Office does photo management

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MS Office Picture Manager is a good choice of photo management software because many people already have the software even though they may not realize it.

By Helen Bradley

About two weeks into getting a new digital camera you’ll have discovered that photos, like wire coat hangers, have a habit of multiplying. Overnight you have folders stuffed full of images with unhelpful names like PRD0901.jpg etc. An organizer is required before everything gets too out of hand. I’ve tried and discarded a few but just recently I happened upon Microsoft Office Picture Manager – it’s stuck around for a few months and I’m pretty happy with how it’s working.

MS Picture Manager is used when our Editor-in-Chief, Peter Deegan gives his popular talks on digital photography on cruise ships. It’s a good choice because many of the audience already have the software even though they may not realize it.

UNEARTHING PICTURE MANAGER

Picture Manager is supplied with Office 2003 and you’ll find it buried away in your Start, All Programs, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Tools folder – small wonder few people know it’s there.

When you launch it the first task is to get it to find your images. You could choose File, Locate Pictures and select the places to search. However, I’m happy if the program merely takes care of my My Pictures folder so I chose File, Add Picture Shortcut and selected My Pictures as my parent folder and now I can see all pictures in that folder and its subfolders. Shortcuts aren’t the folder themselves but rather a link to the folder so you can remove them without disturbing the original folder contents. If necessary you can add other folders elsewhere on your computer if you need to.

You can view photos as thumbnails – use the slider to alter their size, as a Filmstrip or Single picture view. Rotate them using the rotate buttons and you’ll find the AutoCorrect button can do wonders in fixing some problem photos. If the results aren’t good enough, choose Edit, Undo and use the task pane options (View, Task pane) to adjust individual problems. In the Contrast and Brightness task pane you’ll see you can adjust not just Contrast and Brightness but also Midtones. The Rotate and Flip task pane lets you rotate by single degrees to straighten an image.

The Crop task pane offers common aspect ratios like 4 x 6, 5 x 7 etc that let you configure image sizes for typical photo printing papers and you can set these to Portrait or Landscape depending on your preferences. You can also resize the image or use the Compress Picture option to optimize the image for email or printing etc.

MOVING, RENAMING AND SAVING CHANGES

To move an image, select it and Shift + drag it to another location in the Shortcuts list. If you don’t hold Shift when you do this the image is copied not moved. The Rename task pane makes short work of renaming files and it does it by letting you add to or replace the existing filename, add sequential numbering starting at a figure of your choice and to do this at the end or the beginning of the filename – it also shows you a sample of the sequence so you can check it looks ok before making a spectacular mess of it all.

Any changes you make to your images are not saved but stored in a folder called Unsaved Edits. You can (and should), save those edits you’re happy with before you close the application – if you don’t, you’ll lose them. It’s often easiest to select any edited images you don’t want to save and right click and choose Discard changes. Then you can save the remainder by choosing File, Save All and the changes will overwrite the original files.

If you want to retain your original images but also save your changes, open the Unsaved Edits folder and choose File, Export and either save the copies in the original location with different names or in a different location. You can also choose a different save format to convert the files between formats.

INTEGRATE WITH OFFICE

You can drag and drop images from Picture Manager into any open Office program window or into another program like a real graphics editor. You can also send an image to a program by right clicking it and choose Send To and send it to an email recipient or to an Office document. You then choose the program to send it to and click Options to configure the size the image should be when sent. If the program you’re sending it to is not open, it will be launched automatically.

If you choose to print your images the Windows XP Photo Printing Wizard opens to handle the printing for you. This tool is capable of arranging multiple photos on a single sheet of paper so you can quickly print multiple standard size or even walled prints on 8.5 x 11 sheets using this tool.

Microsoft Office Picture Manager won’t suit everyone, however if you don’t have a photo management tool but you do have Office 2003, then it’s worthy of a look.

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