Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

Official blog for the Windows Live Digital Memories Experience team

Importing Photos with Windows Vista

Importing Photos with Windows Vista

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We all know that no one really wants to import.  We want to look at our pictures, enjoy them, share them, maybe even edit and organize them -- but not import them.  Importing is just a means to an end, and in Vista we focused on getting you to that end as quickly and painlessly as possible.  You’ll see a lot of changes from XP but don’t let that scare you off.  The first change you’ll notice is there is no longer a step to select your photos.  Before you decide that’s a bad thing read on about how duplicate detection prevents importing multiple times, how waiting to delete your photos until you are in the Gallery might save you from deleting a salvageable photo, and more.

Wireless support and more
One of the biggest changes to import is one you’ll never see.  We now use Windows Portable Devices to communicate with cameras and other device types.  Windows Portable Devices allows you to acquire more photos at one time, support more device types, and it also provides support for wireless.  A solution is on the way for those of you tired of dealing with all those cables every time you want to import.   Look for cameras that support wireless using Windows Portable Devices.

Duplicate Detection
Did you forget to erase your card after your last import and don’t want to re-import the same images again?  No problem, Vista has duplicate detection.  The Import Pictures and Videos experience recognizes files it has already imported and doesn’t try to import them again.  No need to make you go in and select the new pictures by hand anymore.

Recently Imported
In the Windows Photos Gallery you will see a node in the navigation tree labeled ‘Recently Imported’.  This scope allows you to quickly find all the photos you’ve imported in the last 30 days.  It’s always where you will find yourself immediately after import completes.  The Import Pictures and Videos experience ends in the Recently Imported view where you can quickly view, delete, organize, edit, and share you photos with just a few clicks of the mouse.  You might be used to deleting the duds in import but we think it’s worth the wait to acquire them and take a second look in the Gallery.  It’s hard to tell if a photo is really salvageable from a thumbnail.  In the Gallery you can look at your photo full screen and try our quick fix tools to see if the photo is really hopeless or no - it might just be worth saving.

The Import Pictures and Videos experience offers the ability to quickly add a relevant tag during the import process as a quick shortcut to get you started with your organization.  This may not be ideal if you are importing pictures from multiple events but not to worry, import will leave you in the Windows Photo Gallery which is the best place to do rich tagging and metadata based organization.  If you usually have more than one event on your camera when you import, you may want to suppress this option altogether.  To do so,  click on the Options link on the tagging screen of the import experience or open the Windows Photo Gallery, click on the File menu, click Option, and click the Import tab.  In Options you can uncheck ‘Prompt for tag on import’.  You might also want to change the file naming default to ‘Original File Name’.

Rotate on import
Ever wonder why we can’t just automatically correct rotation?  We wondered the same thing.  In Vista we look at the EXIF data in the file at import time to see if the camera has indicated that rotation is required.  If it is, we’ll go ahead and do that for you.  Don’t want the helping hand?  No problem, you can turn off the rotate feature in Options.  

File and Folder naming
Windows Photo Gallery makes it simple to find your pictures by searching and organizing based on tags you’ve entered.  However, there will be times when you need to browse by file and folder name to find what you are looking for.  By default we will use the date imported plus the tag (if provided) to create the folder name and the tag for the file name.  Not to your liking, not a problem.  You can customize the file and folder naming in the import Options.  Note that there is no way to import to multiple folders based on event at this time but we are looking into this.

If the above still isn’t enough, we’ve added plug-in support to import.  This allows 3rd parties, Microsoft, or even you to write custom plug-ins to extend import.  A plug in could be anything from a backup option, applying filters, or specialized file and folder naming templates.  Currently no plug-ins are available but we will keep you posted as that changes.  If you are interested in writing your own details will be available on MSDN soon, stay tuned and we’ll post a link when the SDK goes live.

- Ashley Averett, Program Manager