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Flash Drives and Memory Cards with Windows 8

Digital camera owners eventually become acquainted with memory cards — those little plastic squares that replaced the awkward rolls of film. Windows 8 can read digital photos directly from the camera after you find its cable and plug it into your PC. But Windows 8 can also grab photos straight off the memory card, a method praised by those who’ve lost their camera’s cables.

The secret is a memory card reader: a little slot-filled box that stays plugged into your PC. Slide your memory card into the slot, and your PC can read the card’s files, just like reading files from any other folder.

Most office supply and electronics stores sell memory card readers that accept most popular memory card formats: Compact Flash, SecureDigital, Micro-Secure Digital, SecureDigital High Capacity, and a host of other tongue twisters. Some computers even come with built-in card readers — tiny slots on the front of their case.

The beauty of card readers is that there’s nothing new to figure out: Windows 8 treats your inserted card just like an ordinary folder. Insert your card, and a folder appears on your screen to show your digital camera photos. The same drag-and-drop and cut-and-paste rules still apply, letting you move the pictures or other files off the card and into a folder in your Pictures library.

Flash drives — also known as thumbdrives — work just like memory card readers. Plug the flash drive into one of your PC’s USB ports, and the drive appears as an icon in File Explorer, ready to be opened with a double-click.

  • First, the warning: Formatting a card or disk wipes out all its information. Never format a card or disk unless you don’t care about the information it currently holds.

  • Now, the procedure: If Windows complains that a newly inserted card or floppy isn’t formatted, right-click its drive and choose Format. (This problem happens most often with brand-new or damaged cards.) Sometimes formatting also helps one gadget use a card designed for a different gadget — your digital camera may be able to use your MP3 player’s card, for example.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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