Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Digital cameras are often accompanied with software that you are encouraged to install first. Often it's not required; I'll show you the alternative.
I just bought An Acer NetBook plus a Canon SX 20IS to use on vacation this summer. The software with the SX 20IS cannot be used on the NetBook due to the NetBook resolution of 1024 x 600. Canon needs 1024x768 resolutions. This concerns all NetBooks manufacturers. That means millions of NetBooks lack resolution for new digital cameras. The NetBook manufacturers point the finger and the camera manufacturers and vice versa. Is there a fix somewhere?
I can't fix the software or the netbook, but for most cameras I can fix the scenario.
It feels like some deep dark secret, but for most cameras there's a very simple solution. It's so simple that it's exactly what I've done over the course of several cameras myself.
Use the camera, just don't use the software.
What most people don't realize is that for most current cameras the software that's included with the camera is unnecessary for most purposes. (The same is actually true for many other devices, but I'll focus on digital cameras for this discussion.)
Don't install it.
Great. I can hear you asking "but how do I get my photos from my camera to my computer?"
Typically, one of a handful of ways:
The camera as a disk drive. Connect your camera to your computer using the cable that comes with it (typically a USB cable). The memory card within many cameras may then simply appear to your computer as an additional drive. Fire up Windows Explorer and you may find a new drive - perhaps "G:" or "E:" or some other letter that you previously didn't have, and on that you'll likely find a folder "DCIM", and in there additional folders.
And in there?
As files. Typically ".jpg" files, sometimes other formats, but they're there. Just files.
Files you can then copy to your computer yourself.
The camera as a device. Connect the camera to your computer and Windows may automatically install drivers (it might ask for drivers in which case I'd let it search Windows Update first, but failing that you can use the CD that came with your camera - if the necessary drivers there only the drivers will be installed). Once completed fire up Windows Explorer. You may find not a drive, but a separate removable device. Double click on it and you'll once again likely find a folder "DCIM", and in there ...
As files you can then copy to your computer yourself.
The memory card as a drive. If your computer doesn't already have one, get yourself a memory card reader that you can connect to your computer that will read the memory cards used by your camera. This is what I do - I have a 16-in-1 USB reader that will read 16 different kinds of memory cards. I take the memory card out of my camera, insert it into the memory card reader and fire up Windows Explorer. Once again you may find a new drive that you previously didn't have, and on that drive you'll likely find a folder "DCIM" and your pictures as files you can then copy to your computer yourself.
All without having installed any of the software that might have come with the camera.
So why is that software included at all?
A few possible reasons:
Sometimes the techniques above don't work. Sometimes, particularly with older cameras, the pictures are maintained in a proprietary non-standard format, and the manufacturer's software is required to access or decode your pictures into the more common formats that you can actually use. Personally, I would now avoid cameras that do this - there's simply no need for it.
The manufacturer is trying to be helpful by providing software that they believe is easier to use than the techniques I've listed above. Sometimes it really is, sometimes ... not so much.
The manufacturer is trying to install additional software to "up sell" you to services that you may or may not want. You can guess what I think of this practice.
Now I most definitely save the CDs or other media on which the additional software is supplied with my camera. Sometimes you may find later that you do need something from the CD; perhaps a driver (as I mentioned above), or perhaps there is a piece of software that comes with it you may later decide you want.
But as for me: I connect my camera first, and worry about the software later, if ever.
A final note.
Figure It Out! Even if this article didn't help you, work to find something that does.
By that I mean whatever you do, figure out some way to copy the pictures off of your camera. If the pictures are only on your camera and you lose it or the memory card fails, you'll have lost all your pictures.
All of the principles of backing up apply here: if your data (your pictures) is in one and only one place you risk losing it all if that one place is lost.
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