Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

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Advanced searching using the Navigation Tree

Advanced searching using the Navigation Tree

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In my last article, I gave an overview of the Nav Tree. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s dig deeper into some of the ways that a power user might use the Nav Tree to find their photos.


When you select a ‘parent’ node in the Nav Tree, all of the ‘child’ nodes get selected automatically, but did you know that you can also create multi-selections in the tree by control-clicking? This is the key to advanced queries in the Nav Tree.


If I have created a tag for photos of my Mom, and added that tag to all of my photos of her, I can find all of my photos of her just by clicking on that tag. But if I wanted to find only the best photos of her, I could do this by clicking on the ‘Mom’ tag, and then clicking on the ‘5 star’ node in the ‘Ratings’ section of the tree (assuming I had also rated all of my photos of her).


These multi-selections have different interactions depending on whether you select nodes of the same ‘type’ (e.g. nodes under the ‘Tags’ section of the tree are considered a different ‘type’ than the nodes under the ‘Date Taken’ section of the tree, etc.). If I select two nodes of the same type, I will see all photos that have either tag assigned (e.g. ‘Mom’ OR ‘Dad’). However, if I select nodes of different types, I will see only the photos that match both nodes (e.g. ‘Mom’ AND ‘5-star’). It sounds really confusing, but in practice, we’ve found that it matches user expectations most of the time. Here are a few examples:

  • Select a few tags corresponding to several family members, a date, and a rating: You’ll see all of the photos of all of those people, but only the ones that were taken on that date, with that rating assigned.
  • Select a folder and the ‘Videos’ node: You’ll see only the videos in the selected folder.
  • Select a date, and the ‘Not Tagged’ node: You’ll see all of the photos taken on that date that don’t have any tags assigned.

When you organize your tags (or folders) in a tree, it’s called a hierarchy. Not only does this help you to group similar items together, but it also helps keep the size of your tree manageable as you add more and more tags.


I created a top-level tag called ‘People’. Under that, I created a tag called ‘Family’.  I also have tags for friends and co-workers so I can find them easily. Under the Family node, I create more tags by last name to help me quickly distinguish between my own family, and my sisters and their families. Once I have this structure set up, I can easily see all of my family photos by clicking on the top level ‘Family’ node or only my sisters’ family by clicking on their node. I can drill in further to see photos of my individual nieces and nephews by clicking on the tags assigned to them.


It’s easy to create tag hierarchies, just drag and drop the tags around the tree to re-arrange them. This makes it easy for people to start small with their tagging efforts (just a few tags in a flat list), and grows with them over time as their list of tags gets longer and more complex.


The concept of hierarchies is no different from a folder hierarchy, but here you get the benefit of tags, meaning that you can always easily find the images or videos you’re looking for – you get the best of both worlds, the organization of folders with the easy use and searchability of tags!


Scott Dart – Program Manager