Windows 7 : Working with Scanners and Cameras (part 2) - Manipulating Pictures in Windows Media Player & Printing Your Masterpiece

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7/20/2011 11:28:58 AM

Manipulating Pictures in Windows Media Player

Unless you are a perfect shot every time you click the shutter, there will inevitably be times where the photos you take with your digital camera can use some touching up—anything from removing red eye to cropping out unnecessary portions of the photograph. Despite the fact that versions of Windows prior to Vista did not include this functionality for you (requiring you to purchase third-party software), Windows Media Player contains some tools that allow you to do basic image correction.

To fix a photo using the Touch Up tool, navigate to the photo inside Windows Media Player. Right-click on the image and select the Picture Details option. Now, click the Touch Up option and this will give you the following options to the left of the picture (see Figure 6):

Figure 6. Fixing a photograph in the Windows Media Center.

  • Red Eye— Enables you to select an area of the picture for the wizard to remove “red eye” (caused by the flash bouncing off the retina)

  • Contrast— Gives you a submenu allowing you to change the brightness and contrast of the picture

  • Crop— Gives you a highlighted frame within the picture, allowing you to “cut out” unnecessary picture elements

  • Preview— Allows you to take a closer look at the changes you’ve made before committing to them

Each of these tools automatically adjusts the aspects of the image for you. If you don’t like what Touch Up does, you can cancel the changes by clicking the Cancel button. If you want to save your changes, you will have no choice but to overwrite your existing image.

What’s New in Vista Is Old in Windows 7?

It’s somewhat difficult to reconcile the fact that Microsoft removed a lot of features from Windows 7 that were just added in Windows Vista, but that’s somewhat how Microsoft works. This isn’t the first time they figured out another way to handle something and just made the changes. The good news is that you can find the old Photo Gallery refreshed and reinvigorated in the new Windows Live software package, a free download for any Windows user. Windows Live offers you free web calling, email, instant messaging, an expanded word processor that also neatly works with common (and non-Microsoft) blogging tools, the new Movie Maker, and the Photo Gallery application, all tightly integrated with your online Windows Live account.

Don’t worry if you only have a Hotmail address or an old, and mostly dead, Passport. It will get you into Windows Live. Just keep in mind that there are other choices available. Google and Yahoo! Both offer a wide range of free and low cost tools which perform the same functions. Just because you’re using Windows doesn’t mean you are required to use Microsoft software.

Printing Your Masterpiece

Windows 7’s Slideshow feature can show you your digital photos immediately. How about instant prints from your digital photos? By printing the photos on your own color printer, you can have pictures as fast as your printer can produce them and get them in a variety of sizes.


If you haven’t used your inkjet printer for a week or more, or your printouts are of poor quality, click the Utilities tab (if available) and run your printer’s head cleaning or nozzle test options with plain paper inserted in your printer (take out the photo paper until you’re ready to print a good print). Head and nozzle clogs will ruin your printout and waste expensive photo paper, and most recent printers also offer a cleaning routine on this tab. If your printer doesn’t have a menu option for head cleaning, check the instruction manual for the correct method to use. You might need to press buttons on the printer to activate a built-in head-cleaning routine.

You can print photos from either the toolbar in a photo folder or the pull-down menu in a photo folder. To make prints from the digital pictures stored on your computer, simply select the photos you want to print (use Ctrl+click or Shift+click to select individual photos from the folder, or you can use Ctrl+A to select all of them) and click the Print button. This brings up the Print Pictures dialog box, shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7. Options for printing a picture.

From here, you can modify the options that control how and where the picture is printed. Above the picture you are printing, you can change the printer used, the paper size in the printer, and the print quality used. At the bottom, you can choose how many pictures are to be printed, as well as the option Fit Picture to Frame. If selected, this means that Windows will resize the picture so that it fills up the entire picture size selected on the right side of the window at the expense of cropping out some of the top and/or sides of the photograph. When deselected, it will print the original photograph in its entirety but will leave whitespace at the top and/or sides of the frame, where the photograph does not exactly fit the photograph size selected.

Along the right side of the Print Pictures window, you will see several options for how the printed photographs will fit on the paper selected. As you choose different finished photograph sizes on the right, the picture preview in the middle of the window will change to reflect how the photos should actually appear on the paper when printed, as reflected in Figure 8. If you choose fewer photographs than are available for the layout chosen, Windows will leave blank space on the photo sheet to conserve ink in your printer.

Figure 8. We are printing fewer pictures than are available in the format chosen, and thus Windows leaves blank spaces on the sheet.


For best picture quality, it is generally recommended to leave the Fit Picture to Frame option selected. If you want exact control over what is displayed in the picture, use the Edit picture option in Windows Pictures Library.

Poor Print Quality with Digital Photos

If you find that your digital photos look terrific onscreen but are poor quality when printed, there are three major factors that control digital photo quality—any of which could be the culprit:

  • Camera settings

  • Printer settings

  • Paper type

Get any of these wrong, and you won’t get the print quality you want.

Your digital camera should be set to its highest quality and resolution settings, especially if it’s a 2-megapixel or lower-resolution camera. Highest quality uses less compression to avoid loss of fine detail (more space is used on the flash memory card per picture than with lower quality settings), and highest resolution uses all the pixels to make the picture (again, requiring more space on the flash memory card per picture). If you use your camera to create pictures for use on the Web, the lower quality and resolution settings are fine, but printed pictures need the best quality available. Remember that your monitor needs just 96 dots to make an inch, whereas most inkjet printers put 600 to 1,200 dots into the same inch. So, a picture that’s just right to fit on the screen doesn’t have enough detail to print well.

Similarly, the printer should be set for the best quality setting that matches the paper type. If you’re planning to print “knock-’em-dead” digital masterpieces, be sure to use photo-quality paper and set the printer’s options accordingly. Just want a quick snapshot for the refrigerator? Use plain paper and set the printer for plain paper. Mismatch print type and paper type and you’re sure to have problems because inkjet printers calculate how much ink to use and how to put it on the paper according to the options you select.

Remember, high-quality printing takes time; several minutes for an 8×10-inch enlargement on photo paper with high quality settings is typical.

If your digital camera is only capable of 2 to 5 megapixels, it’s time to upgrade; 7 to 10 megapixel (also called 7–10MP) cameras are as cheap as ever and the storage needed to support those large images is also dirt cheap. You can generally find 8 to 16GB SD, xD, miniSD, or microSD (these sizes also add the term HC, or High Capacity, to the name) cards for as little as $30–$50. It’s all the more mind boggling when you realize that an 8GB microSD card, about half the size of a key on a laptop, can be had for as low as $20. So, before you start collecting more low-grade images of your family, take a gander at the $100–$150 offerings in the camera section at your local big box store. Make sure to pick up some storage cards at the same time.

Sharing Your Photos with Others Electronically

Windows Windows Pictures Library supports two methods of sharing your photographs with others without having to print them out—emailing and burning them to CD/DVD. This section touches on the first of these methods.


Windows Mail is no longer included in Windows 7. It is a part of the Windows Live software set, which you can download from Microsoft for free. It’s now integrated into Windows Live, but it still supports a wide range of email account types and advanced email management functions, including improved handling of email messages that include images.

Emailing photographs is straightforward; you select the pictures you want to email and choose E-mail from the toolbar at the top of the window. You are then given the option of resizing the files to a lower resolution to make them smaller and therefore easier to send to someone as an email attachment. The Attach Files dialog box defaults to 1024×768, which is a good standard size—however, you can size them to any resolution from 640×480 to 1280×1024, or choose to leave them at the same resolution as the source. Whichever resolution you choose, the Attach Files dialog box will give you the size in megabytes of the attachments.

After you have decided on a picture resolution, click the Attach button. Windows Pictures Library will then resize each of the pictures and open a new email message in the default email program (which, by default, is Windows Mail) with each of the photos as a separate attachment to the email. All that’s left to do is address the email, edit the subject and text, and click Send.

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