Monday, September 13, 2010

Resolving Samsung Captivate Windows 7 (64 bit) connection problem

------ NOTE ------

See the updates at the end of this post. Although many people have reported in comments that this fix worked for them, it actually stopped working for me after a few days. Consequently I have actually returned my Captivate in favor of a different phone that actually works.

------ END NOTE ------

On Friday I purchased a new Samsung Captivate from Costco. Before I get into the USB connectivity issues, let me just say that this is a great phone. Great speaker, great microphone, great ambient-noise management, great processor speed, great camera, outstanding screen, tons of memory, the list goes on. However, I encountered some serious problems getting it to connect to my computer. It took two days to get the problems resolved. Amazingly, neither this problem nor the solution is documented online. So, here is what I learned. I don't make any recommendations that you should try this, or any guarantees whatsoever that any of this will work for you, or that it will not damage your phone, etc, etc. Try it at your own risk, you have been warned. However, I did eventually get it to work for me, and am now much happier with my phone. Here's what I did.

First, the computer is a newish, capable, reliable laptop running Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bit). It is a pretty new install of Windows, and there are no known hardware problems. When I complained to the guy at the AT&T store, he admitted that other customers have complained about the same problem. So I don't think that the problem was with my computer.

When I first attempted to connect my phone to my computer, Windows quickly reported that the driver install failed. I made several attempts, all of which failed. Next I tried on a Vista (32 bit) box. The driver install seemed to work OK, but it kept reinstalling over, and over, and over again. Like every 3 minutes, over and over again, times infinity. Weird.

So, after two days of research, and trial and error, and visiting 2 AT&T stores, here is what I learned.

Samsung Captivate (and I believe other Galaxy class phones) use a software package called Kies to manage your phone's connection to your computer. By default, when you connect the Captivate (and probably most Galaxy class phones) to a USB port on Windows, it is only willing to talk to Kies. If you don't have Kies on the computer, then the connection will fail.

The bad news is that Kies is not available in the U.S. (!?). I had to download it from Samsung's Singapore website. Worse, Kies is kind of lame. It looks nice, is user friendly, and is a good effort, but isn't very useful and just got kind of got in the way.

The good news is that installing Kies also installs the drivers. After installing Kies, Windows immediately recognized my phone. So that's good.

The better news is that it turns out you may not actually have to install Kies at all. You can change the default USB setting on the device (which I have done). If you go to settings > Applications > USB settings, you will see that the default USB behavior is set to "Samsung Kies". I changed mine to "Mass Storage". Now when I connect my Captivate to my computer, it doesn't try to talk to Kies. Instead, it just pretends to be an "External Mass Storage" device which Windows has no problem recognizing (think external hard drive, or thumb drive).

Next, when I connect my Captivate to the computer, Windows makes that happy little two-tone chime that means something has successfully connected. Then on the Captivate, I just have to tell it to mount on my computer. There is a little status bar along the top of the screen. If you touch that bar and drag it down, there are some useful toggle buttons and a section called "Ongoing". Under ongoing there is a "USB connected" entry. When I click "USB connected", it asks me if I want to mount my phone on Windows. If I click "Mount", then I can access my phone just like an external hard-drive. I can copy music or pictures directly onto or off of the phone. Easy-peasy.

So, at least now I have a way to get stuff onto and off of my phone, and I don't have to use Kies. This is good. Also, I reformatted the internal SD card (read somewhere online that this helps).

Again, I don't promise or guarantee or warranty or say that any of this will work for you. Just that it worked for me. Good luck!

Now I would just like to take a moment to talk directly to Samsung.

Samsung, listen, you are a big company. You are a respected brand. You make good products. You spend millions of dollars advertising them. But even though your phone is widely available for purchase across the U.S., it cannot connect to Windows 7 without your users going to extensive lengths to research and troubleshoot, and the software for your phone isn't even available in the U.S. This is a problem. It's not like this is a special advance order phone direct from Japan. This is a widely advertised, commercially available phone that consumers can buy at any AT&T store, Costco, Sam's Club, Best But, etc. Yet they cannot connect their phone to their computers, unless they download software from Singapore, or change unfamiliar settings.

Please fix this. Either release your software in the U.S., or include instructions in the packaging or on your website on how to change the USB settings. Better yet, on your phones sold in the U.S., just default them to "Mass Storage" mode, and include a quick-start paper on how to mount the phone as an external hard drive.

Ok, that's all for now. Will report if the situation changes.

------ UPDATE 10/3/2010 ------

Unfortunately, the fix described below stopped working for me a few days ago. That was the last straw. Although I liked the Samsung Captivate, I decided that I wasn't going to keep a phone that lacks basic driver support and can't even figure out how to connect to a computer. So, I returned my Captivate to Costco, and bought an iPhone instead.

------ UPDATE 10/4/2010 ------

On 10/2/2010 Anonymous commented: "I cannot believe this phone has been out for now over 3 months and no fix. Shame on Samsung; this is why people turn to macs and iPhones, lazy companies."

I agree. Putting the time, effort, and R&D money into building a fabulous phone, and then failing to deliver basic USB drivers (even just simple Mass Storage drivers) is absurd in the extreme. That's like spending months building a fabulous house, and then failing to include something simple like a door. Eventually no matter how great the house is, the owner will get tired of climbing into the house through a window, and just buy a house--any house--with a door.

------ END UPDATES ------


B3rt0 said...

I've been having the same issue with my Captivate Runnings Windows 7 64-bit, however my phone actually prompts me to choose how I want to connect to my computer. Samsung Kies, Mass Storage, Media Player, etc. However, even after choosing Mass Storage, it doesn't work. Driver Fail. I took your suggestion and downloaded the KIES software, same thing. I'm going to try using the Windows XP Virtual machine available for download.

Like you pointed out, it's such a great phone, I hope Samsung figures out this issue.

Chase said...

This was so helpful!!! Thanks!!

GrayEye said...

I have the captivate and win7 pro 64bit and I have tried installing kies, doesn't work. I have found "64bit drivers" off some random support form, doesn't work. I have used all the USB modes including mass storage, doesn't work. The only way I found to access my phone was either 1: installing SwiFTP off the market place and setting up my phone as a wireless FTP server. Or 2: I boot off an Ubuntu live CD and access my phone via USB (Mass storage mode) that way. Both are extremely annoying and the phone should just work in mass storage mode but it doesn't work under win7 64bit for me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your experience!!. Finally got to share and copy files.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant!! Spent 2+ hr with phone, computer and was getting no where. Even install Kies twice but kies was not able to connect too. Your solution was exactly what I was looking for... Thanks!

mweidman said...

Thank you so much for this information. I not sure how i got to your post but i'm glad i did. I Love the phone. I just got it yesterday 9/15/10. Have been looking up drivers.... downloading kies..... Kies is still importing music media from this morning.

How are we able to sale a phone with no US information. Crazy.

thank you mw

will said...

Thank You so very much! man, I was getting so frustrated in trying to get kies to work (just to sync and back up files). After many hours I figure it's a lost cause and was contemplating using a much longer and drawn out process of backup up data (using dropbox app on the phone).

Thank goodness you pointed out the 'mount' function on the phone when connect to usb! Life saver.

You're right... samsung needs to step up their software support if they really want to compete with the uber friendly iphone.

MK said...

Thank you so much. Saved me a lot of time and effort. I've been struggling with this for a couple days, just happened to be here and this solved my problem.
Nonetheless, an amazing phone.

KMS said...

Awesome write-up, thanks! This was exactly the problem I was having and it solved it immediately.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! I was so frustrated till i found your post. I love this phone and i'm glad I didn't have to dump it!

Anonymous said...

Use Windows7 ultimate, 64bit. And I followed Neil Moncur's excellent suggestions - STEP1: changed settings > Applications > USB settings to "Mass Storage". Then STEP2: "Mount"ed it as advised (you have to . Connected up the USB cord, opened up windows explorer and there were all the directors ready for dragging and dropping. Thank you!!! Amazing - how non US firms firms choke on software (OK I am biased).

Anonymous said...

Worked like a charm.
Samsung is, after all, a consumer product company, not a software company...

Anonymous said...

Guys I just goy my Captivate. In order to get the phone to connect via USB go to Settings, Applications, USB settings. Choose mass storage. and windows 7 will see your devise. By default samsung sets the setting to Samsung Kies which is not supported in the US yet! There you go : )

Anonymous said...

Oh I forgot one ore thing once you do those steps. go back to your home screen and pull down the drop down window. you will see USB choose USB and choose mount. now there you go..

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot that was very helpful

Anonymous said...

I was worried when i got MTP device not able to connect and failed. when I googled I found ur solution which was helpful, simple two step - change to mass storage option and mount worked perfectly!!! thanks dude. said...

I was about to take my phone back, since nether of the local AT&T companies were able to help me with this issue! It took some "finagling" (I didn't install Kies, but DID have to re-format the sd card, and at first it still wouldn't recognize it was even there, but then, everything seemed to "snap" into place, just like you said, and I'm now happily transferring files back and forth!!! EXCELLENT FIX!!!!!

testAcct said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonathan said...

Quick and to the point, out of all the support and forum posting online, this is the *most* helpful and *most* direct one I've been able to find. Thanks for keeping it simple!

*Note: I hope you'll be happy to know that if one types "samsung captivate how to connect to pc 64" into google, you come up as the second hit. (as of 09/26/2010). You're helping tons of people with this post and I personally appreciate your initiative to share this information with the online community.

Technical Bystander said...

Hey Niel,

I referenced your blog, hoping to group some more info and make a reference for other members of my family on how to set up the Captivate on a pc.

Thanks for the excellent post!!

brian said...

Ok so I called Samsung today to complain about the issues. They told me that the only way to connect to a pc right now is by mass storage and that sometime in the near future they will be sending out drivers for media player and samsung kies mode. Also they would not give me a date for the android 2.2 release but said it will be also in the near future. Love the phone but I don't care for the delay in releasing the updates that make the phone work as it was meant to.

Anonymous said...

Like a few have said, unfortunately this method still does not work. Every time I plug in my Captivate into my Win 7 Ultimate x64 machine, it comes up with one of two different driver installation errors. One is "unknown device" and the other is "failed to install drivers". I got it to work once, and only once, when I turned the phone off, plugged the usb cable in, and then stared the phone again. After that once, even this trick has not work since. I have installed every known usb driver out there, both Kies (mini, from Samsung USA site) and the stand alone drivers for XP/Vista (some said they work, but they do not).

I am totally out of options and it is a real shame that this is such a hassle, as storage devices should auto plug and play with normal windows drivers, no need for specific ones. Still installing the phone drivers should do the trick. Very, very, incredibly, frustrating. I cannot believe this phone has been out for now over 3 months and no fix. Shame on Samsung; this is why people turn to macs and iPhones, lazy companies.

John Hargrave said...

My Captivate was connecting via Windows, but then would crash every time I tried to copy files. Found this post via a Google search, and switching to USB mode fixed it. THANK YOU for helping me resolve the problem.

Paul said...

I just followed your directions and had no problem accessing the phone's memory as a mass storage device.

I did install the Captivate USB drivers first that I found on another site.

Justin said...

I wasted, literally, two days of my life trying to put mp3s on my phone. I reinstalled drivers, wiped disks, formatted cards, bought new cables, all in the name of putting mp3s on a damn phone.

I ended up throwing the Captivate in a trash can set up in a median at a red light.

Anonymous said...

Excellent write up, mass storage worked like a charm for me without the kies.

Although I have to say a disagree about the iphone. You have to install itunes which has the appropriate drivers before you can sync.

Anonymous said...

After searching for HOURS, I found your explanation on MOUNT ... I had everything else, but every documentation skips this. THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

Hi I guess I took a different approach...since I only recently realized that Kies existed.

I put my Android phone into USB Debugging. (settings/applications/development/usb debugging checked on).

Connect my phone to my Win7 64Bit Ultimate, and the drivers all got installed just fine.

To copy files back and forth I use SWIFTP on my Phone and FileZilla on my pc...worked great.

To Sync to Outlook (for contacts and calendars) I use MyPhoneExplorer app which is free.

To Tether I use PDANet App.

...only thing I guess I cannot do is upgrade my Android to 2.2 via Kies on my Win7 64bit. So for that I will just install on an XP system.
Hope this helps others...

Anonymous said...

Hi I guess I took a different approach...since I only recently realized that Kies existed.

I put my Android phone into USB Debugging. (settings/applications/development/usb debugging checked on).

Connect my phone to my Win7 64Bit Ultimate, and the drivers all got installed just fine.

To copy files back and forth I use SWIFTP on my Phone and FileZilla on my pc...worked great.

To Sync to Outlook (for contacts and calendars) I use MyPhoneExplorer app which is free.

To Tether I use PDANet App.

...only thing I guess I cannot do is upgrade my Android to 2.2 via Kies on my Win7 64bit. So for that I will just install on an XP system.
Hope this helps others...

Anonymous said...

The drop dow menu once you plug phone into pc is brilliant! Alot of us probably should have thought of that a long time ago, but thank! It is true you need to get some drivers loaded, and that happens nu just trying to load KIES or whatever it is.
And this works(provided you have drivers) MOST of the time...not all. I've noticed it worked alot better when you dismount removable drive(phone) on right corner icon before just pulling the plug.
But it still is not 100%. This is the only way to go if you want to load mass data onto phone though.
Triend android manager wirelessly, pretty neat, bu pathetically slow for pics and video

John said...

Can the method described here also allow for the install of FROYO? Or can that only be done via KIES - which does not connect?

*Brittany Leann* said...

hi. I have had the same problem as far as kies goes. However, I'm not looking to get music, pics, or vids to and from my phone(as of now) , I'm actually trying to do the update to the phone. Right now its running on the 2.1 and needs to be 2.2. I watched a youtube tutorial as to how to do it and it didn't work when I did what the guy said. Apparently he was using 32bit computer. I contacted a representative at Samsung (because AT&T directed me to...apparently they couldn't help fix the problem) and was told that Kies is not compatable with Windows 7 64bit.. only 32bit.. or xp.. So, now I'm basically stuck not being able to get the updates unless I can find someone with a compatible operating system?? WTH!! Someone please help. email me or something..

Neil said...

Brittany: Wow, I'm sorry to that Samsung hasn't resolved these problems yet. What a joke. I finally decided enough was enough, and took my Samsung back, and got an iPhone instead. I may not like my iPhone as much, and I dislike iTunes, but at least it works, and the phone can connect to the computer. I will not buy another Samsung phone until they resolve these problems. If it's too late to take your Samsung back, and now you can't update to 2.2, I would be furious.

Anonymous said...

For me it was a cable issue. One of my USB cables could charge my phone but was not recognized by Windows 7 64bit Professional. I tried a different USB cable and it was recognized right away and Windows 7 installed the drivers. Beware cheap, unsupported cables. :(

stvntylr said...

Cabling can be an issue. In my case the stock cable works, but not very well. My OEM cable works great. At any rate the USB drivers do work.
Since this IS an ATT phone though, I can't help but wonder if THEY have something to do with this - they haven't exactly embraced the idea of customers haveing control of their phones! Kies is pretty much for updates and gives you very little or no control of files etc.; just what ATT wants to let you have.

Anonymous said...

I have the same phone and PC setup, however I think I have a software issue with my phone. The phone itself won't turn on further than the AT&T loading screen when attempting to boot. At the same time, my PC doesn't recognize that the phone is plugged in to USB (likely because the phone won't fully boot). I can get the phone into either recovery or download mode, but nothing else. Any help is greatly appreciated.