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How to download pictures from a camera to a computer & email

Updated July 20, 2017

You have a digital camera full of photos taken over the past few days (or months), and now you want to transfer them to your computer. The moderately easy task of transferring the photos will allow you to print, e-mail or store photos and make room for more on your camera's memory card. Once you have stored the photos on your computer, share them with your friends and family by attaching them to e-mail messages.

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  1. Turn your computer on, and let it boot completely. Check to be sure your camera has enough battery life left, but keep the camera turned off for now. Make sure your camera holds the removable memory card with the pictures you want to transfer.

  2. Some cameras have built-in memory. If your camera stores photos in this way, you may not need the removable memory card.

  3. Connect the smaller end of the USB cable to your camera and the other end to your computer USB port. Most cameras come with a USB cable. If yours didn't, you can purchase one in a store that sells computer accessories. When buying a USB cable, take your camera with you to ensure you buy the proper type.

  4. Turn on the camera once you've connected the USB cable. When you turn the camera on, an icon may pop up in the lower right-hand corner of the screen--if you have a newer computer--to tell you the device is ready. Some cameras and computers may prompt a menu to pop up, asking you what you want to do with this device, such as transferring the photos to your computer or doing nothing at all. For this tutorial, ignore the box by closing it or choosing "do nothing at this time."

  5. Go to "My Computer" and double-click on the drive for your camera and/or memory card. When you double-click, a new folder will open with one or more subfolders. Search through these folders until you find your images.

  6. The way the camera appears on the list of drives depends on the type of camera and memory card you use. If you don't see the camera listed, see the troubleshooting section of your camera-maker's website.

  7. Highlight the image subfolder and right-click on the folder. Choose "Copy" from the menu that pops up. This will leave a copy of the photos on your camera. If you want to remove the photos permanently from your camera, choose "Cut" from the menu instead of "Copy."

  8. Find the place on your computer where you want to store your photos. A good spot is under the "My Pictures" or "My Documents" folder. Open your folder of choice, right-click in the white space and choose "Paste" from the pop-up menu. If there are a lot of photos being transferred, this step could take a few minutes. Allow your computer to finish the transfer before moving on. After the transfer completes, your photos are stored in this folder until you move or delete them.

  9. Turn off your camera, and disconnect the USB cord from the camera and the computer.

  10. Log in to your e-mail account.

  11. Create a new e-mail message and fill out the recipient, subject line and message fields.

  12. Attach the photos you want to share. Depending on the email provider, there will either be a link to "Add Attachments" or a paper clip. Click on this link and an attachment box will pop up on your screen, asking you to select the file(s) you want to attach.

  13. Locate the folder in which you saved your photos on your computer. Depending on your e-mail provider, you can either double-click on a photo, or highlight the photo and click "Open" or "Attach. Repeat this step until you have attached all the photos you want to share.

  14. Click on send and your e-mail will begin the process of sending out the message, with all of the photos attached. This may take a few minutes depending on the size of your attachments. Keep your e-mail window open until the message disappears, which means you've sent it successfully.

  15. Tip

    Read all the information that came with your camera before plugging the camera into a computer. If you use a memory-card reader to transfer your pictures, locate the reader (instead of the camera) in the list of drives, and follow the steps in the "Transfer Pictures" section. If your computer has a built-in memory-card reader, you will not need the USB cable. Insert the memory card into the reader once your computer is powered on and follow the steps in the "Transfer Pictures" section. Locate the memory card on the list of drives (instead of the camera). Some e-mail providers limit the amount of attachments and/or the size of attachments in e-mail messages. If you are having trouble with sending your e-mail with the photos attached, check the troubleshooting section on your e-mail providers home page. You may need to send one photo at a time.

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Things You'll Need

  • Digital camera
  • USB cable
  • Computer (PC)

About the Author

Shannon McInerney is a professional designer with more than 10 years of experience in the architecture and design world. After attaining her bachelor's degree in architecture from the NYIT School of Architecture & Design, she worked with various New York design firms, contract furniture dealers, and private clients before relocating to Washington, D.C.

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