By John Carucci

At first glance, the GoPro resembles a miniature version of an early 20th-century box camera or maybe the Instamatic still camera of the 1970s. Its design is simple: nothing more than a small box with a protruding lens, a few buttons, and a small LCD screen up front on most models.

One very important piece doesn’t come with the camera: the microSD card. Guess what? The camera won’t work without it. Ideally, you purchased one when you bought your GoPro. If not, get one before you set up your camera.

Setting up your GoPro takes a few minutes (not counting battery-charging time) but is easy. Follow these steps:

  1. Take off the GoPro’s protective waterproof housing.
    (Skip to the next step if you’re using a HERO5 Black or Session.)
    Like a turtle uses it shell for protection, so does the GoPro. But you need to take the GoPro out of its case to set it up. Pull the black latch on the top front of the camera. You’ll need to pull it back hard because it locks in place. Lift the latch and pull out the camera.
  2. Put the battery in the camera.
    (Skip to next step if you’re using a Session.)
    Slide off the battery door, place the battery inside the camera, and put the door back on. The battery comes partially charged and can be used right out of the box, but it’s a good idea to charge it fully (see Step 4).
  3. Load the microSD memory card.
    Insert SD card on bottom door where battery is located. Push the tiny card into the card slot until it locks in place. If you’re using an older model, the door on the side of the camera slides off. Then slide the door back on.
  4. Charge the camera.
    Plug one end of the charger cable (the one with the mini USB plug) into the camera and the other end into your computer or USB power supply. While the camera is charging, the LED lights turn on; when the camera is fully charged, they go off. You can also use the optional GoPro Super Charger, which charges your HERO5 up to 70% faster with the USB-C cable. And you can charge your phone or other device at the same time.
  5. Power up the camera.
    Press the Power/Mode button. The LED indicators blink, and the camera beeps three times.
  6. Shoot some video.
    Once your camera is charged, you’re ready to start recording. The video mode is the default mode when you turn on the camera. Press the Shutter/Select button to record video; press it again to pause it.
  7. Take a still photo.
    Press the Power/Mode button to find the Photo button, which looks like a camera. You can also pick other still-photo choices like Burst Photo and Time-Lapse.