Importing digital photographs with XP

In the past, getting the images from your digital camera to a PC was frequently a nightmare. Each camera model was different and required its own set of drivers. Plus, some cameras connected via a serial port, while others needed a USB connection — even though some operating systems such as Windows 95 struggled with USB.

Thankfully, problems are less common today. If your camera supports Picture Transfer Protocol (this includes most new models) and you have Windows XP Home or Pro, the transfer process should be a breeze. Start by locating the special USB cable that was (hopefully) included with your camera. On one end it will have a standard USB plug (see FIGURE 1): this will be connected to your PC. On the other end will be a much smaller plug that has sightly angled edges: this will be plugged into your camera (warning: many power cable plugs have a shape similar to this small plug, so be sure to double-check the connections). It is possible to force the plug in the wrong way and possibly damage your camera or USB port, so take care to ensure that the orientation is correct.

Now locate a spare USB port on your PC. Some keyboards, such as the Microsoft Internet series, have a few spare ports on the top back area of the board. This can be a convenient spot, but remember to check that the keyboard is connected to the USB port of your computer; otherwise, you won’t be able to transfer the images. Another place to look for USB ports is at the front of your computer, because many new PCs have ports located under a small flap.

The best approach is to plug the USB into your computer before you plug in the camera. The reason is simple — this will stop you accidentally yanking the cord and possibly damaging the camera.

Now start Windows Explorer and note the drives that are present. Plug in your camera and — fingers crossed — two things will happen. A new ‘drive’ will appear with your camera’s name (try hitting the key if it is not visible) and, if this is your first time connecting the camera, XP will ask what action you wish to take. Select the Scanner and Camera Wizard.

If nothing happens, con­sult your camera’s manual to see if your camera needs to be turned on or off. Verify that the camera is working and the battery has some power. Check that the USB plug is secure and, if possible, try another USB device on the same setup. If you are still having problems at this stage, check the manual again or the manufacturer’s Web site for additional tips.

There are now two ways to get the images to your computer. First, you should decide if you are going to move the images or copy them. Moving means that they will be erased from your camera; copying means the files are kept both in the camera and on your hard drive. If you click on the camera ‘drive’ shown in Windows Explorer, the pictures will appear as normal files. Select the images you want and copy/move them to a folder on your system. That’s all you need to do. They are now the same as any other graphics files on your computer.

XP’s camera wizard may not suit every need, but it has some nifty shortcuts and management tools. After it pops up, it should display the model of your camera. Click Next to continue. The Preview screen (see FIGURE 2) is handy to determine which images to copy or delete. Plus, you can quickly rotate images by using the buttons on the bottom. The bottom-right button lets you take a picture while your camera is connected via the USB.

On the next screen, choose a destination and a default name for the photos. For example, if you type in ‘tiger’ for the picture group, your images will be called tiger001.jpg, tiger002.jpg, etc. If you don’t make changes to the group names or locations, XP continues numbering the photographs each time you import more images.

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Scott Mendham

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