File Organization with Windows Live Photo Gallery
Today I want to share my favorite file organization tool to date, Windows Live Photo Gallery. My son-in-law got me started on it when overnight I could not view thumbnails in Picasa any longer and I was frustrated with not have an organizer which let me work with files that were on my laptop, an EHD, and on our home server. I wanted one program that made it easy to access all those files and gave me one system for all types of files I would use for scrapbooking.
When I first started digital scrapbooking I use Photoshop Elements Organizer. I found it slow and limited in how I could view my files with the album system it uses. I really wanted to be able to view my files as I had them organized in folders and it would not let me do this. The kicker was the first time that I upgraded and I was not able to import all the tagging I had done. Off I want to find something else.
Next up was Picasa. I used Picasa the longest. It gave me the most flexiblity, tagging was quick, easy and gave me a lot of flexibility.The downside was the we kept our photos on our home server and it would not access those files at the time I was using. It was fabulous for scrapbooking supplies and I found it easy to tag and find supplies I wanted in my ever-growing scrapping stash. I had tagged extensively and had disciplined myself to tag new kits and products every month.
Because of its major flaw of limiting where I could import files from I also gave ACDSee a try because it came so highly rated. I did not like it at all. I hated how it changed file organization in Windows explorer for everything. I found it to be a very invasive program that made changes I did not want. I lost the ability to extract zip files with the Windows extraction utility. I also found the interface very clunky with too many steps to do any task. I deleted the program after the free trial but many of the changes persisted and I was unable to put things right again. I was not happy until I reformatted my hard drive to get rid of all the remnants of it!
To get over the flaw that I felt Picasa had, I moved all my photos to my laptop. I had a big hard drive so had room for everything. It did slow it down a bit, but it was worth it to view photos and scrap supplies altogether. Then disaster hit. I had done a clean up and gotten rid of some unnecesary files and all of a sudden I could not see file or photo thumbnails in Picasa any longer. The files were still all where the belonged, the folder structure was still in Picasa, but it was all blank. It was overwhelming to think of all the tagging I lost. I uninstalled and reinstalled Picasa. Still no thumbnails.
Enter Windows Live Photo Gallery. I had no idea that it was so much more than a way to share photos online. I downloaded it from the Windows website by clicking here. It is free. I forgot to mention I am using Windows 7 on my laptop. The website mentions that it might already by on your computer so follow the directions to look for it before you download.
Here is what the home screen of the photo gallery looks like on my laptop.
As I mentioned above I like to keep my files organized as they are on my computer. It is really easy to do this when you tell it what folders you want to add. First you click on the file icon and when the drop down menu opens click on Include folder.
Next you will choose the folders from your computer, an EHD, or a server you want to include in your Windows Live Gallery. 1) click add 2) your explorer opens up, navigate to wherever the folders are that you want to include. 3) Select the folders and click include folder. 4) The folders will show up in your Photo Gallery Library in the order that you select them.
Once you have all your files imported into the gallery it time to start working with them. Remember you did not move them from where they are on your computer. You are just viewing them through the gallery. Here is how mine are organized in my gallery. You can organize in whatever way works best for you. Do you see the strip across the top with all the icons and menu choices. That is the ribbon similar to what is found in Microsoft Office programs. The choices change on the ribbon depending on which tab is selected. I will start with showing you the Home tab. It is a great place to start. You can import, create new folders, copy, tag, do quick searches and share online from the home menu.
You also have stand photo gallery options on the low right. You can change image orientation, delete, do a slide show, toggle file details and change the thumbnail size with the zoom slider.
Here is what it looks like with the file details selected.
I love the rollover zoom feature in the gallery. Here is an example with an element png. Just put your mouse pointer over what you want to take a closer look at.
Now that I am a scrapper, I am rather an indiscriminate photographer when it comes to the number of shots I take. I do not have much confidence in my ability to get a great shot, so I compensate with numbers. That becomes a problem when I get dozens of great shots and can’t decide which to use on a layout. The flag feature is perfect for sorting through multiples of similar shots so you can narrow down your choices. On our recent trip to the Oregon coast my grandson’s spent the afternoon playing with bubbles. Thousands of bubbles. We took over 200 photos. I used the flag and quick find:flagged features on the Home tab to quickly narrow down the photos I wanted to use in a double page layout. I would flag all the photos I liked, click on the flag in the quick find box and it quickly sorts to display just the flagged files. I would look at the photos again, quickly unflag those that did not make the second cut, then click on flagged:quick find again. I did this until I had the number of photos I needed for the layout.
I have already mentioned that I used tag extensively in Picasa. The happiest thing I discovered when I started using Windows Live Gallery was that all my Picasa tags imported with my files. I did a very, very happy dance! Additionally, any metafile tags and tags applied by the designer also appear in the gallery. It was great to see I was going to be able to find so many of my scrap files with a quick tag search without reapplying thousands of tags. Here are some of the tag features.
Manage Tags brings up a list of all the tags applied to all the files you have in your gallery. You can find the manage tag box by clicking on Descriptive Tags on the Home menu. You can delete a tag from all files here or display all files with a tag by clicking on the tag name.
Here is where you can add a descriptive tag. Click on the View tab, and then the Tag and caption pane button to toggle open the pane on the right side of the window.
Click on descriptive tag and type in the tag you want to add. Now you can start selecting files or entire folders to tag with your new tag. I have not had to add to many new tags yet because of all the ones that imported in automatically and because the search feature in the gallery is very powerful.
I am an alpha addict. The addiction goes well beyond what any 12 step program could cure. I do have all my alphas tagged. I have separate alphas files in an alpha folder, but I keep alphas that come with kits filed with the kit. But I also like to choose just the right alpha for a layout. I am a notorious kit mixer and will look for what my mind’s eye is seeing until I can find it! To look at all of my alpha files (stop shaking your heads!) all I need to do is a tag search and I have them all in a few moments. In this example I clicke on Text search and typed in alpha sets which is my tag. I could also do it through the Manage tags feature. Hopefully you will not be able to see how many alpha files I have in the screen shot below.
The last tag feature I want to show you is the people tag. The batch people tag is the most powerful and accurate I have used in any of the organization programs I have used. From the Home menu I clicked on the Batch people tag and this is what pops up. I can select one of the photos across the top and it will search for photos that have that face in it. The facial recognition in Windows Live is amazing. I can select groups of these faces and confirm or decline them and then the gallery will find some more, and it will become increasingly more accurate. It even recognized a face in a photo sitting on a shelf in a photo I had taken! I was able to complete a batch tag using facial recognition in all of my 80,000 photos for one of my grandsons in a couple of hours. Once that is done I can come here and choose his face and it will show me all the photos that have his face in it. Facial recognition happens in the background, so as you add photos, it will work on them and when you come back here, it will give you more to confirm or decline to add that tag to. It makes looking for specific people photos so much easier and faster.
Well, obviously I could go on about tags for quite a while, but I want to show you the last few menus. First up is the edit tab. Here you can do batch edits on several photos or work on an individual photo. Now this is just the very basic editing. I do find the red eye remover much more effective than PSE. I like to do my straightening here as well, it is just quicker and easier than in PSE.
The find tab gives you access to advanced search options. Here is where you can easily click and search by just about any criteria.
Moving across the top the next tab is Create. A few fun tools such as panorama and photo fuse, as well as creating, ordering and sharing your photos online.
The last tab is the View tab. Here you can choose to view your files by several different criteria. It is like doing a virtual sort. I tend to keep my view on folder and use search when I want something specific, since you can both view and search using the just about all the same criteria.
I really do like Windows Live Photo Gallery a lot. It has really streamlined my scrap and photo file management and organization a lot. It is so much easier for me to find things. Now when I do need to resort to a hunt and peck search for a specific photo or kit, I tag, rate, flag or caption it depending on what is applicable once I do find it, so it is easy to find it again the next time. If you are using Windows and not using anything to organize your files or not happy with what you are using, I can recommend Windows Live Photo Gallery as a very effective resource. I hope you give it a try. Send me an email using the link under Contact the Editor at the upper left of the blog screen if you have any questions for me.
Happy file organizing and scrapping!