Create a professional photo album today

Digital pictures are easy to take and easy to share, but sometimes what you really want is a printed photo album to share with friends and family. With just a few simple steps, you can arrange your pictures and order a professionally printed book from your favorite photo-printing company.

Step one: Gather your pictures

At first, it might seem overwhelming to sift through your pictures and choose the ones you want in the album. Windows Photo Gallery makes it easy for you to look through all of your pictures and mark the ones you want to use with a tag. This is similar to going through shoe boxes full of photos and setting aside the ones that you want to use. When you're done, you can collect all of your tagged photos, sift through them a few more times to refine your collection, and include the ones that make the final cut in your album. To get started, open Windows Photo Gallery:

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

Picture of Windows Photo Gallery
Windows Photo Gallery

Now look at each picture and decide whether it's a candidate for the book—don't worry if the picture isn't perfect, you'll be able to fix it later. When you find a picture that you want to use, tag it with a unique phrase (for example, photo album). Tagging your pictures will help you find them more easily later. Here's how to add tags:

To tag your photos

  1. In Photo Gallery, select the picture that you want to tag or select multiple pictures so you can add the tag to several of them at once. To select more than one picture, hold down the CTRL key while you click the pictures.

  2. Click the Info button Picture of the Info button in Windows Photo Gallery to open the Info pane.
  3. In the Info pane, click Add Tags, type the tag you want to use in the box, and then press ENTER. The tag is added to all of the selected pictures.

    Picture showing how to add a tag to pictures
    Select pictures and then type the tag name

Once you've created a tag name, you don't have to type it again every time you want to tag another picture. To add that tag to another picture, drag the picture to the tag.

Picture showing how to add a tag by dragging a picture to the tag
Drag pictures to a tag to add the tag to those pictures

After you go through your pictures and tag all the candidates for your photo album, it’s time to collect them. In the Navigation pane, click the name of the tag that you used earlier and all of the pictures that you tagged earlier appear.

Now that you've gathered the pictures that you want to put in the album, you'll make them look their best.

Step two: Make your pictures perfect

Sometimes a picture would be perfect if only it wasn't so dark, if it didn't have that distracting person in the background, or if someone's eyes weren't glowing bright red. You can fix these problems by adjusting exposure and color, cropping the image, or removing the dreaded red eyes.

Look through the collection of pictures that you've tagged for your photo album and decide which ones need some help. Click the first picture that you want to change, and then click Fix. The Fix pane appears and displays the following five options:

  • Auto Adjust. Automatically changes the exposure and color settings at the same time.

  • Adjust Exposure. Use this to change the brightness and contrast of the picture.

  • Adjust Color. Use this to change the color temperature, tint, and saturation of the picture.

  • Crop Picture. Use this to change the proportions, zoom into a picture, or remove undesirable parts from the edges of the picture.

  • Fix Red Eye. Use this to remove red eye caused by your camera's flash.

If you don't like the result of a change, don't worry, just click Undo.

Go through the rest of your pictures and make any changes that they need. Taking just a little bit of time to edit your pictures now will make your finished album look even more professional. For more information about editing pictures using Windows Photo Gallery, see Tips for editing pictures.

After choosing and fixing your pictures, it's time to choose a publisher so that you can get those pictures into a beautiful album.

Step three: Choose a publisher

Many online photo-processing websites give you an option to create a professionally bound photo book. It's surprisingly easy—you upload your photos and design the pages, then the company prints your book and mails it to you. The most tricky part is finding the printing company that's right for you: there are a lot of publishers and all of them have slightly different options, prices, and quality levels. It's a good idea to look around before you decide what company to use. Here are a few things to think about when choosing a publisher:

  • Do you already use a company to order prints or scrapbook supplies? If you already have a relationship with a company that prints albums and like the quality of their work, you might want to go with them.

  • Where do you want to work on your album? If you want to work on your album when you're not connected to the Internet, choose a publisher that lets you download software and arrange the album on your computer. If you prefer to work on your project on different computers or if you want to collaborate with someone else on the project, choose a publisher that lets you upload your photos and work online.

  • How do you want the album to look? Publishers offer different sizes, cover options, paper choices, and page background images. Make sure that the publisher you pick has the options that you want.

  • How much do you want to pay for the book? For some people price alone is the biggest factor, but it's a good idea to think about how you'll use the book too. Do you want an inexpensive book that you can show around at the family picnic and not worry about food stains, or do you want something printed on archival-quality paper that you can pass on to future generations?

To help you get started finding a publisher, here are a few of the many companies that can print albums for you:

  • Shutterfly

  • MyPublisher

  • Kodak EasyShare Gallery

  • Creative Memories

  • Snapfish

To find more publishers, search the Internet.

Once you decide on a publisher, the fun part starts: making your album.

Step four: Make your album your own

Below you will find a few tips that might make working on your album a bit easier and more fun. Keep in mind that each publisher has different software and a slightly different process for creating and customizing photo albums, so check with them for specifics.

Make it easier to upload your photos. If you need to upload your pictures to a website, create a new folder on your computer first, copy all of the pictures that you want to use into that folder, and then upload them to the website. That way, you can choose to upload every picture in the folder without having to select the pictures one by one. If you copy the pictures to the new folder (rather than moving them there), you can simply delete the new folder after you're done uploading the pictures. Your original photos remain in their original directory. Doing this can be a little bit tricky, but it's worth it if you need to upload a lot of photos at one time. Here's one way to do it:

To copy tagged photos to a new folder

  1. In Windows Photo Gallery, right-click Pictures in the navigation pane, select Create Folder, and then give the new folder a name, such as Pictures to upload.

  2. In the Navigation pane, click the name of the tag you marked your photos with earlier, press CTRL+A to select all of the tagged pictures, and then press CTRL+C to copy the pictures.

  3. In the navigation pane, right-click the name of the new folder that you created, and then select Paste. All of your photos are copied to the new folder.

You don't have to do it all at once. Even if you only have a few minutes, get started on your project now and finish it later. Work on it when you have time and save it often.

Be creative. Most publishing companies provide a template with suggestions for page layout and backgrounds. This can be quite useful when you start the project, but feel free to change this template to suit your needs. Many publishers let you customize almost every aspect of the book by choosing how many pictures to put on each page and adding text, frames, or backgrounds. Adding text to your album is a great way to tell a story or identify the people and places shown.

Another way to make the album even more personal is to add your own drawings or images of mementos such as playbills and ticket stubs. To include these images in your album, you can either take pictures of them with your digital camera or scan them. For more information about scanning, see Scan a picture.

Preview your album before you order it. Pay close attention when you preview and adjust the album so that it's just perfect before ordering it.

By taking just a little time to choose, fix, and arrange your photos, you can create a great looking photo album that shows off your pictures and reminds you of the special moments in your life. As an added bonus, it's easy to create multiple copies of the same album to give as gifts.