Windows Live Photo Gallery is Microsoft’s free program for simple photo management, a great choice for doing basic photo editing, viewing slide shows, and sharing photos online. It’s easier to use than the best-known consumer program, Adobe Photoshop Elements. (Almost everything is easier than Adobe Photoshop Elements. Quite a lot of rocket science is easier than Adobe Photoshop Elements. But I digress.)

Windows Live Photo Gallery was updated in February with some bug fixes and a few cool new features – get the latest version if you haven’t updated lately. (Click on Help / About and look for version 2009 (Build 14.0.8064.206).)

  • Be careful when you install Windows Live Photo Gallery! You’ll have the option to install other Windows Live programs; only install the ones that you are genuinely interested in. Watch the checkboxes – if you’re not careful, your Internet Explorer home page will be changed and you’ll get an unnecessary extra toolbar.

Microsoft provides 25Gb of free online space for your photos and displays them with attractive thumbnails. Once you’ve logged in with your free Windows Live ID, you can upload your photos in full resolution and share them by sending a link – no need for oversized email attachments. Click on Publish / Online Album and you’ll find it’s been made remarkably easy.

When you see a folder of shared photos online, there’s a new trick that’s worth noticing: all the photos in the folder can be downloaded to your computer in full resolution with a single click. Look at the top for “Download With Photo Gallery.” A wizard will start that will confirm which photos should be downloaded, then download them and add them to the pictures on your computer. It will automatically create a subfolder named after the online gallery in your Pictures folder – click on “More Options” in the lower left of the wizard if you want to change that.

Windows Live Photo Gallery header

If you’ve installed Windows Live Photo Gallery, you can test it on this collection of Windows 7 login screens and wallpaper. Not enough? Maybe you’ll like the wallpaper images that I’ve collected from all over the place – widescreen or square.

Try it!

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