Why are apps saving images to phone? (Moto X4)

Although my photos are automatically backed up to Google Photos, I still connect my phone to USB transfer my pics to my laptop at least once a week. A couple of months ago I started noticing that a bunch of pics, literally THOUSANDS, from game apps are being transferred. They seem to be screen shots/videos of gameplay + the facebook pics of my friends that also play. There’s other random, inexplicable things that I believe must also be from the games. These images don’t show up on the phone or in google photos, just during the USB transfer to laptop. I use Photos in windows to do the transfer and would delete them without transferring, but I’m not able to actually see these particular images, like my normal pics, prior to transferring and having to review in File Explorer. I just finish doing a transfer and have 21 real pictures for the month of August, but had to delete at least 1200+. It’s only August 3! It’s difficult to find the pics I’m looking for and deleting the other images around them . I’ve looked, but can’t find settings in the apps that might control this kind of issue. There must be some setting to control this on my phone, right?

Hi @sharonv

Could it be that these are cached images from sites that you have visited?

Also is this a Windows laptop and if so, which OS?

No, these images are definitely graphics from specific games/apps that I play, not websites. The other images are the Facebook cover pics of people I’m friends with that also play the games (linking your facebook acct allows you to gift things with each other). I recognize their pics. I rarely access facebook on my phone, primarily on my laptop.

I think that for some reason these games are caching these images and there should be a way to turn this off on the phone. I’ve never had phones or ios devices do this before (with the same games). I’ve tried clearing the phone’s cache prior to connecting to the laptop, but didn’t solve the issue.

My laptop is windows 10 professional.

Thanks for responding!

Hi @sharonv,

Can you tell us more about this “Photos” software in Windows that you’re using? I’m thinking that somewhere along the way, you clicked an “ok” that helpfully offered to sync images from all locations on the phone, when you really want to sync from only the DCIM folder on the phone.

If you can point us toward the exact Photos software you’re using on the computer, we may be able to help you find that setting.

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  1. Open your Photos App
  2. Tap on :menu: -> Device Folders
  3. Tap on a non camera folder that you don’t want backed up to Photos
  4. Tap the slider at the top “Back up and sync” to disable the backup of that folder to Photos.
    Repeat steps 3 and 4 for all device folders that you don’t want backed up to Photos

When you have removed a Device Folder from the backup it should have a little cloud with an arrow through it indicating that Device Folder is exclude from the cloud backup.

I use the default Photos that’s part of Windows 10 .

When I first plugged the phone in with the USB cable it asked what I wanted to to be the default action for connecting the device and I chose “transfer photos,” but maybe I should change that. Let me try opening file manager for the phone and looking at the DCIM folder. If all those graphics aren’t there that would be the perfect solution to my problem!

I’ll let you know. Thanks:grinning:

I did try checking that previously. Unfortunately, this only applies to the Google Photos backup/transfer. BUT, that shows that Google’s recognizing where NOT to transfer from since the graphics aren’t in Google Photos. That means that I have to figure out where Windows is transferring from that includes those graphics.

Someone suggested I just manually transfer the DCIM files with File Mgr (windows) to see if that excludes the graphics (rather than auto transfer). I think this might be the trick and will update after I try.

One more question: the graphics are just saving as a cloud backup and not being stored on the phone? I’m a little confused because the sync with Google Photos doesn’t include the graphics and I thought the sync was from the cloud. I have a lot of memory on my phone, but would hate to have these graphics using it up. Hmmm. . . Maybe I should stick with figuring out 1 thing at a time!

Thank you!

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Hi @sharonv

I’m gonna throw a thought and suggestion out…
I have a Moto G7 with the Google Files app installed. The app is used to clean out junk files and can browse the file system. When using the “clean” function It will at times pull up what it calls “memes” to clean and clear out. The “memes” look to consist of pictures pulled from games, news apps and such.

I too transfer pictures from from my phone to my Windows 10 PC, but never see or copy over those “memes”. I am thinking this is because I manually drag my pictures out and don’t use a program to do it. The “Photos” program in Windows might be looking in more places (on your phone) besides the normal photos folder, scooping up these pictures your seeing.

suggestion 1: install the Files app and do a cleaning and see if that gets rid of these unwanted pictures.

suggestion 2: Don’t use software to transfer you images, drag off the phone photos manually.

Hope this helps!

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If it doesn’t show up in the Device Folders list then Photos is not seeing this folder…and therefore as you rightly noted they do not appear in your Photos backup.

How Microsoft finds then and automatically backs them is a mystery… if I were to venture a guess… I would say maybe Microsoft added those games/apps to its own store and so knows where to look for that data. Therefore the suggestion to look in DCIM and only sync those photos seems best option.

Plugged in and copied pics from the DCIM Camera folder. No graphics! Perfect!

I used to do this with earlier devices and I guess Windows started taking it over at some point. Originally it was nice to have the automation, but . . . now it’s not!

Thanks again!

I’m DEFINITELY going to try using Google Files, per your suggestion. Funny that Googe Photos has some cleanup functions, but the “memes” aren’t included. (This just led to a bunch of thoughts rambling in my head).

i just successfully did a copy/cut & paste from the phone’s DCIM Camera folder in Windows File Manager and it worked perfectly. No graphics.

I’m really interested if Google Files can identify the folder where all those “extras” are being stored to see if I can tweak the settings a little.

Thanks so much for your helpful tip! Can’t wait to try it out.


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