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How Does a Digital Picture Frame Work?

Picture Frame Connected to Computer

Posted on 05, February, 2015

Last Modified on 16, March, 2015

There are a few things you should know before you tear apart the packaging of your new digital picture frame. Your first step is to determine which photos you would want to use. This can really be the hardest part of setting up your electronic frame.

A Few Rules to Remember

Some digital frames are only compatible with certain file extensions. File extensions?! What are those? Simply put, they are just the type of file that your image is saved as. Most frames are compatible with JPG & JPEG file extensions. If the digital frame supports video capable, it likely compatible with MPEG-4 and MJPEG (Motion JPEG) files. Another thing to remember is that you want to make sure your digital photos are high resolution. This way, you end up with the the best & brightest looking photos you possibly can. So try to upload the highest size and resolution possible.

Your digital frame instructions/box should have the specifications, requirements & suggestions to help you set up the product. Digital photo frames store images in different ways. Some just need the SD card with the images inserted into the frame, while others have you upload the images from a computer using a USB wire to transfer the images. Some of the new versions allow for content to be uploaded wirelessly over the internet. If software is required, a DVD with the specific program will be packed with the product. Some products offer the photo software as a file that is downloadable through their website, which can be accessed with a supplied code.

How to Convert Images to a Universal Format

By opening your pictures in a photo editor on your computer you can ‘save files as’: a JPG or JPEG by clicking ‘save as type’ on the bottom and changing the file extension to the appropriate format or file type. See the following links for Microsoft Windows & Apple OS X instructions.

Microsoft Windows Instructions Mac OS X Instructions

How to Locate & Copy Your Photos

  • Turn on your computer and locate the photographs you want to display on the frame. On most computers these photographs will be stored in a folder called "My Pictures" or "My Documents." Just right-click (or Ctrl+click for Mac OS) on "My Computer," choose "Explore" from the menu and navigate to those folders. Once there click on "View" and choose "Thumbnails" from the menu. This will allow you to see a preview of each photograph so you can choose the right ones.
  • Highlight the first file you want to copy, hold down the "Ctrl" key on the lower left or right hand side of your keyboard, and then select the next photo you want to copy. Continue this process until you have selected all of the photographs you want to display on your digital photo frame. After you have selected all of the files right-click and choose "Copy" from the menu. This will copy all of the files to a temporary clipboard and make it easier to move them. Some digital frame software allows you to drag and drop photos. It might also be easier if you choose all the images and place them into a new folder. This way you can view all your images easily.
vista pictures folder

Find & Upload the Pictures Onto Your Hard Drive with an External Drive

  • Make sure that you have copied all images that you want by the using the previous instructions. Insert a thumb drive into a free USB port on your computer. Wait a few seconds for the computer to recognize the thumb drive, then right-click the drive letter of that thumb drive (most likely the drive letter will be "E:" "F:" or "G"). After right-clicking choose "Paste" from the menu. This will copy all of the photographs you selected in the previous step onto your thumb drive.
  • If your picture frame uses a memory card, place the card in the memory card reader attached to your computer. Insert the external drive/card into the digital frame and follow the previous step to move your images.
  • Insert the thumb drive into the USB port on the digital photo frame and then plug the frame in. Depending on the model, you may need to press a button to start the slideshow of images.
  • If your picture frame uses a memory card insert it into your picture frame, then plug the frame in, power it up and start the slideshow.
USB/Flash Drive with Digital Photo Frame

To transfer photos wirelessly, connect to the same network that the device is on. If the frame is Bluetooth-enabled you will be able to upload pictures from a smartphone or Bluetooth ready computer/tablet.

Some frames have customization capabilities, which let you choose the transitions between photos as well as select a widescreen (16:9) or standard (4:3) photo ratio.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure photos are in the correct format. JPG is a universal format.
  • Do not disconnect the wire until everything is uploaded. Then click on the "Safely Remove Hardware" option to eject the drive.
  • Keep original photo files on computer or thumb drive.
  • Keep in mind that you might not be able to move photos back to computer from digital frame.