Are you looking for a Microsoft Office Picture Manager alternative? While there are hundreds of photo editing software available for download, you don’t have to look elsewhere or spend a dime for basic photo editing tools. Windows Live Photo Gallery has almost the same set of tools like the former, except that it’s free and has syncing/publishing features.
Microsoft introduced Windows Live Photo Gallery in 2012 as part of the Windows Essentials, and a stable version was released in January 2014 that runs in Windows 7 and Windows 8 operating systems. It’s considered a good alternative to Microsoft Picture Manager for editing and managing photos.
Installing the freeware
You may search for “Windows Live Photo Gallery” in your system to see if it’s already installed, otherwise go to the Windows Essentials page and download it.
Import photos and videos
Windows Live Photo Gallery allows you to import photos and videos from devices (smartphones, tablets, video cams, etc.) via USB port except for, guess what? … iOS devices.
I tried to refresh the “Import Photos and Videos” box to see if it will detect my iPhone, but to no avail. However, when I connected my Android device, it was detected after a few seconds. You must also include folders in your system manually for the library of your photos.
Basic photo editing tasks
The editing features are almost the same with the Microsoft Picture Manager, allowing you to crop, rotate, resize, adjust the noise, color and exposure as well as apply effects and retouching. The changes are automatically saved, but you can revert to the original photo anytime.
in “Edit” mode, it doesn’t support the right-click “Resize” option, unless the photos are in thumbnails format at “Home.”
With Windows Live Photo Gallery, you can organize multiple images and add tags – “People tags”, “Geotag”, “Caption” and “Descriptive tags.” You’ll find the metadata on the right side of screen for more information.
There’s an option called “Batch people tag” that allows you to select the faces and identify them quickly. Other photo management features include the “Flagged” option, “Text search” and “Rated” photos for quick search.
Additional features for creating new images
The software supports add-on editing features such as Panorama stitching – images should have the same scene to overlap (e.g. landscape). On the other hand, the “Photo Fuse” requires you to have two or more images taken with the same vantage point, subjects, and lightning to align them.
Try the “Auto Collage” and select seven or more images to see the random arrangement, but it doesn’t support borders and frames. You can create order prints, add photos to blog posts (via Windows Live Writer) and embed photos to your Movie Maker file. More tools are available for free aside from the abovementioned features by downloading the following plug-ins:
- Image Composite Editor
- Microsoft Research Cliplets
- Picasa Web Publisher
- Publish to Photo Frame
Share options for social media
Share your photos to friends and followers via Flickr, Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube, and Live Messenger, and upload them to OneDrive for backup. To publish your photos to these channels, Photo Gallery requires authorization to each account.
Note: You may also download other freeware photo editing desktop apps. As the saying goes, “The best things in life are free,” but when it comes to free software, the worst things you can get are adware, malware, and spyware if you don’t do your homework, so make sure you download the safe ones from legit sites only.
As a writer, most of my photo editing tasks for blogs and write-ups include: resize, compress, and crop. Windows Live Photo Gallery is a good alternative to Microsoft Office Picture Manager for those activities. It also supports Slideshow and lets you change the theme while watching. However, another caveat I found is that you can only edit photos in JPEG format. The solution? If it’s a screenshot in PNG format, click the “Make a copy from the Manage group.”
What do you think of Windows Live Photo Gallery?