XP and your photos

Taking digital pictures is only half the fun. To make the most of your efforts, learn to back up, distribute, and order online.

One of the things I like about digital photography is that you don't have to use expensive software to get a lot out of your photos. The utilities included with Windows XP can help you upload, organise, search and edit your pictures. But that's not all it can do.

Once you've got your pictures properly named and neatly filed away on your PC, now would be a good time to back them up. This is the best way to ingratiate yourself with your loved ones in this modern age. When your stricken spouse rushes up to you, wailing, "the computer has exploded! All our pictures are gone forever" you can present them with a neat stack of backups - thereby winning their unending gratitude and admiration.

The quickest way to make a backup is to copy the files to a CD or DVD. That way, you not only have a duplicate to squirrel away in a safe place, but you can also avoid making copies of pictures for all the people who request them. Just burn them a CD and they can take care of the reprints themselves. The first step is to put a blank disc in your recordable drive, then open My Pictures (or whatever folder you keep your photos in) and select the folders or files that you want to copy.

Remember that an average CD-R or CD-RW will hold about 700MB worth of files, while a DVD-R can hold almost 5GB. To check beforehand how much space your files will take up, right-click the selected folders in question (you can select multiple folders by holding the < Ctrl > key and clicking on the ones you want), then choose Properties. It will then show you whether you will have room on your CD or whether you need to choose fewer files.

When you have the proper number selected, there are a couple of ways you can copy them. You can select "Copy to CD" or "Copy all items to CD" from the File and Folder Tasks pane on the left-hand side, or you can right-click on the selected files and choose Send To, and then choose your CD or DVD drive.

Both methods will start the process of copying them to a temporary folder and then to disc. Just don't forget to double-check the CD to make sure that it has copied correctly before you file it away.

Get physical

Having your photos in digital format on your PC is all very well, but sooner or later, you're going to want a physical copy of your work too - to put in your wallet, say, or to give to your computerless Granny.

To print an image, go to the folder where it is and choose Print Pictures from the task pane on the left. At the Picture Selection window, choose your pictures - the great thing about printing from your PC is that you can select multiple images to print at a time, saving on paper and ink. Choose Next and then select your printer and paper type. Choose Next again. At the Layout Selection, pick the size and number of prints that you want. When you're happy, simply choose Next to finish.

Another easy way to get prints is to order them online. Sadly, the Windows XP online photo printing wizard has no providers listed for Australia, so you'll need to find one manually. Online print services proved really handy for me during the first few months after my son was born, when it was hard to find the time and energy to get to a shop to drop off a memory card and then head back again to pick up prints.

There are a number of services available, though with some, like Big W's online photo bureau, you have to pick up your prints yourself. As I wrote this, however, www.megapixels.com.au was offering a free trial of their online print service (though the $3.95 postage cost still needs to be paid). The offer includes either five free 4x6in prints, or one 6x8in enlargement.

To use it, just head to their Web site and click on the Free Photos link at the top of the page. You'll be taken to an order page where you can pay the postage cost in advance and receive an order number. Then you just e-mail your images to the address supplied along with your order number, and they'll send you your prints in the post. Easy!

Located here is an image showing how to copy digital photos to CD using XP's CD writing wizard.

This image shows you how to check the size of your selected folders with Properties before copying them to disc.

Click here to view an image of www.megapixels.com.au.

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Susan Pederson-Bradbury

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