On Windows 10, you can quickly transfer virtually any file format and folders from a USB flash drive (thumb drive) to your computer, and you can export files to removable storage devices to share them with other people or create a copy for backup purposes.

In this Windows 10 guide, we walk you through the easy steps to transfer files to and from a USB flash drive to your computer.

How to import files from USB flash drive to Windows 10

To copy files from a USB flash drive to your computer running Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Click on This PC from the left pane.
  3. Connect the removable drive to your PC's USB port.

    Quick tip: If you get a toast notification, click it and select the Open folder to view files option.

  4. Under the "Devices and drives" section, double-click the USB flash drive to see its data.

  5. Select the files and folders.
  6. Click the Copy to button from the "Home" tab.
  7. Click the Choose location option.

  8. Select the folder to import files from a flash drive to your PC.
  9. Click the Copy button.

Once you complete these steps, the files will copy from the removable drive to the computer.

When importing and exporting files, it's usually safer to perform a "copy" instead of a "move" action to prevent losing the files if there's a problem during the transfer. However, once you verified that the files had been copied successfully, you can select and delete all the contents from the USB flash drive.

If you have a microSD card with files, and you don't have an SD card reader slot on your computer, you can purchase a card reader to convert the microSD card into a USB storage.

Easy transfer

Anker 2-in-1 USB card reader

This card reader from Anker includes a USB 3.0 interface, but it's backward compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1. It works with UHS-I SD and microSD cards, and it can simultaneously read and write from both slots.

This reader currently has a 4.4-star rating on Amazon with more than 3,300 reviews, and the Anker 2-in-1 USB 3.0 Portable Card Reader should be at the top of your list if you're looking for a compact adapter when your computer lacks such an interface.

Importing pictures to Photos app

If you have a flash drive with a bunch of pictures, you can quickly copy them to your computer using the import option available in the Photos app.

To import pictures using the Photos app, use these steps:

  1. Open Photos.
  2. Connect the removable drive to your PC's USB port.
  3. Click the Import button from the top-right.
  4. Select the From a USB device option.

  5. (Optional) Click the Unselect all option to select only the images that you want to import.

    Quick tip: You can also click the Import settings button to change the import destination folder, grouping, and to decide whether items in the flash drive should be deleted after they're moved to the device.

  6. Click the Import selected button.

After you complete the steps, the pictures in the removable media will be imported to the Pictures folders inside the OneDrive folder.

How to export files to USB flash drive from Windows 10

To export files from your computer to a USB flash drive, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Click on This PC from the left pane.
  3. Connect the removable drive to your PC's USB port.
  4. Under the "Devices and drives" section, open the drive with the files that you want to copy.
  5. Select the files and folders.

    Quick tip: You can use the Ctrl + A keyboard shortcut to select all the files. Or press and hold the Ctrl key and click with the mouse the files that you want to select.

  6. Click the Copy to button from the "Home" tab.
  7. Click the Choose location option.

  8. Select the folder to export files from your PC to a flash drive.
  9. Click the Copy button.

Once you complete the steps, the files that you selected from your computer will transfer to a USB thumb drive. (If you no longer need the transferred files, you can always delete them from your computer.)

If you don't have enough space to export your files, you can always purchase another removable drive, such as the SanDisk Extreme Go (CZ800), which comes with 128GB of space to store large files and small backups.

Storage upgrade

SanDisk Extreme Go

If you're looking for a flash drive with a lot of storage and fast transfer speeds, the Extreme Go (CZ800) by SanDisk is a solid option. The tiny drive offers 128GB of storage with transfers speeds up to 200MB/s, it's backed by the strong brand, and it even includes some nifty features like password protection, recovery, and encryption. The CZ800 is also affordable, costing around $32 for 128GB capacity.

This guide is focused on beginners, and as such, we're showing one of the simplest methods to transfer files from a removable drive to a computer, but it's worth noting that there are countless other ways that you can use to transfer files from one storage device to another.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

Mauro recommends all these affordable accessories

Hi, I'm Mauro Huculak, Windows Central's help and how-to guru. I wrote the post you're reading now, and I know the Windows OS inside and out. But I'm also a bit of a hardware geek. These are some of the affordable gadgets on my desk today.

Logitech MX Master Wireless Mouse ($72 at Amazon)

I know mice, and this is the one I use every day. The MX Master is a wireless high-precision mouse that's very comfortable to use and has many great features, including the ability to connect with multiple devices, an infinite scroll wheel, back and forward buttons, all of which you can customize.

Ktrio Extended Gaming Mouse Pad ($12 at Amazon)

If you spend a lot of time typing, your palms and mouse will leave tracks on your desk. My solution was to start using gaming mouse pads, which are big enough for you to use the keyboard and the mouse comfortably. This is the one I use and recommend.

Supernight LED light strip ($20 at Amazon)

You could just use a regular light bulb in your office, but if you want to add some ambient lighting with different colors, an RGB LED strip is the way to go. This one is Mauro-approved.

This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.

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