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Free Photo Tools
By James Wise
posted June 15, 2009
TECH TIPS – In today’s world, many of us
are using digital cameras to take pictures of our family, trips,
events, and more. Quite often our skills or cameras aren’t at a
level. In that case, some simple editing might be in order such as
redeye removal, sharpening, straitening, among other tools. Recently, a
reader wrote to ask about suggestions for a photo editing program. In
today’s column, I wanted to offer a couple of different options for
this: Picasa and Windows Live Photo Gallery. Both of these programs are
free and offer some easy to use tools for photo editing, organization,
To start out, let me explain that while both of these programs offer
Internet based services, they are in fact programs running on your
computer. So, if you don’t have a high speed Internet connection, don’t
worry. After you have downloaded the program, you don’t need Internet
access unless you want to use things like online photo sharing or order
Picasa is a free Google product which integrates Google’s Picasa Web
Albums for online photo sharing. You can download Picasa from
After you install the program, it scans your
computer for picture files and shows thumbnails of them. To edit a
picture, simply double click the picture to enter edit mode. From here,
you can use various tools like redeye removal, photo crop, contrast
adjustment, etc… You can also manually tune aspects of the photo and
apply effects like changing a photo to black and white.
Another helpful tool is “tagging” photos. Tagging allows you to add
information to photos. This can really help with searching. For
example, you could tag photos that have your mother’s picture with the
word “Mom”. On her birthday, you might want to give her something with
these pictures. So, you can search for “Mom” in Picasa to see all the
pictures with that tag. To apply a tag, just hit the tag button located
on the toolbar at the bottom of Picasa (just above the print button).
You can enter one or more tags per photo. You can select multiple
photos by clicking the first photo, holding down the ctrl key, and
clicking each additional photo. An important note is that the tags you
enter in Picasa are available even within other programs that support
tags (like Windows Live Photo Gallery).
You can create an album of photos as well. Just select any pictures you
may want to include in the album, right click, and choose “add to
album.” You can select an existing album or create a new album.
If you want to share your pictures with others, you can select pictures
or albums and then upload them to Picasa Web Albums with the upload
button on the bottom toolbar (or by right clicking the photo or album).
You can also use Picasa to create a CD with your pictures by clicking
the “Create Gift CD” at the top of an album or folder name. If you want
to order professional prints of your photos (or other items like cups,
t-shifts, mouse pads, etc…) you can use the “shop” button on the
toolbar at the bottom of Picasa.
Picasa has other nice tools as well like collage, movie, screensaver,
Windows Live Photo Gallery is part of Microsoft’s “Windows Live” group
of services and programs and offers its own online photo sharing site.
You can download Windows Live Photo Gallery from
This program works in much the
same way as Picasa with many or all of the same features noted above.
There are really so many options available with these programs that I
didn’t have time to cover them in detail in one column. Instead, I
decided to give you a brief overview of some things these programs have
to offer. If you would like more details about how to do anything with
either of these programs, just email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)
and I’ll be happy to help. In future columns, we may take a more
detailed look at some of these features, especially the web sharing
While these programs may not offer the complex editing capabilities of
paid software like the excellent, but high priced and sometimes
complicated to use, Photoshop, I believe they offer some great and easy
to use features for an impossible to beat price.
© Copyright 2009
original material is property of
EdgefieldDaily.com and cannot be reproduced, rewritten or redistributed
without the expressed written permission of Edgefield Daily.com
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