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Anyone who has taken photos or videos with an iOS device only to delete them after an iPhoto import has no doubt learned the hard way that the Camera Roll is a one-way street. Here’s a quick workaround for getting images back to the Camera Roll on your iPad, using the Camera Connector Kit.
Apple makes it easy to shoot photos and videos with the current generation of iOS devices, but if you’ve chosen to import and delete that media, you’ve no doubt discovered there’s no way to get them back into the Camera Roll again. You may be asking, why would I want to do this in the first place? Isn’t syncing this media via iTunes just as good? That may be the case for media you want to manage with iTunes and iPhoto, but sometimes you just want to stick a video of your kid being goofy onto your iPad to share with family or friends, without the hassle of syncing.
To pull of this feat of strength, you’ll need an iPad, of course -- either model will do, so long as it’s running iOS 4.3 or later. You’ll also need the $29 Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit, along with some type of USB 2.0-based digital camera or SD card, which we’ll use as a go-between to shuttle the media from your computer to the iPad.
Now here’s the trick: The iPad recognizes any properly formatted mass storage device with a folder called “DCIM,” which is short for “Digital Camera IMages” (part of the file system for digital devices). That means that any compatible media you copy to a storage device containing a DCIM folder will be recognized by the iPad when you plug it into the Camera Connection Kit, either via USB 2.0 or SD card (the kit includes adapters for both purposes).
Simply mount this camera media on your Mac, browse to the DCIM folder via the Finder and copy your .JPG photos or .MOV videos into it -- which can also include media shot with another camera, provided the files it outputs are iPad-friendly, such as the late, great Flip video cameras.
Eject your camera or SD card from the Mac, connect with the appropriate Camera Connector Kit adapter and plug into the dock connector of your iPad. In a moment, the Photo app will launch and you’ll be greeted by an import window displaying the media you just copied onto it, same as if it had been shot with a digital camera. Select “Import All” to pull everything back to your Camera Roll, or individual photo or video files. When the files are imported, unplug the Camera Connector Kit and like magic, your media is back in your Camera Roll once more, as shown below:
Sadly, this trick doesn’t work on the iPhone or iPod touch, only because the Camera Connector Kit isn’t compatible with these devices. (If you don’t believe us, go try to plug one of the adapters in and see what happens. We’ll wait.) However, for iPad users who prefer to drop the occasional video or photo onto their device without going through a lengthy iTunes sync, it’s a lifesaver.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter