transfer like this, as a security measure. The User has to take an extra step of tapping a notification to select "Transfer Files" mode.
posted by radwolf76 at 10:34 PM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We just tried every method mentioned or suggested above and nothing worked. She's gonna try going to the Verizon store tomorrow.
posted by bleep at 11:35 PM on September 14, 2017

What didn't work? Her sending it to you? I would use TeamViewer and remotely control her phone. I've been able to walk my mom through installing apps, and I do stuff on her cell phone for her via TeamViewer all the time. The nice thing is, I can control her phone from my computer -- doesn't have to be my cell phone. I actually use it to control both her phone or her computer, as needed --
it's on both.Once you have access to her phone, I'd send the file via Dropbox or Google Drive.

If you can't find the file, that's another question, but it's stored on your phone and we could tell you where to get it if that's the particular issue.
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:26 AM on September 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Just noticing that TeamViewer changed their website a lot -- there is a free version for personal use. I believe it's the one called QuickSupport under the Downloads section. That sounds like what I use with my mom. There is also an app in the Android store that is free.
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:37 AM on September 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd have her try to send it with Google photos. I think she can even give you access directly to get photos/videos using it (once they are backed up-which happens automatically).
posted by sulaine at 2:21 AM on September 15, 2017

She tried sharing it to Google Drive and that didn't work? I bet if you explained at what point it went wrong we could offer some suggestions.
posted by Redstart at 7:02 AM on September 15, 2017

Seconding AppleTurnover, get TeamViewer. If you can talk her through installing the app and then reading you the code that will appear in the app once she launches, you can view and/or control her phone to guide her through whatever additional steps you need to take. You can email/sms her the link to the app on the Play Store, which should take her directly to the app page in the store, with an "Install" button (or "Open", if already installed).

For her phone, get either Teamviewer QuickSupport or QuickSupport for Samsung, depending on what brand of phone she has. Download the desktop/mobile client of choice to your computer/phone/tablet, (variously branded "Teamviewer for Remote Support/Access/Control", but any should work. Put in the 9 digit code from the app on her phone, you're off to the races. (There will be a popup dialog on your mother's phone after you disconnect reminding her that you're using the non-commercial free version, and "thank you for playing fair", which is easily dismissed by tapping 'OK", so don't be caught off guard by that.)
posted by yuwtze at 7:26 AM on September 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Tried to have her install the app and it was too hard, she hit an error but couldn't tell me anything about it. So any other screen sharing things that need her to install something is gonna fail.
I found out that she does have a google account so that's nice.

Also when we plugged the phone in, it didn't appear in any of the places it should so that she could navigate into it. She tried 2 different USB ports. If I could see and control the screen I might be able to know why but I don't.
She does have a slow, old busted Windows 7 laptop.

On the phone side, she tried to press and hold the video but there was no Drive icon in there. I have used her phone and is super fiddly and hard to use. She figured out how to choose "Email" on a video but it said it was too big to email. She's going to the Verizon store which I think someone working there will find this easy.
posted by bleep at 7:52 AM on September 15, 2017

Response by poster: Also I have set up a public folder in my drive to drop the video into.
posted by bleep at 7:54 AM on September 15, 2017

You might have her try pressing and holding the video again and make sure she knows what she's looking for and where to look for it. (When I try to help my dad through computer tasks, we typically start out with, "I don't have that choice. No, no, I don't see it, there's nothing like that . . . . Oh, wait.") She's looking for the 3-dot icon shown in most of these images. It's just to the left of the trash can icon on my phone. When she taps it she'll see a number of icons with captions and one should be Save to Drive with an icon like most of these images.
posted by Redstart at 1:25 PM on September 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

It she has any recent Android phone she can download the Photos app from Google. There, I can guarantee 100% that all she has to do to share a file is long press on it, tap the share button, choose your contact, and it will send you a link that will work.

It may downres video to 1080p, as I believe the default is not to share 4K video at full resolution, but anything less than that should work.

Also, the Signal messaging app will send full resolution photos/video if you use its built in attachment button. The send button is a paperclip until you type something, upon pressing you get a pop-up that lets you pick any files on your phone fairly easily when they are just camera files.

Whatever you're asking her to do, download the app to your phone so you can see exactly what she is seeing. (Or as close to it as is possible with Android, anyway)
posted by wierdo at 6:03 PM on September 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ironically there was a deleted answer that said "Find a young person" and they were right. That was the only way in this case.
posted by bleep at 7:04 PM on September 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We did try wierdo's method and she thinks she already had google photos on her phone and opened it up but actually had no idea what she was even looking at or if she was in google photos. The thing about "share a file is long press on it, tap the share button, choose your contact, and it will send you a link that will work." wasn't present at all in what she was seeing. This is a fairly new phone.
posted by bleep at 9:59 PM on September 15, 2017

I'd tell you to have her send you screenshots, but it invariably involves accidentally powering the phone off at least once and she's already frustrated enough.

I'm really surprised it didn't work for her, though, I tested it just before posting to make sure. It occurs to me that she may have been confusing the share button (three dots making linked with lines making up something like a reverse play button) and the overflow menu, which is three dots in a vertical column. One brings up a menu with contacts and apps you can share with, the other is useless.

The same icon shows up when viewing an individual photo/video, but it disappears shortly with all the other controls, so I thought it would be even more confusing to explain verbally. Either way, sounds like you have it licked now, so hopefully she knows for the future. (At least until the next unnecessarily drastic redesign)
posted by wierdo at 12:31 AM on September 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I appreciate the help! But all we know for the future is never to do this again haha
posted by bleep at 3:12 AM on September 16, 2017

I'm a little late here, but I would still make sure to get TeamViewer on her phone and computer. Maybe when you see her next, you can set up both. I use it with my mom at least twice a month to help her with things like burning CDs, putting photos on Facebook, troubleshooting random cell phone questions/problems, etc. It's hugely helpful, and it's eliminated all the frustration I used to have trying to walk my mom through things step by step. I also "train" her on how to do things so she's gotten much more self-sufficient as time as gone on.
posted by AppleTurnover at 8:44 AM on September 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

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