Preserving Originals in Windows Vista Photo Gallery

Preserving Originals in Windows Vista Photo Gallery

Windows Photo Gallery is one of my favorite new features in Windows Vista. Its Fix menu features cropping to both traditional paper sizes and widescreen proportions suitable for HDTV and widescreen displays, easy color adjustments, and effective red-eye repair. For a full-color tutorial on the Fix menu's many features, see my article Easy Photo Editing with Windows Vista's Photo Gallery (PDF format). It's part of Que Publishing's Microsoft Windows Vista and Office 2007 Resource Center.

Trouble in Imaging Paradise

Windows Photo Gallery automatically saves changes (unless you undo them) when you move to the next picture, and there's the problem.

If you're serious about digital imaging ("fanatic about digital imaging" also works), you should treat your original digital photo (whether you shot it with a digital camera or scanned it from a traditional print, negative or slide) as a "digital negative." You should never alter your digital negative, and you should always save changes to your digital negative to a different file.

So, if Windows Photo Gallery saves crops and other changes automatically, how can you preserve your images in their original condition?

Keeping Your Originals Safe, the Hard Way

Sure, you could create a backup folder of your photos, but that's a pain in the neck (and could consume huge amounts of disk space, especially with today's 7MP and higher-resolution cameras). Besides, you probably don't want to (or need to) edit every photo.

What if you use Windows Vista Ultimate, Enterprise or Business editions? The shadow copy service (part of System Restore) or file and folder backup may have backed up a previous version (available through the Previous Versions tab on the file's properties sheet.

Keeping Your Originals Safe, the Easy Way

But, wait a minute! If you just downloaded the file from your digital camera, a previous version isn't available yet. And besides, if you're using a home edition, no previous version for you!

No matter what edition of Windows Vista you use, here's an easy way to save the changes you make with Photo Gallery without dinging your original photo:

  1. Open the picture in Windows Photo Gallery
  2. Open the Fix menu and make all of the changes you want (cropping, color correction, exposure settings, and so on)
  3. Right-click the edited picture in Photo Gallery and select Copy
  4. Use the Pictures Explorer to navigate to the location you use to store edited photos
  5. Right-click an empty area in the folder and select Paste to save the edited picture to the location you selected in Step 4.
  6. Return to your picture in Photo Gallery, open the Undo menu and select Undo All to remove all of your edits.

There. Now you can edit away, and you still have your original photos. It's a good feeling: a digitally good feeling.

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rhsquad

Nick

Yea, what about Picasa, that is a GREAT (free) photo-editing software... If only microsoft could make an update, wink wink, for Vista and add the features... hmm?

MICROSOFT, ARE YOU LISTENING?!?

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robster353

Great advice. I recently edited a few of my photos and later wished I had kept the originals. Then I discovered Google's photo organizer, Picasa. You can do some light touch-up work, and when you save the changes, the app automatically saves the originals in a convenient "originals" folder. Nice. Not to mention plenty of other nifty tricks, such as geotagging your photos to Google Earth (great for vacation photos) and publishing photo albums to the Web. I'm using Windows XP, but there's a version of Picasa for Vista as well.

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