How to view trail camera photos on the computer

How to view trail camera photos on the computer

When using a trail camera, there are lots of things to have in mind apart from where to position the camera or how best to keep it out of sight for maximum functionality. Understanding how to view, save and delete the images taken by your trail camera is as important as any other thing to have in mind, if not even more important than others because when a problem occurs in this aspect, knowing what and how to solve it makes it the most vital to-know aspect of your trail camera. So, the question is how do you view trail camera photos on the computer?

All you have to do is connect the trail camera with an SD card inside it to your computer or remove the SD card using the provided instruction and insert it on your computer to view your photos.

The SD card is the most important component of your trail camera; without it, the camera would be working in vain. Good practice on how to store, organize, and use the SD card view photos stored on it on your computer is important. In the course of this article, we would show you how you utilize your SD card perfectly in viewing and downloading photos on your computer; so let’s delve in!

How to view trail camera photos on the computer

How to view trail camera photos on the computer

Trail cameras act remotely and are triggered to action either by motion or heat from a target. Many trail cameras come with a feature that helps you view your photos on the device itself, it’s called the ‘viewfinder’. This feature not only helps you adjust your camera to face your desired direction, but it also allows you to view your photos directly on the camera itself through the playback option on the menu screen. Viewfinders are usually less than 3 inches and they will not give you the best quality photo, but they however give you a quick view if you need to see the photos immediately.

While this feature is still widely in use, it is dropping drastically, due to the fact that it is battery consuming and there is now the option of using your computers. Hence, the majority of trail camera users have evolved to simply using their private computers or laptop to view photos captured by their cameras.

But before you can begin to view the photos on your computer, you would have to create a connection between the trail camera or hardware containing the photos and the computer or laptop you wish to view them on. This can be done in two ways:

  • Simply insert your SD card into the SD slot of the computer you wish to view your photos on, using the image viewer installed on the computer or laptop.
  • Connecting the trail camera directly to the computer or laptop’s USB port with a USB cord. Although, this is not often in use because many trail cameras do not come with a USB option.

The above are the most secure ways to view your pictures. It also has an extra advantage in that you can easily save the pictures and videos after viewing them. It is an important aspect of using a trail camera because if not done correctly could lead to permanent loss of files and even worse, corrupt your camera or the SD card. But when done correctly, it is safe and quick.

We shall now take a step by step guide on how to view trail camera photos on your computer or laptop.

Using method one (SD card) on a window OS

Step 1: Turn ON the laptop or desktop computer as the case may be. Also, shut down the trail camera and remove the SD card CAREFULLY.

Step 2: Insert the SD card of the trail camera on the SD card port of the computer or laptop.

Step 3: After inserting the SD card, it opens showing a folder on your main screen. If it is the first time to use such an SD card on the computer, an authorization to grant access to the SD card would be required.

Step 4: Double click on the folder that pops up on your home screen. In cases where no folders pop up, search for ‘my computer’ on the search bar of your computer and double click it. Then scroll down to the storage area and double click the SD card which usually appears as /:E/ or /:D/ unless named.

Step 5: A new window opens displaying the contents of the SD card. Highlight all contents of the SD card using ‘CTRL+ A’ and right click your mouse.

Step 6: Select how you wish to view the contents of the SD card. Your installed image or video player would be listed after performing step 5.

Step 7: Your image viewer begins to play all images and videos one at a time. You can use the direction key to toggle forward or backward.

Using method one (SD card) on a MacBook

The procedures when using a MacBook are pretty much the same as that of a Windows system except in step 3 where it is somewhat different because the file system has a different name. A general understanding of how the MacBook works is enough to understand it.

Using method two (USB) on Windows OS

Step 1: Turn ON the laptop or desktop computer as the case may be.

Step 2: Connect the computer directly to the trail camera using a compatible USB cord.

Step 3: After connecting both devices with a USB cord, the camera folder pops up on your main screen displaying the name of the device. If it’s the first time to connect both devices, an authorization to grant access to the trail camera would be required.

Step 4: After granting access, double click on the folder that pops up on your home screen. In cases where no folders pop up, search for ‘my computer’ on the search bar of your computer and double click it. Then scroll down to the storage area and double-click the name of the trail camera which usually appears as /:E/ or /:D/ unless named.

Step 5: A new window opens displaying the contents of the SD card. Highlight all contents of the SD card using ‘CTRL + A’ and right click your mouse.

Step 6: Select how you wish to view the contents of the SD card. Your installed image or video player would be listed after performing step 5.

Step 7: Your image viewer begins to play all images and videos one at a time. You can use the direction key to toggle forward or backward.

Using method two (USB) on a MacBook

The steps involved when connecting a MacBook and the trail camera is the same as when using a Windows system except in step 3 where it is different because the file system has a different name. However, understanding the MacBook system enables you to understand this.

After using your computer to view your trail camera photos, make sure you safely eject the SD card or trail camera connected by a USB to prevent loss of files, card or camera failure, or camera failure.

How to download trail camera photos on the computer

Many times, we want to keep records of our security cam footage and videos in order to prevent loss or spoilage of the hardware device housing the data. That is totally normal.

There are basically two ways to download your trail camera photos onto your computer taking into consideration, the type of computer and the method of the download which could either be via USB or SD card. They are automatic means or manual means.

Automatic

Based on the model, make, and operating system of your computer when you insert the SD card that you wish to download the data from onto the computer, you will see a pop-up menu that says import to the computer. The menu gives you other options which include directly viewing or importing it to the computer, or as in this case, downloading. This process is usually common with a MacBook unlike in a Windows system where you have to manually select the folder.

After which you can click on the pop up to import and all contents of the SD card will be downloaded to your computer. While doing this, you will be given an option to delete all photos the moment the download is complete. However, do not select that option. Deleting photos on your memory card from your computer is unsafe as it could lead to the corruption of the files.

We discussed the automatic method using the SD card. We will take a quick look at the same method but using a USB connection as a means of download.

Using the USB process in downloading your trail camera photos onto your computer is quite different. In this case, most trail cameras when connected to a computer don’t give a pop-up menu for the automatic method, we shall discuss this further in the manual method.

Automatically downloading your trail camera content to your computer is the quickest and safest way to download the entire photo folder onto your computer. However, once the process is done, safely eject your SD card or trail camera before disconnecting it from the computer.

Manual

This method is for those whose computer does not have an automatic download option to the computer so you have to do it manually by following the steps below;

  • Navigate, using the computer’s cursor and go to your files folder on your computer, click on the SD card. It is usually named as /:E/ or/ :D/ depending on the computer which uses various drives to locate an external storage unit unless it is named.
  • After clicking on the SD card, locate the DCIM folder in the SD card. Most devices usually have the DCIM folder inside the drive folder.
  • Right-click your mouse and select copy. The computer then copies the entire folder to its main screen.
  • Proceed to the main screen of your computer and again, right click your mouse and select paste. This is the way to manually download the entire SD card content of your trail camera to your computer.

In case you’re using the USB option to download your files to your computer, the process is the same as that of the SD card in manual method.

Note that when downloading files onto your computer, ALWAYS use the copy and paste option. Do not get comfortable using the quicker method of clicking and dragging the whole folder to your main screen. Though the result is eventually the same as using copy and paste, there’s the possibility that when doing this, the computer could for some reason lag or hang which would leave the file copying in a state of limbo and ultimately result in the loss of the files. But when you use the copy and paste option, all your files on the SD card remain intact even if the computer hangs because you have the files copied in your dashboard and currently downloading to your main screen with the former serving as a back in the event of the above issue.

When this process is completed eject the SD card or USB connected trail camera. Now, you have your photos on your computer. You can sort them and go back to view them anytime.

The health of your SD card is, however, important because, before you can begin to view or download your newly captured trail camera photos on your computer or even on your trail camera. There are a few things you need to do in order to make sure your SD cards are in good working condition and free of corruption. There are four ways to make sure your SD card stays in good condition, they are;

Use quality SD cards

The quality of your card matters a lot because all SD cards are not the same. Purchase your SD cards from a well-known brand. Well-known brands develop SD cards through technological innovations made possible from user experiences. They are typically more durable and have a better ability to resist easy corruption by viruses. Making use of them has a greater percentage that your files are safe till wherever you wish you view them on your computer.

Never format your SD cards outside your trail camera! After purchasing a quality SD card, you should ONLY format the card inside the trail camera that it will be used. In doing so, you give access to the camera to arrange the file composition to work seamlessly with its algorithm. It sets up the files from your camera making it easy for your computer to access and view them.

Number/Label your SD cards

It is recommended that your label your SD cards numerically, alphabetically, or as you deem fit. Do this with preferably, a black marker; that way, you can easily, without making a mistake, know and switch the card that needs to be replaced if it begins to malfunction when out in the field.

Rationing your SD cards to specific cameras will prevent a case when the card picks up files and drops them on the firmware of another trail camera. When you use a single SD card for multiple trail cameras, files can be mistakenly transferred from one camera to another. This increases the risk of corrupting these files for computer use.

Safeguard your SD cards

Your SD cards should be kept safe at all times. You do not want your cards to get damaged. Flinging your SD cards to the button of your backpack and allowing them to possibly get scratched or pick up particles like dust will have a negative effect on the cards.

When the metallic cover on the back of an SD card gathers dust or gets scratched, the effect is a poor connection to the contacts around the trail camera. This will lead to card failure which will prevent the photos from being viewed by a computer.

Also, switching off your trail cameras before removing the SD card helps to prevent file loss. Trail cameras are motion and heat triggered, so when you are changing the SD card, it is most likely that your trail camera is taking pictures of you. Always turn your camera off and wait for 50 seconds to 1 minute before changing the SD card. If you take the card out before it completes the picture it is taking, you risk the loss of images that are already stored on the card.

Lastly, your firmware should be updated once a year to check if the trail camera manufacturer has released a firmware update on the camera. This is important because the firmware update involves how the camera saved files to your SD card. Using a lower update could cause glitches that might prevent a computer from viewing your photos.

Check out a YouTube video showing how you can view your trail camera photos on your computer.

 

Bill Toro

Written by Bill Toro

I’m Bill Toro. I have been invited by my best friends to go camping with them when I was bored with my life. That all It’s a game-changer for my entire life. This site is all about things I found interested useful while camping. It’s will be something that helps you have better camper moments.

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