Syncing multiple photo directories from phone into one destination directory

The goal is to copy photos from an android phone to a computer.

On the phone, the gallery application displays all photos in one view that are automatically sourced from multiple picture-storing directories such as DCIM, Screenshots, Pictures, Camera, etc.

  • Is it possible/advisable to have a bunch of source directories mapped to a single target directory on the computer? Or do I have to manually set up every directory as an individual sync?

  • Secondly, what kind of sync setup is recommended? “Send only” on the phone, and “receive only” on the computer? Combined with a trash can with no cleanup interval, this could allow deleting photos from the phone to save space while making sure they are maintained on the computer, albeit in a trashcan. Is there a better way? Or just use regular two-way sync?

These must be pretty common use-case questions, so I wonder what the best practices are.

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I don’t think this is that common but it has come up on the forum a few times in the past. Basically, the answer to both questions is “yes”, i.e. you do need to set them up as separate folders on the phone and you can merge them into a single path on the computer as long as the former are all set to “Send Only” and the latter to “Receive Only”, however please keep in mind that you will see warning messages about the folders being out of sync on both sides. As long as you don’t revert any changes manually, Syncthing won’t do it on its own.

On the other hand, if you want to use “regular two-way sync”, then you would need to have each folder set to a different path without merging them. This applies to both sides.

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Good to know the “Send only” and “receive only” setup would work, though warnings about being out of sync might annoy me a bit.

Is there a recommended way to handle photos on phones being synced to a computer or NAS? Surely this is not an uncommon use case, as an alternative to relying on cloud services like google photos.

Syncing photos is very common, it’s not common to merge the folders though. I personally just keep “Camera” and “Screenshots” separated, on all sides.

From my experience, what you need to sync from Android is actually DCIM/Camera and Pictures/Screenshots. Sometimes the paths may differ, e.g. I’ve seen DCIM/Screenshots on Samsung phones, but it’s usually just two folders in total.

Regarding handling the files and cleaning up to release limited phone storage. Here’s what I do:

The camera folder is synced to a folder on the PC, send-receive on both sides. Then I regularly go through the folder on the PC and move out old pictures to some other, non-synced folder. That automatically removes them from the phone, and is much more comfortable than going through them on the phone, IMHO.


You’re right, though I also have a couple other folders due to other apps and devices (borescope) that take photos and make their own folders.

Nice! Less cumbersome than one way shares out of sync, and simpler than the trash can approach. And yes, it is much more convenient sorting photos on the computer than on the phone.

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