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A look at Windows Live Photo Gallery

October 31, 2010



Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011 is the newly updated photo management software from Microsoft that aims to simplify the tasks of organizing, viewing and sharing your photos. I have been using the application since its beta version and I am happy to say it does exactly what it promises.

WL Photo Gallery integrates beautifully with Windows 7 by taking advantage of the Operating System’s libraries features. All your files can be easily organized via this library system that gathers all your files from various locations across your computer and collects them into one neat location. This works well for photo organization , allowing you to pool all your photos into the photo library. WL Photo Gallery simply reads this library and your photos shows up organized within the application. A huge plus of this system is that any changes you make to the library is automatically reflected in Photo Gallery, that is- you can add, remove, rename photos manually outside the app and it is immediately updated in the software. It works both ways as well, editing the data within Photo Gallery the changes are also reflected in the actual files.

So how does Windows Live Gallery actual make your life easier?


Microsoft has implemented the “Ribbon” interface, their modern take on the previous  archaic pull down menus. The ribbon is an absolutely useful design that provides quick, intuitive access to the necessary tools in photo management. You can tag photos, edit them via some quick pre-set settings or search photos by name, tagged person or folder. A myriad of other great options are in the ribbon too, like different ways of sorting photos via folder, dates, geotag or ratings. You can order prints from your favorite printing company, send photo emails in nice collages and easily add meta data to keep your photos in order.

The Cool things about WL Photo Gallery

Sharing is easy!


What I really like is how easy sharing photos in WL Gallery is. You simply click on the Facebook, Flickr or SkyDrive icon in the ribbon and after initial account setups your photos are whisked away to the cloud. The really cool deal with Microsoft and the cloud is that they’re really pushing it with the SkyDrive service. Every Windows Live account gets 25gb FREE online storage for your files. You can send your photos to Windows Live SkyDrive and set privacy permissions to selectively share your photos and so on. You can add other online services too via downloaded plug-ins.

Photo tagging is actually fun!

You have option to either individually tag or batch tag people in your photos. If you choose the batch tag option, all the untagged faces are presented to you and you basically “name the person”. What’s uber cool is that if you use the Windows Live suite of software that includes Mail and connect it with Facebook, you can easily tag your Facebook contacts as well!


Tagging works pretty well with the suggestions being mostly accurate. As you can see it even recognized me even as Captain Jack Sparrow for Halloween and asks if the photo is Seon M? The ribbon contextually changes to reflect the actions I can take such as confirm the photo is me etc.

Photo Editing is simple and useful for the average user

WL Photo Gallery is not meant to be a replacement for professional software like Lightroom and Photoshop. However for quick retouches to photos, it is pretty good. The usual fare such as the  ability to adjust exposure, color, noise and details as well as red eye reduction are well done. Selecting the “Fine Tune” option will allow you to manipulate the details yourself by sliding a bar across for effects. It is all very simple and easy to use. image

A while back I took a look at Google’s Picasa Photo software and I loved and used it, but Windows Live Gallery really integrates wonderfully with Windows 7 while providing great features the amateur photographer can use without being intimidated.

Windows Live Photo Gallery is a free download from Microsoft available as part of a package of pretty great software called Windows Live Essentials. Check it out here.

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