Windows Me too

Digital cameras are hot these days. So it's no surprise that Windows Me includes better support for digital cameras and an amped-up Windows Explorer that showcases graphics much better. But these features aren't unique to Windows Me.

Digital camera dealings

THE WINDOWS ME WAY: Sick of the so-so software provided with your digital camera? Under Windows Me, you can ditch it by running a new Control Panel wizard that registers your camera as a My Computer icon. You can then treat your camera like any other removable storage device: in Windows Explorer, you can view the contents (complete with thumbnails), delete pictures you don't like, drag and drop the ones you do like onto your hard drive, send pictures as e-mail attachments, and so forth.

THE WINDOWS ME TOO WAY: Windows Me is great if you're in love with Windows Explorer. If not, try the Adobe ActiveShare approach. This free download deals directly with digital cameras, too, adding drag-and-drop file management (including copying, backing up to a Zip drive, and direct e-mail delivery). ActiveShare can also help you touch up your snapshots. Is a picture too dark? Filled with red-eye? A few clicks, and these gaffes are history.

Your images, at a glance

THE WINDOWS ME WAY: Windows Me pumps up Windows Explorer in several ways - and the most eye-catching are those that deal with graphics. Open a folder full of GIFs and JPEGs and pick the Thumbnail view to see little previews of all the pictures, not just of one you've selected (as in Windows 98).

THE WINDOWS ME TOO WAY: Thumbnail views in Explorer - what a great idea. But what happens when you click the images? GIFs and JPEGs will probably open in Internet Explorer, and .bmp files will open in Paint (ick!). A better option for graphics preview and management is a free app from Ulead Systems called Ulead Photo Explorer.

Whereas ActiveShare wants you to import pictures into its album before you can see and work with thumbnails, Photo Explorer is happy to work with your images right where they are. Start this sucker up and pick a folder, and you're previewing all the images it contains. Double-click a particular shot, and you'll see it in its full-size glory. At this point, you can rotate the image, convert it to a different format, or make it your desktop wallpaper.

Like Adobe ActiveShare, Photo Explorer can download pictures directly from your digital camera and offers some online picture sharing services. The only catch with Photo Explorer: after 30 days, the program loses its ability to create .gif and .tif images (which are covered by patent restrictions) unless you pay for product registration. Other image formats remain fully available to you for as long as you keep the software.

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