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Transferring Pictures from Camera to Computer

Updated on July 3, 2016
VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne is mother of five who loves a bargain. She extensively researches the products she reviews to help other families.


Why Transfer?

You've taken some great photos on your phone or digital camera and maybe you've printed some off or uploaded them to share sites. Do you really need to transfer them to your computer? Yes. Here's why:

  1. Protect photos. Unless they are backed up by cloud storage it is really easy to lose them if your camera, phone or memory card gets damaged. That means all those memories are lost forever.
  2. Do more. Another reason to transfer to a computer is that you can do more with the photos. You can make them into a photo book, slideshow or print them off.
  3. See photos better. A third reason that computers are a good place to put your photos is that you can see them more clearly and look at them better with another person, or even a group if you connect your computer to your T.V. Ever try to look at a video or slide show on your phone with someone else? You can see it, but not as easily as on a bigger screen!
  4. Free up memory. Finally, when you take the pictures off your phone, tablet or camera memory card, you free up a lot of space to take more pictures and videos. If you transfer regularly, you may not even need to get that bigger device you've been thinking about. Besides, getting those photos to your computer is dead easy once you've got the hang of it.

Transfering Basics

To transfer, you will need to connect your camera to the computer (or connect the memory card to the computer) and then use software on the computer to open up the files on the camera to see the pictures on your desktop and then download them.


Step One: connect to computer by either using:

  • Cord: Most cameras come with a cord which connects the camera to the computer for uploading pictures. Your phone can use a cable that has a USB at the end.
  • Card Reader: My favorite way to transfer pictures and video to my computer is by using a card reader. Some of my computers have an SD slot right inside the computer, but you can also get a card reader which plugs into your USB port. Mine has slots of different sizes to accommodate different types of cards.

.Step Two: transferring photos to computer by using:

  • Using Software: Most cameras come with a software program that lets you do the transfer. You will need to install the software using the CD that came with the camera, or else find the software on the camera company website. After you install the software, you will launch it and follow the directions. You can also use photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop Elements to download and organize photos.
  • Using Windows Folders and Files (see video and instructions below)

Card reader attached to computer
Card reader attached to computer | Source

Using Windows

Personally, I prefer to just use the Windows folders to download, organize and view my photos. As a digital scrapbooker, I take so many thousands of photos, I don't have time to tag them all. Instead, I've come up with my own simple folder system which I use for every year. I felt vindicated when I read at ScapGirls that Ro, the inventor of that site, does the same thing with her photos. Using Windows is quick and easy. It just takes a couple of clicks to upload my photos and videos onto my computer and if I don't have time to organize them, I can stick them in an "Organize later" file. Watch the video, or follow these instructions:

  1. Put the card in the card reader.
  2. You might get a pop-up from your anti-virus program asking if you want to scan the disk. You can do that if you want.
  3. Go to your Start menus and click "Computer"
  4. You should see your card there under "Devises with Removable Storage"
  5. Click on the Icon and a window should pop up with all your pictures and videos.
  6. To see these better, you may need to go to "View" and click on "larger images"
  7. Although you can view these pictures now on your computer, they are still stored on the memory disk and not on your computer hard drive. So, if you want to move these to your computer in order to save, print, upload or share them, you will need to click on the files you want to save and move them onto the desktop or a file on your computer.
  8. To move all the files, you can click on the whole folder and move it, or you can only move individual files.
  9. When you move the files to your computer, you are copying them there. They still are on the memory disk too. If you want to erase the disk, you will need to do that either by erasing it using your computer or by putting the memory disk back into the camera and erasing them there.
  10. Once the files are on your computer, you can move, organize, upload, share or print them

Finding your Memory Card

Digital Card: find your card near the battery in most cameras.  Push it down so it is released to pop out.
Digital Card: find your card near the battery in most cameras. Push it down so it is released to pop out. | Source

Move Pictures from Phone to Computer

Does your phone or iPod memory get full too fast? Free up memory by putting your pictures on your computer. Basically, the transfer works the same as is does for a camera. You can attach your phone, iPhone, iPod or another device with a USB cord and download by opening up the files (which will probably pop up when you attach your device to the computer). If not, go over to "computer" and look for the device to open.

Another way to transfer is to find the memory card, which is probably a mini-version of a card called a micro SD. Check the sides of the phone for a memory card slot (or look in your manual for help). If you do have a micro SD slot but haven't got a card in your phone, then your pictures are being stored in the internal memory and you will need to attach the phone to your computer by a cord.

Micro SD with SD adapter


Using Micro SD Card

  1. Take out the micro SD card. Be careful not to touch the metal parts.
  2. Insert the micro SD card into an SD adapter (which generally comes with the card) This makes it the right size for most card readers, plus it makes it easier to handle.
  3. Insert the SD adapter into the card slot on the reader or your computer.
  4. Follow the video instructions for transferring your videos and pictures onto your computer

Using Email, Social Media or Photo Sharing Websites

If you don't have a memory card in your phone, or your phone doesn't have a memory card, then you will need to upload your pictures or email them in order to get them on your computer. This takes several steps and is kind of time consuming, but may be worth it if you want to print out or share a special photo. Two ways to move your pictures from phone to computer using email and Social Media:

  1. Email: Email a picture to yourself, then open up the attachment on your computer and download it.
  2. Social Media: Upload a picture on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or other Social Media site. Then you can access the photo while on your computer and download.
  3. Shutterfly, Flicker, Pixaby and many other commercial websites allow you to upload your pictures and store them there for free. Shutterfly allows you to create a free share site so that a group of people can upload photos and share them also. In addition, you can download pictures from Shutterfly to another device like a tablet or computer. You can also create photo albums and other personalized photo gifts. I've used several share sites but now stick to Shutterfly because they have a lot of free offers and allow unlimited storage.


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    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      5 years ago from United States

      Sarah--my phone has a microSD and understanding how this works has helped me to transfer pictures a lot easier to my computer. I've also found that ipods and ipads you can connect to a computer with the USB charging cord and transfer that way.

    • profile image

      Sarah Ferguson ENG1302-29 

      5 years ago

      I am really into photography, and so this article just popped out to me the most! I already knew how to transfer pictures from the camera to the laptop, but I have never really heard much about micro SD. I have never really used cards with micro SD so now I want to try something new with those! Thank you for the insight :)

    • snerfu profile image

      Vivian Sudhir 

      6 years ago from Madurai, India

      So informative and detailed, nice article.

    • AOkay12 profile image


      6 years ago from Florida

      I have not been successful at transferring photos wirelessly (via Bluetooth, for example). So, I stick to using chords and storage media.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      6 years ago from Wales

      Interesting, easy to follow and useful.

      Voted up.


    • CraftytotheCore profile image


      7 years ago

      This is good information because I'm not a techy person at all. I have a digital camera. And I have a cord. That's about all I know. LOL

      Whenever I used to transfer the pictures from my camera to the computer, this little screen would automatically come up and tell me that I had pictures to upload. But that went away one day. I tried changing my settings and nothing worked. So now I go to computer, then right click on the camera, and tell it to import. It's just extra steps. I have no idea why the easier way went away though.

      Anyway, great information. Good Hub!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      Excellent and informative, VirginiaLynne. It has been my pleasure to meet you. Faith sent me!

    • agaglia profile image

      Annette Gagliardi 

      7 years ago from Minneapolis

      nice hub. Interesting and informative.

    • Josh Conatser profile image

      Josh Conatser 

      7 years ago

      I am an avid photographer, and can definitely vouch for the reliability and efficiency of these methods - thanks for the work you put into these articles!

    • prasadjain profile image


      7 years ago from Tumkur

      Technics explained here are correct and simple. I too often transfer photos from my mobile and digital camera to computer, using the same Technic.

    • lisasuniquevoice profile image

      Lisa Brown 

      8 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you for going over this. The video was a great way to do it.



    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      This is good advice in an area that my skills are not great. Thank you for this well written hub of instructions for the videos. Voted up+++


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