How to Transfer & Upload Photos

Once you have taken photos with your digital camera, you are ready to transfer them to your computer. There are a variety of ways to do this. Most involve plugging a cable of some sort into your computer and into your camera, or into a device that reads the removable memory from your digital camera.

Certain ways of transferring images to your computer have advantages over others. While all methods will transfer your images accurately to your computer, the transfer speeds may vary remarkably. The faster the digital image is transferred from your digital camera, the less time you have to spend waiting to view your images.

1. Set the digital camera up to transfer photos.

Turn the camera on, switching it to ‘Playback” mode (the same switch that lets you view photos on your camera’s LCD screen).

2. Understand the standards for transferring digital photos

The current standards used to allow the transfer of digital photos from digital cameras to computers include transferring photos with an external device like a PC Card Reader or Memory Card Reader or transferring directly from the digital camera through a cable.

3. Transfer the photos with a PC or Memory Card Reader

PC Card Reader. PC Card Readers are adapters that allow you to plug a memory card into them and then insert them into a PCMCIA slot in your laptop computer. The advantage of these card readers is that they don't require a cable, the transfer rate is high, and your memory card shows up on your desktop as a drive. So you can easily drag and transfer your image files from the memory card to your computer and vice versa. These can be purchased as accessories for a small cost.

Memory Card Reader. Memory Card Readers typically are just like cable devices, but allow you to continue to use your camera by not requiring you to plug it in to transfer images. Some memory card readers are serial cables, while others are USB cables. Regardless of the format, you simply plug your memory card into them and plug them into the appropriate slot in the back of your computer. Like PC Card Readers, you can then open your memory card like a drive and drag and save your images directly to your computer desktop. These are sometimes included with digital cameras or can be bought as accessories.

4. Transfer the photos by cable

Universal Serial Bus (USB). This is becoming the standard on new computers and is supported on both PCs and Macs. It has a fast transfer rate and is supported by many new cameras and scanners. It is very simple to use, usually requiring the installation of some software and then plugging in the device. It is superior to other cable formats because it is easy to set up and has a fast transfer rate.

Serial Cable. Serial Cables are an older transfer method. They plug into the serial port of your PC. Because transferring information for other operations requires less information than digital photos, this method is much slower than other methods. This is a good solution if you have an older computer and don't plan on replacing it soon.

Fire Wire. Fire Wire is a new format not yet supported on some computers. It may eventually be adopted widely by computer manufacturers. The advantage of Fire Wire is its very fast transfer rate. Insert the cable into the USB or Fire Wire port on your computer. Most Mac and Windows PCs will automatically recognize the digital camera as a device, and launch a photo-capturing software program.

5. Name your photos

When you are saving your images to your computer, you should always put them in a separate directory. For instance, you can call the directory “Business Images” or something more specific. When your camera saves a picture it will give it some arbitrary name, like NIK43566.JPG. This won’t mean much to you but the numbers go up, so you can tell in what order you shot the pictures. You can name your pictures anything you want, so you should change the file name right away to something useful like “ChanelPurseFront.jpg”. If you name your files well, you’ll be able to quickly find images on your computer.


  • Many people find it more convenient to use a PC or memory card reader. This allows for faster transfer times, and reduces the hassle of hooking up cables every time. They can also be purchased fairly cheaply.

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