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Relaxing with Windows 8’s Photo and Entertainment Apps : Enjoying Photos (part 4) - Using the Camera App

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Using the Camera App

As with other mobile, touch-based systems, Windows 8 includes a simple Camera app that works with the camera (or, in the case of some modern devices, the cameras) that is included in (or attached to) your PC or device. This app lets you capture still pictures and short movies. It’s not quite as useful as, say, a camera in a smartphone, but it’s there if you need it.

The first time you run the Camera app, you’ll be prompted to allow the app to use your webcam and microphone. Obviously, you must allow this for the app to function. If you block this access, the app will simply quit.

The Camera app, shown in Figure 18, is simplicity itself. There’s an app bar, always visible in this app, with just a handful of buttons.

Figure 18: Dashing! The Camera app

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Available app bar buttons include:

  • Change camera: On PCs or devices with multiple cameras, the Change camera button will let you choose which camera to use. For example, many Windows 8 and RT devices include both front- and rear-facing cameras. This button works like a toggle: Tap it once to change the view to the next camera.
  • Camera options: Click this button to see a pop-up display with three options that will be consistent across all Windows 8 PCs: Photo/Video resolution, Audio device, and Video stabilization, though not all options will be configurable on all PCs. You can also click a More link here to view additional camera options. What you see in that interface will vary from PC to PC, but some of the more common options include Brightness, Contrast, Flicker, and Exposure.
  • Timer: This button acts as a toggle. When selected, the next photo or video you take will be preceded by a 3-second countdown, giving you time, perhaps, to jump into the frame.
  • Video Mode: This button also works as a toggle. By default, Camera is set up to take still photos. But if you enable this button, it is set up to take videos instead. Tap it again to return to camera mode.

Keyboard users can tap Space to take a photo or start/stop video recording.

To take a photo with Camera, simply tap (or click) anywhere on-screen. If you’re in video mode, this will start video recording instead. To stop recording, tap (or click) the screen instead.

Photos and videos taken with Camera can be found in the Camera Roll photo, which is added to the default save location for the Pictures library (My Pictures, by default).

Doing More with Your Pictures

The Photos app is fine for what it is. But it doesn’t have any photo editing features at all. Its photo acquisition features are lackluster at best. And if you want to share photos via an online service that’s not supported by a Metro-style app that’s savvy to the Share contract, you’re out of luck on that count as well.

For these and other slightly more advanced scenarios, you’ll need to turn to the Windows desktop. Here, you’ll find some features that are built into Windows 8 directly, and a few that will require some optional and free Microsoft applications that may or may not be installed on your PC or device.

Since these capabilities haven’t changed since Windows 7, we won’t go into great depth here. But we’ll provide you with a rundown of the applications you can use, and for what activities, and help you find any missing applications that may not be included with your Windows 8 install.

Built Into Windows 8: Photo Viewing on the Desktop

Windows 8 includes an admittedly well hidden desktop application called Windows Photo Viewer that lets you view individual photos and perform other photo-related functions. Windows Photo Viewer is odd in that you can’t actually find the application via normal means—it doesn’t appear in the All Apps view or even via Start Search. But you can access Photo Viewer by right-clicking an image file from the desktop and choosing Open with and then Windows Photo Viewer.

As you can see in Figure 19, this application provides print-, e-mail-, and disc burning-based ways to share photos and a handy but simple slideshow feature courtesy of that large button in the lower middle of the window.

Figure 19: The Windows Photo Viewer application provides basic features related to viewing and sharing photos from the Windows desktop.

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You could also make Windows Photo Viewer the default photo-viewing application if you wanted. To do so, right-click an image file and choose Open with then Choose default program, and then pick Windows Photo Viewer from the list that appears. Or, use the Default programs control panel (via Start Search).

Or don’t. Because there’s a better option for desktop users . . .

Completing the Windows 8 Photo Experience with Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery used to be called Windows Live Gallery, and it was previously available as part of a suite of apps called Windows Live Essentials. The application carriers forward, minus the Live branding.

If you’re looking for a more versatile tool that can do it all when it comes to photos— photo acquisition, viewing, editing printing, e-mail sharing, burning to disc, tagging, captioning, geotagging, advanced slideshows, sharing with numerous online services including SkyDrive, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, panoramas, and more—look no further than Photo Gallery. This amazing application, shown in Figure 20, is everything you need, all in one place.

Figure 20: Photo Gallery

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If you’re in a pinch, Microsoft Paint, included in Windows 8, also provides some basic photo-editing features.

Photo Gallery is the full meal deal, and because it provides a superset of the features available in a basic Windows 8 install, we recommend using it over the built-in tools.

How to Find Photo Gallery

The only problem with Photo Gallery is that you may not find it on your PC or device. If that’s the case, browse to windows.com, where you’ll find this and other useful Windows applications.

Other  
  •  Windows 8 : Accessing System Image Backup and Recovery Functionality with Windows Backup, Cloud Backup
  •  Windows 8 : Using the Windows 8 Recovery Tools (part 2) - Push Button Reset
  •  Windows 8 : Using the Windows 8 Recovery Tools (part 1) - Creating a System Recovery Disc, Booting to the Windows Recovery Environment
  •  Windows 8 : File History (part 2) - Recovering Documents and Other Data Files with File History
  •  Windows 8 : File History (part 1) - Enabling and Configuring File History
  •  Windows 8 : Storage Spaces (part 4) - Advanced Storage Spaces: Three-Disk Configurations
  •  Windows 8 : Storage Spaces (part 3) - A More Resilient Space: Two Disks, Two-Way Mirroring
  •  Windows 8 : Storage Spaces (part 2) - The Most Basic Storage Spaces Configuration of All: One Disk, One Space, No Resiliency
  •  Windows 8 : Storage Spaces (part 1) - Getting Ready for Storage Spaces
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