Thanks to digital cameras we can take as many photos and videos as we like these days. Until the memory card fills up, that is.

Of course, you can put the pictures on to your computer at any time, and here we’ll explain everything you need to do.

First, it’s important to understand that there are two main ways to copy photos to your laptop. One is to use the USB cable that came with your camera to connect it to your laptop.

The second is to remove the memory card from your camera and insert it into your laptop’s card reader. Virtually all cameras these days use ‘SD’ cards, and we haven’t seen a laptop in a long time that doesn’t have a slot which accepts this type of memory card.

For this reason (and because cameras have different 'modes' for copying photos via USB) we recommend you use this second method, and use the USB cable only if you have problems.

Step 1: Take the memory card from your camera and insert it into your laptop. The SD card needs to be pushed in all the way until you hear a click.

Step 1 insert SD card

Step 2: Windows should display a message asking what you want to do with the card. This is the AutoPlay menu, and we recommend you choose Open folder to view files.

Step 2 AutoPlay

Step 3: A new Explorer window should open and you should see at least one folder called DCIM. This is where your photos are stored. Double-click the folder and you will see at least one folder within it. If you see multiple folders, check in each one to see which contain photos. If you’ve used the card in several cameras, each will create its own folder in the DCIM folder.

Step 3 DCIM folder

Step 4: Change the view so you can see thumbnails of the photos. If you have Windows 8 (as we do here) click the View tab and choose Large icons to see thumbnails. You can also enable the preview pane (the option is on the left-hand side of the View tab) which will display a large version of the photo when you click on it.

Step 4 - Enable thumbnail view

Step 5: Select the photos you want to copy. The easiest way is to select them all by clicking on the Home tab and the Select all on the right-hand side. (You can also press Ctrl and the ‘A’ key, or click the Edit menu and choose select all in other versions of Windows). Then click the Copy icon on the left-hand side of the ribbon (or hold Ctrl and press C). [NOTE: If you don't want to select all photos, hold down the Ctrl key and click on the photos you do want to select before clicking the Copy icon]

Step 5 Select all photos

Step 6: Click on Pictures under ‘This PC’ (or in Computer if you have Windows 7, or My Computer in Vista) and click the New Folder button in the ribbon. Again, if you don’t have windows 8 you can press Ctrl – Shift – N together to create a new folder, or right-click in some empty space in the Pictures folder and choose New, then from the next menu: Folder.

Step 6 create new folder

Step 7: Type a name for your new folder, press Enter and then double-click on the folder to open it.

Step 7 name new folder

Step 8: From the Home tab, choose Paste (or hold Ctrl and press V). The photos will be copied into the new folder.

Step 8 paste photos

What you should do now is to tag the photos. You can also rename them. Both jobs are worthwhile as it will make those photos easier to find later on.

If all this seems like too much work, you can import photos automatically whenever you insert an SD card into your laptop. Windows 7 can do this, as can Dropbox, Picasa and Photoshop Elements.

Most programs will automatically create a folder using the current date, but you may have to choose in the program’s settings where you want those folders to be created – the default is usually the My Pictures folder.

Once you've checked to make sure your photos have copied correctly, you can delete them from your memory card.