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Monday, January 07, 2013

How to Use Windows Vista Photo Gallery

By Matthew Murray
Digital cameras are everywhere, as are programs designed to help you sort, view, and edit all the photos you take. But you don't need to go out and buy something like Photoshop Elements—there's a free app tucked away in Windows Vista's Start menu: Photo Gallery. Here's a brief look at how to use it, and what you can do with it.
If you already have photos stored on your computer, it's a snap to instantly add them all to Photo Gallery.
  1. Click the File menu.
  2. Click the "Add Folder to Gallery..." option.
  3. Navigate to the folder's location on your computer.
  4. Click OK. The folder will be added to the folder list on the left side of the Photo Gallery window.
You don't need to have already saved your photos on your computer—if they're still on your camera, or if you have one ready to scan, Photo Gallery can take care of that, too.
  1. Make sure your camera or scanner is connected to the computer and powered on.
  2. Click the File menu.
  3. Click the "Import from Scanner or Camera..." option.
  4. You'll see a list of attached devices. Click the one you want to use, then click the Import button.
  5. If you're scanning an image, you'll see a dialog box that lets you choose the image type, specify the color format and resolution, and so on. When you're done, click Preview to make sure everything's okay, then click Scan.
  6. Photo Gallery will also give you the opportunity to add a tag to the group of photos you're importing. For more information about tags, see "Tag and Rate Photos for Easy Organization" below.
After Photo Gallery has located all your pictures and can display them, you might want to add information that will be embedded in the file itself. This will give anyone who ever sees the file the backstory only you can impart, and allow you to easily find photos on searches later.
  1. To add a caption: Select the photo, then click <Add Caption>. Type as much information about the picture as you want.
  2. Entering terms in the Search field in Photo Gallery (or in Windows Vista itself) will search the caption text for all images in Photo Gallery. The more captions you have, the easier it will be to find your photos. (Note: Search will also find tags. See "Tag and Rate Photos for Easy Organization" below.)
  3. View or change a photo's properties: Right-click on a photo and select Properties. The Details tab will let you specify a subject for your photo, add additional comments, enter your name as the photographer, or change the dates the photo was taken or acquired.
Providing tags for your photos will make it easier to categorize and sort them. Microsoft gives you some default choices, but for greater convenience, you can create your own.
  1. To create a tag: Click "Create a New Tag" under Tags on the left side of the window, then type the name of the tag you want to create. It will appear on the list.
  2. To add a tag to a photo: Drag the photo's thumbnail onto the tag, or select the photo, then click the name of a tag in Photo Gallery's info panel to add it.
  3. To rate a photo: Select the photo, then click the appropriate stars in the info panel to rate the photo.
  4. To sort photos: Click the tag name or star rating on the left side of the screen to see all your photos bearing that tag or rating. You can view photos across multiple tags, ratings, or a combination of the two by holding down the Ctrl key while selecting them.
Don't expect award-winning shots every time you press the shutter button on your camera. But if you get an effect or a look you don't like, Photo Gallery provides some basic tools for tweaking the appearance of your pictures. Just click the photo you want to edit, then click the Fix button, and you're ready to start.
  1. Auto Adjust is the easiest way to clean up the exposure and color of your photo. Click the button, and Photo Gallery will automatically enhance your picture's color and sharpness.
  2. Adjust Exposure gives you two sliders for changing your picture's brightness or contrast. Moving the brightness adjuster will lighten or darken your entire image; the contrast slider lets you control the difference between the lightest and darkest areas in the image.
  3. Adjust Color allows you to change the temperature (cool or warm), red-green tint, or overall saturation of color in your image.
  4. Crop Picture lets you trim off excess portions of the image you don't need (or want) to see. Clicking this option will bring up a selection box on your image, which you can drag about the picture and adjust with the handles to be exactly the size you want. When you've selected the portions of the image you want to keep, click Apply to delete everything else.
  5. Fix Red Eye does exactly what it says: Removes the demonic look that sometimes creeps into photos when you're using a flash. Just click and drag the mouse cursor around the eye or eyes that need adjusting, and the color will correct itself.
  6. Not happy with your changes? Click on the Undo button to undo the change or changes you just made. Clicking the Revert button will return your photo to its starting state. (Note: Any changes must be undone before leaving Photo Gallery, but you can Revert at any time—even if you exit the program and come back later.)
Part of the fun of taking great pictures is being able to show them to others later. Photo Gallery makes this easy, too. Just select a photo or photos, then choose your sharing options.

Slide Show: If you just want to look at your collection on your computer, click the Play button at the bottom of the screen to start a slide show that includes all photos you've selected. You can even select different themes to change the way the show looks.
Print: Click the Print button, then click Print to bring up the Print Pictures window. Select what printer you want to use, what paper size, what resolution, the orientation of the photos on the page, the number of copies you want, and then click Print.
Order Prints: Click the Print button, then click the "Order Prints..." option. You'll be given a list of online and brick-and-mortar printing companies where you can send your images, and either view them or pick them up in person.
E-mail: Click the E-mail button, then specify how large you want the picture to be. Click Attach, and a blank e-mail will be created with the photo as an attachment.
CD or DVD: Click Burn, then click on the "Data Disc..." or "Video DVD..." options to save your photos to a blank CD or DVD.
Movie: If ordinary static images aren't enough for you, clicking the Make a Movie option will open up Windows Movie Maker, so you can combine photos, video, and audio into an exciting feature suitable for distribution via DVD or YouTube.