How To Get Pictures Off Your Camera And Into Your Computer (For Beginners)

One of the universal activities people use computers for is viewing and sharing digital photos. New computer users, however, don’t readily know how to transfer photos from their digital cameras to their PCs. Here’s a step-by-step guide you can pass along to help them.

To help you out in your tech support role, we’re offering easy-to-email guides to teach beginners the basics of using a computer. You can find all of the guides here. Today we’re covering a couple of ways to get the photos off of a camera and into a computer so they can be viewed, printed, edited, and shared. These instructions are pretty much the same for both Windows and Mac.

Option A: Directly Connect the Camera to the Computer

Step 1. The most direct way to transfer the photos over is to connect your camera to your computer using the cable that came with your camera. Most cameras have a little door on the side covering the USB port on the camera; insert one end of the cable there, then connect the other end to one of your computer’s USB ports. Then turn on your camera.

Step 2. Your computer will mount the camera as a new drive. On Windows, open up Windows Explorer and look for the new drive letter (D, E or F, most likely). On Mac, look under Devices to find the mounted camera.

Expand that new drive until you see the DCIM (Digital Camera Images) folder and its subfolders. That’s where all your pictures are.

Step 3: Select the photos you want to transfer. Now you can select all the photos in the DCIM subfolders — either hit CTRL and A (or CMD A on Mac) to select all or hold down the CTRL key (CMD on Mac) while clicking on some photos to select certain ones.

Step 4: Create the folder on your computer where you want to copy your photos. Open up a new Explorer window and go to the location where you want to store your photos, e.g. the built-in Pictures (or My Pictures) folder. For easy retrieval in the future, create a subfolder under that Pictures folder with a date (e.g. 2011-05) or other easy to understand name (e.g. My 30th Birthday Party).

Step 5: Copy or move the photos to the computer. As instructed in our copy, cut and paste tutorial, you can hit CTRL X to remove the photos from your camera and then CTRL V to paste them into that new folder you created above. Or hit CTRL C to copy the photos (leaving them on your camera’s memory card) and CTRL V to paste. (On Macs, instead of using CTRL, use the CMD key instead with these keyboard combinations.)

Now your photos are on your computer!

Option B: Insert the Camera’s Memory Card into the Computer

Another option for accessing your camera’s pictures on your computer is to put the camera’s memory card into the card reader slot of your computer. Newer computers have built-in multi-format card readers that work with several types of camera memory cards. (You could also use an external card reader if you have that available.) Reading directly from the card may be faster than transferring over USB and it doesn’t require you to have your camera on, using up battery life.

Step 1: Take the card out of the camera and insert it into the card reader slot.

Steps 2 to 5: follow the instructions above. The process for transferring the photos is the same as Steps 2 to 5 above. Your computer will mount the card with your photos on it as a new drive, so look for that DCIM folder.

Just remember to take out the card again when you’re done and put it back in your camera!

Option C: Use a Photo App to Import and Organise Your Photos

Last, but not least, we recommend you use Picasa (one of our favourite photo-editing tools) to import and manage your photos. You’ll need to download and install the free software from Google first, but it’s worth it.

Step 1: Connect the card/camera. Once you have Picasa installed, open up the program and either connect the camera directly to your computer via USB (Step 1 under Option A) or insert the memory card into your computer (Option B).

Step 2: Open the Import tab. Click on the Import button on Picasa’s main toolbar to open up an Import tab.[imgclear]

In the import tab, you’ll see a drop-down box with options for where to import the photos from. Select your camera or mounted drive in that drop-down box.

Step 3. Select photos to import (or skip if you want them all imported). Next, highlight the photos you wish to import. If you want to import them all, just leave the selection blank.

Step 4. Set options, then import. Check the options at the bottom for where to import the photos (My Pictures is the default); you can add a subfolder of your choice or Picasa can automatically create subfolders based on the dates the photos were taken. You’ll also have options for deleting the photos from the camera card after done importing and sharing the photos on Picasa web album.

Finally, click either the “Import Selected” or “Import All” button and Picasa will transfer the photos to your computer.

Picasa’s got some great photo editing and photo organising tools, so we’re sure you’ll be happily immersed in your digital photos for a while.

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