Top tips for organizing your digital photo collection
Thanks to the magic of digital photography, it’s easy to capture and preserve treasured memories. But with inexpensive digital cameras everywhere, particularly in your mobile phone, chances are that you’ve amassed quite a large collection of digital snapshots.
The big question is how to manage that collection, let alone keep precious portraits of your pets from accidentally mixing in with those timeless wedding photos. The answer is easy with Windows 7, Windows Live, and Windows Vista, which offer a host of user-friendly photo management tools suitable for all skill levels.
Windows Live Photo Gallery lets you easily view, catalog, and organize pictures.
Organize your photos
Sorting through existing photos and adding new images to your collection doesn’t need to be a chore. All it takes to get started is a PC with Windows Vista or Windows 7 installed and a copy of Windows Live Photo Gallery, in addition to a digital camera or other device capable of capturing digital photographs.
Set aside some time to organize your collection: It may take a while, initially, to sort through images and set up a cataloging system. However, the process isn’t difficult, and by going through it, you’ll end up with a well-organized collection of digital memories that will be that much easier to browse and enjoy for years to come.
If you choose not to use the default Pictures folder in Windows 7, begin by creating a new folder where all images can reside. Be sure to label it something simple and instantly recognizable, like “Photos” or “My Images.”
Locate existing images on your computer, and move them to this folder so you’ll always know the single destination where snapshots can be found.
Be sure to delete duplicate images. The image library in Windows Live Photo Gallery helps you easily find copies. Simply hover over thumbnail images to see a larger preview of each photo. You can easily change the size of each thumbnail or adjust the way images are displayed, as well.
To add new photos to your collection, import images from your digital camera. You can find detailed instructions here.
During the import process, be sure to select your chosen image folder as the destination and add descriptive tags (simple text descriptions, such as “Vacation” or “Party,” that help you to locate or sort photos at a glance). Tips on changing import settings are also available.
Assign people tags, dates, and ratings to help you sort images. Tags can also be added after import for easier sorting.
Get in the habit of importing or downloading photos to the same folder on a routine basis. Once your system is set up, Photo Gallery can help you keep them organized. Finish by deleting transferred images from your camera or memory card, so there’s never any confusion over which photos have been copied to your PC.
Be sure to regularly back up your photos, too, to preserve your collection. Images can quickly and easily be archived to CDs, DVDs, external hard drives, USB thumb drives, and online storage services for effortless recovery and transport. If you have a lot of images and files on several computers to back up, it makes sense to consider adding a Windows Home Server and to skip using so many CDs and USB thumb drives to hold them all.
Descriptive tags make it easy to label and locate specific images.
Working with photos on a Windows Phone
If your photos are on a Windows Phone 7, you can download them to your PC by using Zune software to sync your PC and phone. Your photos sync automatically with the collection on your PC when you connect your phone.
If you have a Facebook account, you can connect it to your phone and automatically sync photos between your phone and Facebook.
Connect your phone to your PC or Facebook account to automatically sync photos with them.
Or, you can automatically upload your photos to SkyDrive for later download to your PC. If you photos are on an older Windows Phone, you can download them using the version of ActiveSync or Windows Mobile Device Center that matches the version of Windows you're using.
Upload your photos automatically from your phone to SkyDrive.
Manage and edit images
You can store and edit all your pictures in Windows Live Photo Gallery. The information and video on this page shows how to use the Windows Live Photo Gallery image library to:
Sort and catalog pictures using tags, dates, five-star ratings, and more—all of which are customizable.
Rename an entire batch of photos with an intuitive file name format that makes them easy to remember.
Find photos using the Search box, or search by tag or date.
Convert batches of images into different file formats, and organize photos in batches.
Determine file size, graphic resolution, tags, ratings, and date/time stamps at a glance.
Simple, built-in photo-editing tools are yours to enjoy with Windows 7.
Improve photos by removing imperfections, enhancing lighting, and brightening colors with built-in photo-editing tools. A simple slider bar and mouse-driven interface help you to quickly adjust options like:
Note: For best results, use Auto Adjust options, and crop photos to emphasize your subjects’ most striking features. Don’t be afraid to experiment with tint and saturation either—subtle changes can affect the entire mood or feel of any scene.
There's no need to worry about making a mistake. You can click Undo to roll back unwanted changes, one adjustment at a time.
Stitch images into stunning panoramas. For more information, you can find detailed instructions here.
Print images on your home printer, order from an online vendor, or print at a local photo kiosk.
Turn photos into dazzling slide shows, movies, and more with new image-sharing options.
After organizing your photos, you can quickly and easily locate favorite images and share them with friends and family. Windows 7 offers more ways to do so than ever, including:
Additional hints and tips
Juggling a growing collection of digital photos may seem overwhelming. But it’s easy if you remember the following tips, which can help anyone simplify the process:
Each time you download or import images, take a few extra moments to adjust file names and add tags, dates, people tags, and ratings. It’ll greatly speed up the process of locating them later, remembering which need cropping and editing, or finding those which are ready for printing and sharing.
Shoot photos at a consistent resolution and in the same file format, whenever possible. That way, you won’t have to worry about sorting and working with various types of media that may produce different results.
Sub-folders within your main photo storage folder make a handy way to group images and keep them organized by theme or event, such as “Holidays,” “Family Reunion,” or “College Graduation.”
Using file names and folders, keep edited images separate from original, untouched photos. Setting them apart won’t just help with organization but can also keep you from accidentally overwriting important images.
Boasting better built-in virtual darkroom options and more ways to share your photos, Windows 7 clearly raises the bar for digital photography.
A suitable learning tool and companion for photographers of all ages and expertise, the newest Microsoft operating system won't just improve your picture-taking talents in record time, but, happily, it will also give friends and family more ways than ever to share in the excitement.
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