This tutorial will guide through a “no-nonsense”, “nuts-n-bolts” way of downloading your images from your digital camera to your computer. This tutorial is intended for beginners in both Digital Photography and IT/ Computer Skills. Firstly I need to explain why I think this is the best method; when you purchased your digital camera, the manufacturer kindly included software for you to install on your computer to help you download, edit and share (post your images online) your photographs. This software is a great tool if you’re intending to invest a large amount of time becoming familiar with its interface and esoteric menus. You’ll also be able to archive and sort your images in to coherent folders, enabling you to print your images easily at any time. This software can also remove “red-eye”, change an image to black and white and much more.
However there are some disadvantages to using this kind of software when you’re just starting out; the software you install can open/start-up automatically every time you plug your camera in to the computer, this can get annoying if all you want to do is download your images from the Memory Card. Also there is a high likelihood your software isn’t installed on a friend’s computer or laptop and you’re unable to show off your photography skills on their hardware, or summarily download your images to say, a library computer. Downloading your images this way may also be time consuming and confusing with its unfamiliar menus and buttons.
The method I am going to show you is, universal for both PC Computers and Apple Mac Systems, you do not need any software, you will not get stuck with annoying “Restriction Messages” and you can perform this method on any computer operating system (such as, XP, Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS and so on…). Just imagine the advantage of emailing your images to a friend, whilst on holiday, from the hotels reception computer… trust me, you can do this anywhere in the world.
This process is called “Downloading” but really it’s just a method of copying the picture file(s) from your cameras Memory Card to your Computer. First you will need to invest in a simple “Multi Card Reader” they range in price from under £5.00 to over £30.00 but basically they all do the same thing, you can pick one up from most electrical departments in your local hardware store and supermarket. And it’s a nice addition to your camera kit, as it’s small enough to fit snugly in your camera bag. Ok lets get started.
Take out the Memory Card from your digital camera, this can be found in the battery compartment or under its own rubber tab in the side of the camera. Now slot it in the Card Reader, it can only go in one way (square peg in a round hole) and one slot, specific for that type of card.
Now plug the Card Reader in to the USB port (Universal Serial Bus) on your Computer, the USB port carries a small charge, so your Card Readers light will start to flash, indicating it is connected properly.
Now we’re going to open up the Memory Card via the Card Reader. Go to your “Start” menu (bottom left corner) and open “My Computer” from this menu.
On a Mac
Typically with an Apple Mac all you need to do is plug a device in using the USB connection and it will reveal itself on the “Desktop” as an icon. Restrain yourself from double clicking on this right now and open a “Finder” window instead (clicking on the Macintosh face, far left of the dock).
Note; in order for this tutorial to work properly have your Finder window set to “Column View”.
Inside “My Computer” you’ll see a new icon under “Devices with Removable Storage”, this icon can be called “Removable Disk (D:)” or “Card Reader” you may find the “(D:)” in “Removable Disk (D:)” might be another letter such as E, F or G, these letters indicate which USB port being used by your Card Reader. Open this device.
On a Mac
Within your Finder window you’ll see the Card Reader (its likely to be called Removable Disk, Card Reader or something similar) in the left hand menu pane under “Devices”, click once on this.
On Windows and a Mac
You’ll now see a folder called “DCIM” (Digital Camera IMages), open this, and most likely, you’ll have another folder inside titled with the camera Manufactures name, open this now.
You’ll now see all of your digital photographs, listed by ascending or descending numbers and ending with “.jpg”. What we are looking at now are the photographs in the Memory Card through the Card Reader on your computer, cool eh! You can double click on any of these image files to see them fill size on your screen. Once you’ve admired your photographic skills, “Minimise” this window, we’ll need it again later.
On your Desktop, “Right Click” with your mouse in a blank area of the screen, this method brings up a “Command Menu” with a list of commands you can give to your computer. Using the mouse (pointer) hover over “New” and you’ll see another list of commands appear, at the top of this list you’ll see “Folder” click once on “Folder” (we have just created a new folder, right click > new > folder… easy!).
On a Mac
On the desktop hold down the “Control” key (Ctrl) then click anywhere in an empty space, this method reveals a “Command Menu” with a list of commands you can give to your computer, click “New Folder”.
You’ll now see a folder icon on your desktop with the words “New Folder” highlighted in blue, and the “type curser” flashing at the end, this means its ready for you to give the folder a name, call it (type) “My Photos” then press “Return”.
Now open this folder by double clicking on the folder icon, or hovering the pointer over the icon, right clicking and then left clicking on the word “Open”. Up pops a window with the title, “My Photos” this is the inside of your “My Photos” folder, its empty, obviously, now we’re going to put another folder inside this one (same method as Step 6.), and name it “October” (or the current month) then press Return.
On a Mac
You’ll now see a folder icon on your Desktop with the name “untitled folder” these words are highlighted ready for you to give this folder a specific name, call it (type) “My Photos” then press “Return”.
Now open this folder by double clicking on the folder icon, or hovering the pointer over the icon, holding down the “Control” key (Ctrl) then clicking on the word “Open”. Up pops a Finder window with the title, “My Photos” this is the inside of your “My Photos” folder, its empty, obviously, now we’re going to put another folder inside this one (same method as Step 6.), and name it “October” (or the current month) then press Return.
Again open this folder by double clicking on the folder icon, or hovering the pointer over the icon, right clicking and then left clicking on the word “Open”. Notice the windows title has changed to “October” (or the month you named it) and the folder is empty, however not for long, because this is where you are going put your images.
Firstly you need to position this window, in the top left corner of your screen, you can make the window a little smaller by rolling over the edge of it with your mouse (notice the curser changes from an arrow to a bar with a small arrow at both ends.) left click and hold the button down and move your mouse to the left to make the window narrower, just so its covering half of the screen.
On a Mac
Your folder is already selected (nice one Apple), the empty column to the right is where you are going to put your images. Firstly you need to position in the top left corner of your screen. Make the window a little smaller so it covers only half of your Desktop, you can do this by grabbing (clicking and holding down) the “Resize” tab (bottom right corner) and scaling the size of the window.
On Windows and a Mac
Now reveal your Card Reader window that you minimised earlier and position it in the top right corner of your screen. With both windows open on the screen, we are going to “Drag and Drop” your images from the Card Reader window in to your “October” folder window.
Here you can drag and drop one Photo File at a time, but that will take a very long time if you have lots of images, so you can select all the images to drag and drop in one go, via two ways. The first and easiest way is to click “Edit” in the top menu and click “Select all” from the drop down menu. Or left click (single click on the Mac) on the first image file so it is selected, scroll the window up to the last image file, hold “Shift” and left click (single click on the Mac) the last image file in the list.
With all your images selected, drag (left click and hold, any selected image in the group) your group of images over and drop (release the left click) them in your open “October” folder” window.
On Windows and a Mac
Copying will now take place; this may take a few seconds depending on how many Photo Files you have. You should now see the same Photo Files in your open “October” folder window and your Card Reader window, so what has just happened? Well, you have copied the files from your Memory Card in to your “October” folder, which is inside your “My Pictures” folder, which is safely stored on your desktop, inside your computer.
Lastly close both windows on your screen, disconnect your Card Reader from the USB port (on the Mac Drag the Card Reader icon to the trash to eject it), now there are no images being fed in to your computer. Reopen your “My Photos” folder and open your “October” folder, and there are all your Digital Photos, safe and sound. You can now put the Memory Card back in your camera and format (delete all the photos), to make room for another months worth of Photography.
Every time you come to download your Digital Photos, create a new folder inside your “My Photos” folder and give it a specific name. This method is a great way to organise your photographs as you go, so when it comes to printing or showing off your talents, you’ll not be sifting through countless image files, trying to find that one particular shot.
Also note, that when you become used to moving files and folders around your computer, it is better to keep your “My Photos” folder inside your Hard Drive (moving it to your “My Images” folder), however until then keeping it on the desktop is absolutely fine.