There are a thousand ways to transfer photos from your camera to a computer. None of them are wrong, but it’s all too easy to get lost in a blur of unfamiliar programs fighting for control of the process and making it confusing.

I have a recipe that has proven to be very successful for many people.

  • Don’t install the software that comes with a new camera. If the Add New Hardware wizard starts because the camera isn’t recognized immediately when you plug it into the computer, then never connect the camera directly to the computer again.
  • Instead, get a memory card reader for thirty bucks (random example). No software required! You’ll be putting the camera’s memory card into the reader.
  • Get Adobe Photoshop Elements 3. When you insert a memory card, a wizard will display thumbnails of the photos, offer to copy them into a folder on the hard drive, rename them with a descriptive name, and delete them from the memory card when it’s done. The same program will then organize your photos on the hard drive and help you edit them, e-mail them, print them, and create projects.
  • If you don’t want to spend the money for Photoshop Elements 3, then install Google Picasa for free, which does many of the same things.

You’ll have a happier computer. Photoshop Elements 3 is a big program, but it is far easier to use than any previous Adobe product. You can get started with it fairly quickly, and it will reward you if you invest some time in learning it.

If you’re buying a new computer, keep your eyes open for a feature that is becoming more common – built-in slots for memory cards. Some Dell models now offer an optional card reader in the slot where a floppy drive used to go. Many printers include slots for memory cards as well, but my experience with them has been strange – I have yet to work with one that wasn’t slow as molasses to transfer files to a computer.

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