Tips for editing pictures

You can use Windows Photo Gallery to make changes to your pictures. You can improve the exposure and colors, change the composition, and remove red eye—all without using a separate editing program.

Open Windows Photo Gallery by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking All Programs, and then clicking Windows Photo Gallery.

Follow the workflow in Photo Gallery

Digital workflow is a term used by digital photographers to refer to the order in which pictures are edited. Following the correct digital workflow can make a big difference in the quality of your edited pictures. The Fix pane in Windows Photo Gallery has arranged the various changes you can make in the best order, starting with exposure adjustments and ending with red eye removal. Though you can make changes to your pictures in any order, we recommend that you follow the workflow by working from the top of the Fix pane down.

Illustration of the recommended workflow in Photo Gallery
The recommended workflow in Photo Gallery

Why edit your photos in this order? Imagine, for example, that you want to correct the color balance in your picture. If the overall exposure is wrong (the picture is too dark or too light), it will be difficult to identify the correct color balance. Only by correcting the exposure first can you be sure the colors also look right when you reach that step.

Adjust the exposure and colors

You can edit the brightness and contrast in your picture by moving the sliders for those controls, but it's much easier to click Auto Adjust in the Fix pane. Auto Adjust optimizes the brightness, contrast, color temperature, and tint of your picture all at once. Even after you click Auto Adjust, you can continue to adjust the exposure and colors on your own if you don't like what Photo Gallery has done automatically.

You can confirm when you've made a change by looking in the Fix pane for the check marks that appear next to the control after it has been used to make a change.

Picture of the Fix pane with check marks indicating steps are complete
The check marks indicate that exposure and color have already been adjusted

If you're reluctant to click Auto Adjust, you shouldn't be. You can always click Undo to restore the picture to its previous state. Likewise, if you change one of the exposure or color settings and don't like the result, click Auto Adjust again to return to the setting that Photo Gallery recommends.

Make a black-and-white picture

Most digital cameras have an exposure mode that allows you to take pictures in black and white, simulating black-and-white film. As a general rule, though, we recommend taking pictures in normal color mode. The reason? While any color picture can be turned into a black-and-white image on the computer, if you take it in black and white to begin with, it's not possible to add the original colors back in.

In Photo Gallery, there's an easy way to simulate black-and-white photography, and it's actually a lot more flexible than the black-and-white mode on your camera. Click Adjust Color in the Fix pane and you'll see the Saturation slider. If you move the slider to the right, you'll increase the intensity of colors in the picture. What's more interesting, though, is what happens if you move the slider to the left. The intensity of color is reduced, and if you move it all the way to the left, there's no color at all—the picture becomes black and white. You can use this technique to create pictures with just a little color or no color at all.

Example of a picture with high and low saturation levels
A picture with high saturation (left) and low saturation (right)

Get creative—but preserve your original

Perhaps you want to change the composition of your picture from horizontal to vertical using some creative cropping. Or maybe you want to create a black-and-white version of a special picture. You can do all these things in Photo Gallery while keeping an unchanged version of the original picture. Before you start editing, double-click the picture, click File on the toolbar, click Make a Copy, and then click Save. This creates an identical copy of the picture in the Gallery, which you can preserve in its current form, or edit separately. And remember that if you ever want to undo all of the changes you made to a picture, click the arrow next to the Undo button at the bottom of the Fix pane, and then click Revert to Original.

Picture of the Revert to Original command
The Revert to Original command