Downloading Checklist

The following detailed checklist can walk you through this most important process in digital photography. While the steps will vary somewhat, the general procedure should be the same.

Step-by-Step Typical Download from a Camera

The process of transferring image files from your camera to a computer can begin with the downloading of thumbnails for each picture. The thumbnails take the place of a contact sheet, allowing you to view your images. Using the thumbnails, the photographer decides what files to download and what files to delete.

The first rule of computer file management goes as follows: Never automate a destructive command. You might delete something you didn't mean to delete. With an automated process, you may not even understand that you accidentally deleted a file. Instead, you must take control so that if you mess up you can try to figure out a remedy. For example, never select the option ‘Delete Files After Transfer’ which will automatically delete your camera files. You should verify that the transfer of images to your computer was successful before deleting any camera files.

Generally, the transfer process happens this way:

  • Connect your camera with the AC power cord and, if possible, avoid using batteries or use fresh batteries. You do not want your camera to shut itself down in the middle of a transfer operation.

  • Connect the camera's USB transfer cable to the appropriate output plug on the camera; connect the other end to the computer's USB port.

  • If the software does not load automatically when you connect the USB, use picture file management software on the computer to open the camera's stored photos.

  • Go to the list of photo thumbnails that are in your camera.

  • Choose the ones you want to transfer to the computer.

  • Do not delete any pictures at this time — this means avoid the Move and Delete commands and use Copy instead.

  • Select the directory to which you'd like to transfer the files; make sure that none of the names of the new pictures are the same as old pictures already in the folder.

  • Instead of selecting a folder, consider creating a new empty folder — this will prevent any accidental erasures since there will be no way new pictures can overwrite old pictures.

  • Select the command ‘Transfer Selected Images’.

  • The downloading process begins. Go get a cup of coffee. When the transfer is complete, continue to the next step.

  • Go to the folder on your computer and check that all the pictures you selected for downloading were copied correctly into the designated folder.

  • At this point, decide which photos on the camera you want to delete and then do so.

  • Make your own checklist similar to this with your own notes for your particular camera, computer, and software.

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