How to transfer files from a memory card to the computer

Updated: 08/16/2021 by Computer Hope
SD, SD mini, and SD micro cards.

Like an SD card, a memory card is way of transferring digital files (e.g., documents or photos) between computers or from a digital camera to a computer. This page walks you through how to transfer files from an SD card, miniSD card, MicroSD card, or CF card (CompactFlash card) to your computer.

What equipment do I need?

Determine if your computer has a card reader installed. It generally is on the front of the computer, similar to what's shown below. For laptop computers, you may have one SD card slot on the side of the laptop.

Internal memory card reader

If you don't have a card reader installed in your computer, purchase an aftermarket card reader with a USB connection, similar to what's shown below.

USB memory card reader aftermarket


Make sure the card reader you purchase contains a slot for the type of memory card you are using.

How to transfer files from a memory card to a computer

  1. If you have an external card reader, make sure it is connected to the computer.
  2. Insert the memory card in the proper slot of the card reader. For example, the SD card goes in the SD card slot, and the MicroSD card goes in the MicroSD card slot.
  3. Depending on your computer settings, when inserting the card, you may see a small notification window asking what to do with the files. If a notification window does not appear, File Explorer should open, showing the files on the memory card, similar to what is shown below.

SD card files shown in Windows Explorer.

  1. At this point, you need to decide if you're transferring some or all the files from the memory card.
  • If you're transferring all files, select all the files by pressing Ctrl+A, then right-click and select Copy, or press Ctrl+C to copy the files.
  • If you're only transferring some of the files, select the desired file(s), then right-click and select Copy, or press Ctrl+C to copy the files.

If you want to remove the files from the memory card when transferring, you can cut the files instead of copying them.

  1. Once the files are copied, open File Explorer (Windows key+E) and navigate to the folder where you want to save the files.
  2. Right-click an empty area in the folder in File Explorer and select Paste, or press Ctrl+V to paste the files in that folder.