Getting more out of your photos
STOP ME IF THIS sounds familiar: You take a
bunch of photos of friends, family or pets and copy
them over to your computer for safekeeping.
Perhaps you email the odd picture to a relative,
turn another one into wallpaper and print a third
for a photo album.
But for the most part, your computer has
become one big digital shoe box.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Your computer can do so much more than serve as a convenient storage solution for your captured memories.
With today’s programs, it’s easy to organize, enhance
and share your photos. And don’t worry: You won’t
need a degree in computer engineering to pull it
With so many photos stored on your computer,
you probably can’t easily find what you’re looking
for. After all, photos often have arbitrary names
given by a digital camera, such as DSC0547.jpg or
The first step is to download free computer
software that can help organize your photos in a
logical manner, so they’re easy to browse through
or find with an automated search.
Popular programs include Microsoft’s Windows
Live Photo Gallery (
explore.live.com) and Google’s
www.picasa.google.com). Both of these can
display your photos by month and year, as your
camera marks each photo with invisible coding for
date information as it is taken. (That’s why you are
asked to enter the current date and time when
you’re setting up your camera.) Photo Gallery and
Picasa can also show your photos as large thumbnails, so it’s simple to find what you’re looking for
at a glance.
If your camera or smartphone has a GPS chip,
your photos will be electronically stamped with geographical data. This enables you to see where the
photos were taken when imported into free mapping software such as Bing Maps or Google Maps.
Or you can easily tag a photo with the subject’s
name (such as “Maya”) and the software will scan
the rest of your photos and look for Maya’s face. Just
search for Maya and all photos with her will be
displayed. Alternatively, you can add captions to
your photos for searching purposes, such as “Ethan,
age 6, Mexico.”
Today’s photo programs make it
easy to edit your photos. With just a
few clicks you can remove the
dreaded red-eye, lighten or darken
a photo, enrich colors or crop out
unwanted portions of a photo,
such as little Jimmy giving
Grandma “rabbit ears” behind
If you’re feeling creative, you
can spice up your pictures by
adding fun special effects (often
called filters), which are included
with these software programs.
You can turn a snapshot into a
classic black-and-white or sepia-tone photo, for example. Or make
your photos look like an impressionist painting, a stained-glass window or
an Andy Warhol creation.
Store and share While it’s a good idea to store photos on your PC—as opposed to keeping them only on your camera’s memory card—it’s critical to make a backup of your irreplaceable photos in case some- thing unexpected happens to your computer. One method is to use the disc burner in your computer to save your images on disc—either CD
or DVD. A typical blank DVD will hold more than
1, 100 photos with an average size of 4 megabytes.
You can also purchase an inexpensive external hard
drive to copy all your photos, but be sure to keep it
or your discs in another location than your computer in case of fire or flood.
Increasingly, computer users back up their
photos to the “cloud”—that is, on a password-pro-tected website. A cloud solution such as Microsoft’s
Windows Live SkyDrive (
lets you access your photos and videos from anywhere in the world, on any number of devices, and
you can easily share select files with friends and
family instead of trying to send a large email with
attachments that can clog up someone’s inbox.
Other fun ways to share your photos are creating an entertaining slide show set to music (via the
aforementioned photo software), ordering keepsakes from online services (including a hardcover
photo album, mugs or jigsaw puzzles) or uploading
your images to online sites (such as Facebook or
For more photo tips, see page 34.
electronics or computers
you purchased at
Costco? Email them to:
Or mail to:
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
or fax to (425) 313-6718.
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
The Costco Connection
Costco.com also provides online storage for
photos to share and to create albums. In addition
to services offered at the Photo Centers (printing
photos, enlargements and more), the warehouses
and Costco.com carry a selection of external hard
drives and blank storage media (CDs and DVDs).
More in archives
On Costco.com, enter “Connection”;
at Online Edition, search
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MAY 2012 ;e Costco Connection