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Tips: Two easy ways to get photos into your iPad

Consumer Reports News: July 09, 2010 04:27 PM

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The Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit ($29) comes
with an SD memory card adapter (right) and an
adapter that accepts your camera's USB cable.
Photo: Apple

In the three months that I've been using the iPad, I've very much enjoyed being able to display photos, both individually and in slide shows accompanied by music.

What I haven't enjoyed is the process for getting those photos into the iPad.

Back in April, my colleague Terry Sullivan noted two ways to transfer photos into an iPad: Use iTunes software to sync them from your computer, or copy them from a flash memory card using Apple's iPad Camera Connection Kit.

I've tried both and found them wanting in certain respects.

To use iTunes software, you must first put all the photos you want to sync into a single master photo folder on your computer's hard drive. If you want to group them into albums on the iPad, you must put each group of photos into a separate sub-folder on your hard drive located within the master photo folder.

I've done this and noticed several inconveniences:

  • I can't transfer photos to the iPad from the variety of original folders in which I've stored them on my hard drive over the past 12 years. Instead, I must make duplicates of the photos I want to sync, and store those in the master photo folder.
  • When I sync any photos to the iPad, iTunes tries to perform a backup of the iPad to my hard drive. That can be time-consuming when all you need to do is transfer a few photos to the iPad.
  • When I delete any photo from the master photo folder, or any of its sub-folders, the next time I perform a sync, iTunes removes that photo from my iPad. In effect, iTunes forces me to keep a set of duplicate photos in the master photo folder for as long as I want them to remain on the iPad.

Using Apple's $29 iPad Camera Connection Kit brought its own problems:

  • The kit's included SD card reader worked fine. (If you have a point-and shoot-camera that uses an SD card, this reader will make it easy to get photos into your iPad). But my SLR uses only Compact Flash cards. True, many newer SLRs do offer SD slots, but I'm not about to get rid of a pricey, perfectly good SLR that I like.
  • The Camera Connection Kit includes a USB adapter that let me transfer photos directly from the camera to the iPad via a USB cable. But the kit's USB adapter didn't work with the memory card readers I usually use with my computer, which rely on the computer's USB for their power.

With a little bit of research I've found two easy ways to get photos into my iPad:

  • An iPhone/iPad app called Photo Transfer App, $2.99, let me use my home wireless router to transfer photos from a desktop PC to the iPad. All I had to do was type a designated URL into my computer's Web browser, and the app appeared on my computer's display. It let me browse my hard drive and transfer files individually without having to go through the cumbersome iTunes.
  • The Griffin Simplifi Dock, $26.99 at Amazon, includes an AC-powered card reader compatible with several formats, including Compact Flash. It worked fine with the Apple kit's USB adapter and my Compact Flash cards.

Apple says you can also transfer photos from a computer directly to the iPad using iPhoto or Photoshop Elements software. I haven't tried that yet. The two techniques I've listed above have the advantage that you need not organize your photos using proprietary software.

If you've discovered other convenient ways to move photos into an iPad, share it below.

—Jeff Fox

Jeffrey Fox

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