Windows 7 : Managing Pictures with Windows Live Photo Gallery (part 8) - Importing Images from a Digital Camera or Memory Card

12/24/2013 1:37:35 AM
6.2. Importing Images from a Digital Camera or Memory Card

When you plug in a compatible camera (via USB) or memory card (via a memory card reader), the Windows 7 Auto Play function will kick in by default, asking you what you'd like to do. Confusingly, there are two relevant options here: Import photos and videos using Windows and Import photos and videos using Windows Live Photo Gallery. The question of course is which one should you use?

You should use the Windows Live Photo Gallery version. That's because this importer includes one very important feature that is missing from the Windows 7 import option: it enables you to organize and group imported pictures and videos according to when they were taken. With Windows 7, everything you import is dumped into a single folder at the time of import, regardless of when the pictures were taken.

Beyond that, they both work similarly, but with two other minor differences:

  • First, the Windows 7 import option will actually copy videos to a subfolder in your My Videos folder by default, instead of putting them with your photos in My Photos; The Windows Live Photo Gallery import option, meanwhile, puts camera-based photos and videos in the same folders under the My Photos folder.

  • Second, the Windows 7 import option can be configured to open Windows Explorer to the folder containing the images you just imported when the import is complete. The Windows Live Photo Gallery option, meanwhile, can be configured to open Windows Live Photo Gallery when importing is complete.

Because Windows Live Photo Gallery is a complete end-to-end solution and offers vastly superior importing capabilities, we focus on that method here. So, without further ado, click Import photos and videos using Windows Live Photo Gallery from the Auto Play window. This runs the Import Photos and Videos wizard, which steps you through the process of acquiring your pictures. This is shown in Figure 30.

Figure 30. The Import Photos and Videos wizard does—well, you can guess what it does.

If you don't see the Auto Play dialog appear for some reason, you can open Computer, right-click the appropriate device, and choose Open AutoPlay. Or, from within Photo Gallery, you can simply click the File toolbar button and choose Import from a camera or scanner from the pop-up menu that appears.

The first time you run this wizard, be sure to click the More options link to configure how Photo Gallery imports your photos. This is very important, as the default importing configuration is sub-optimal. Figure 31 shows the additional options that appear.

Figure 31. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, before configuring Photo Gallery's import settings.

There are a number of important options in this dialog. Here, we list those options along with our advice for customizing them:

  • Import to: By default, Photo Gallery will import your photos to the Pictures folder. Typically, this is exactly what you want, but if you're really living the multi-user dream, you could consider importing them to Public Pictures (or another shared location). We leave it alone.

  • Folder name: By default, Photo Gallery will import photos into one or more folders, each of which is given the name you choose for the underlying photos. Say your digital camera has pictures from two separate events, a Disney trip and a birthday party. You might use the name Disney for the trip and the name Birthday Party for the party. But you can choose from a number of different options. We particularly like "Date Taken + Name," which would create folder names like "2009-08-01 Disney" and "2009-08-23 Birthday Party."

  • File name: By default, Photo Gallery will import photos using their original filename. This is completely unacceptable, and if you change nothing else, be sure to change this. Otherwise, your photos will all have names like "DSC_1234.jpg" instead of "Day at the beach 001.jpg." Which makes more sense to you? We recommend changing this to "Name" or perhaps "Name + Date Taken."

    As you make changes to the preceding three options, an example filename will change in the dialog to match the selections you've made. This will help you pick options that make sense for you.

  • Open Windows Live Photo Gallery after importing files: By default, Windows Live Photo Gallery will open after file importing is complete. This makes sense, as you will almost certainly need to edit, or "fix," many of the pictures you've taken. But if you don't wish that to happen, you can uncheck this option.

  • Delete files from device after importing: This option is unchecked by default, which makes sense given its destructive nature. However, you may want to delete files from the camera as they're imported.

  • Rotate photos during import: This option is checked by default, so Windows Live Photo Gallery will try to correctly rotate photos as they're imported. In our experience this works better with some camera models than it does with others, so your mileage may vary.

Once Windows Live Photo Gallery is correctly configured, click OK and you can begin importing photos. Note that you should always choose the first option in Import Photos and Videos, titled "Review, organize, and group items to import." That's because when you do so, the application will group your photos intelligently by event and create folders accordingly. Even so, you can still edit the groups to your preferences. It's really well done.

Once you select this option and click Next, the window will expand and you'll see the second section of this wizard, with photos grouped according to date and time. This is shown in Figure 32.

Figure 32. Here, you can determine exactly which photos to import and how they'll be grouped in folders on disk (and, logically, within Windows Live Photo Gallery).

Choose which groups of photos to import, using the check boxes on the left and the handy Select all button, and adjust the grouping using a simple slider (in which sliding to the left decreases the amount of time between groups, and sliding to the right increases the time). Even more important, you can provide a name and one or more tags for each group as you see fit. You can also click a View items link next to each group to ensure they're grouped exactly the way you want, as shown in Figure 33. (Finally, you can also contract each group again by clicking anywhere in the area above the photo previews.)

Figure 33 You can expand each group to see which photos will be included.

If you don't have enough room in the Import Photos and Videos window, you can resize the window accordingly. Just grab the lower right corner of the window with the mouse cursor and go to town, or click the maximize window button if needed.

Once you've named, tagged, and grouped everything to your heart's content, click the Import button and Windows Live Photo Gallery will import the photos you've selected to the hard drive and into your Windows Live Photo Gallery photo library. If the target folder structure falls within a folder in your Pictures library, they will be added to that library as well.

Even if you chose to not delete files as they're imported in the Import Options dialog previously, you can choose to do so on-the-fly every time you import photos: the import window includes an Erase After Importing check box for this very purpose.


You can also access the options for the photo import functionality by accessing the File menu in Photo Gallery and choosing Options. Then, navigate to the Import tab.

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