Microsoft just released their ‘Live Wave 3’ updates prior to the big CES show. Today, we’re going to focus on the Windows Live Photo Gallery and why you should get it! If you’ve used Windows Photo Gallery, or any of their other ‘Windows’ branded apps years ago and were underwhelmed, well, this is different.
Think of WLPG (windows live photo gallery), being an upgraded Picasa. I’ve used Picasa in the past and was pretty happy with it, although it seemed like it would arrange my pictures in ways I didn’t understand. In all fairness, I didn’t stop to read much about the program and what it could do for me. So when I changed computers awhile back, I didn’t put it back on and just imported my pictures using windows explorer, named my folders, and left it at that.
Then, I started my VA business, got a website and started blogging. I heard about the Windows Live brand quite a bit from the ‘Windows Weekly’ podcast with Paul Thurrott & Leo Laporte. Thurrott has a ‘Live Services’ tab on his blog where he’s extensively reviewed the Live Products. So, I decided to try out the Windows Live Photo Gallery and thought it was pretty cool, but didn’t go much further with it.
I recently downloaded the newest Live updates and decided to look into what the Live Photo Gallery could do. I wasn’t expecting it to be better than Picasa, better than, well, Google—how could that be? I did some searches of WLPG vs. Picasa and was pleasantly surprised that most reviews gave the edge to WLPG. All found that WLPG was faster at getting your pictures on-line than Picasa – that’s huge. WLPG has a feature (as does Picasa), where you can tag and categorize your pictures. The difference is that when you tag, or add additional information to your WLPG pictures, the information stays with the picture if you email or upload it. That’s a nice feature and eliminates additional editing.
If you already have photos on your computer, after WLPG is installed, it will automatically file them neatly in the program. Open WLPG and you will see how they’ve been organized for you. But you’re not limited to viewing by date. There’s a drop down called ‘Arrange by’, where you can sort by date, type, name, tag or person – very handy. You can tell WLPG to look for pictures in other folders on your computer and add them to the gallery.
Importing is a breeze with several options. Instead of having to import all my pictures, it groups them by date, tells me how many pictures are in each group and asks me if I want to organize them before importing! This is great. Here is where I can add a descriptive folder name and tag the picture before it’s uploaded. Do it right away and it’s done! Later, when I’m in a hurry and looking for a particular photo, I can click on the tag and instantly all photos with that tag will be there.
After my pictures are in the gallery, it’s easy to publish them to my Windows Live Photo Gallery that is on-line. I can select an entire folder and with a few clicks, tell the program where to put it, what to name it and who to share it with.
So, what if I or someone looking at my pictures wants a copy? There is a ‘Print’ drop down button where you can select ‘on-line printing services’ and send the photos you want printed to any of a number of services, i.e. Snapfish, Shutterfly, Kodak, CVS, etc. This is great. You are directed to sign-in and it puts the photos in your on-line album where you can order prints. What a great benefit!
Of course you have various photo enhancements available to you with WLPG to help clean up your pictures quickly. You can select pictures and then click ‘burn to CD or DVD’, ‘make a movie’, stitch a panoramic photo, or put photos in a blog posting. WLPG will allow you to work on GIF and TIFF files, Picasa won’t.
Limitations: Picasa has a space limit of 1GB for your photos and three web albums per month. WLPG has a 500 photo/month limit for upload, but as far as I know, they don’t limit you on the space used.
Advantage Windows Live: I was excited to see that I can share an album with people who don’t have a Windows Live ID! I was also pleased to find when I started typing in someone’s name, the complete email address auto-filled. This was because my contacts were already loaded into Windows Live – woo hoo! With Shutterfly and other photo sharing services, I have to type them in…nice.
I viewed a couple of on-line tutorials from the Main Stream Guide that contrasts Picasa and WLPG and found them very helpful in showing me features I didn’t know.
If you haven’t visited Microsoft lately, take a look at their new look and the site map that opens up right on the front page so you can actually find what you’re looking for. Go to the ‘Downloads’ section and find Windows Live and from there you can select the whole suite of products or just WLPG.
Best of luck in getting your pictures organized, categorized and tagged.