Downloading Photos to Your Computer. Use Windows Explorer.

by on May.21, 2009, under Digital Camera Basics, Helpful Stuff


I am a little behind in postings. The last couple of weeks have been a bit hectic with other things and it is finally spring in Minnesota and if you lived here you would understand. Last weekend a few of us guys went to Spearfish Canyon in the Black Hills of South Dakota to “open” Bill’s cabin. I will talk about the trip and show some of the photos I took in a future post. But, first I want to touch on the process of downloading (or uploading, if you prefer) picture files from your digital camera or memory chip to your computer. This discussion is prompted by Bill’s question, “I forgot how to download pictures to my computer, can you help me?” Since he hadn’t transfered pictures from his camera to the computer for quite some time (his chip was full) he had photos from a number of events. Before detailing the process I want to point out that Bill is not alone in his lack of understanding of  “digital picture/computer” processes, nor is he a dummy. In fact, he is quite intelligent and is a tax accountant by profession. So, take heart if you have similar questions and frustrations.

Here is the process I recommend and the one we used with Bill’s photos.

Use Windows Explorer.   When we plugged his camera into the computer the software that came with his camera insisted on taking control of the process.  The first suggestion I made was to close the application (and recommended he delete it from his computer) and use the Windows Explorer system to manage the process.

Windows Vista Options for Downloading Photos

Windows Vista Options for Downloading Photos

When downloading photos to my computer I use a card reader instead of the camera/USB connection and when I insert the reader the above Vista window pops up with options. Chose the Open Folder to View Files option (XP has a similar window). Or, you can simply go to My Computer and click on the camera or card reader and select the photos to download (Copy). Then open the Pictures (My Pictures) folder and create or select the the destination folder and Paste the photos into the selected folder. Note: If you use Vista you could select the Import Pictures option, however, I prefer using the Explorer function, particularly if you need to sort the photos into multiple folders.

Use Windows Explorer to Copy/Paste Photos from Camera to Computer

Use Windows Explorer to Copy/Paste Photos from Camera to Computer

Using Windows Explorer to organize and manage your pictures is really quite simple and is my preference.  Applications, such as Photoshop Elements and the software supplied with your camera have a tendancy to do just that. If you use Elements set the preferences so that it does not automatically open when you insert your camera cable or card reader into you computer. If you loaded the camera manufacturer supplied software I suggest you delete it. You don’t need it to download pictures and the photo editing functions are generally too complicated and ineffective to be useful. Admittedly, this is a personal bias, however, most folks I talk to express the same frustration.

I usually download photos to my computer after an event rather than waiting until my memory card is full. It is easier and quicker to organize a single event than an full chip of multiple events. And, the risk of losing the photos (lost camera) or accidently erasing photos is reduced.


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