With the move to Windows Phone 8, Microsoft’s smart phone platform has picked up a number of incredibly useful features that were missing in Windows Phone 7.x Case in point: USB media transfer support. This means that, yes, you can finally import photos from the phone to your PC using tools like Windows Photo Gallery.

In previous Windows Phone versions, you had to use the terrible Zune PC software for this purpose. And in Windows Phone 8, that tradition continues, lamentably, in the new Windows Phone apps. All of these solutions important pictures from the handset automatically, but they do so using a non-standard folder structure in the Pictures gallery (e.g. “From Paul's HTC 8X”). And they don’t support any naming of photos, so instead of “San Francisco 01.jpg” or whatever you get filenames like “WP_20121029_001.jpg.”

With Windows Phone 8, however, there’s a better way. And it’s functionality we’ve used in Windows for years with devices like digital cameras, memory cards, and other smart phones and digital devices with cameras such as the iPhone: You can just use any photo importing tool in Windows. That means the built-in photo importer, third party photo applications like Adobe Photoshop Elements, and, yes, my favorite photo application, Windows Photo Gallery.

The advantage of using a dedicated photo importer is that you can name the photos as they’re imported, and create folders that correspond to the events captured by the device’s camera.

To do this, connect a Windows Phone 8 handset to Windows and run Windows Photo Gallery. (Make sure that Photo Gallery is set up correctly to name both the photos and their containing folders. In my own scheme for this, I have Photo Gallery name the photos with the name of the event—like Name 01.jpg—and the folder with the date and event name so they’re sorted in order; like 2012-10-31 Name.)

Then, click Import in the Photo Gallery ribbon. In the Import Photos and Videos window, you’ll see the Windows Phone 8 handset listed.

wpg-import_1

Select the phone and click Import. Then, after choosing to review, organize, and group items to import, you’re given the opportunity to do just that, providing names for each event and thus names for the imported photos and the folders that will contain them.

wpg-import2_1

I don’t know what took Microsoft so long on this one. But I’m happy the capability is finally there. This is a much better way to import photos than using the automated tools in Zune or the Windows Phone app/application.