Win 9x - Add editable text to your bitmap images

Do you sometimes receive faxes on your computer, or photos via e-mail, that you need to comment on and return, or forward to someone else? Or perhaps you've created a simple slide show and you want to add text to serve as titles or to provide promotional or instructional information.

If you don't have a graphics program with capable text or annotation features, you can use the annotation tools in Windows' Imaging program. Its tools are far superior to Microsoft Paint's for editing text and other graphic objects, without damaging the underlying bitmapped image.

Launch Imagining

To launch Imaging, choose Start-Programs-Accessories-Imaging. If you don't see Imaging on the menu, you can install the program: choose Start-Settings-Control Panel, double-click Add/Remove Programs, and click the Windows Setup tab. Select Accessories and click Details. Check the box next to Imaging, click OK, and follow the prompts on screen. If you use Windows 95, you may have to download Imaging from Microsoft (unfortunately, this version is not as functional as the version for later flavours of the OS). Go to and search for Imaging using the Keyword Search feature. Be sure to specify Windows 95 as the operating system.

Choose File-Open to add text to an existing image; or choose File-New, and on the New Blank Document dialogue box's File Type tab, select TIFF Document (TIFF). Click the Color tab and select 256 Colors or True Color (24 bit). Next, click the Size tab, choose Custom from the bottom of the Size drop-down list, and select Pixels from the 'Units' drop-down list. For Width and Height, specify a size that matches your screen resolution. (If you're not sure what that is, right-click the desktop and choose Properties. Click the Settings tab and look for the dimensions of your screen area in pixels; 800x600 and 1024x768 are common examples.) Now click OK.

Choose File-Save As, and make sure TIFF Document (*.tif) is selected in the 'Save as type' drop-down list. Saving in the TIFF format lets you edit the text and graphics you add without ruining the underlying image. It also enables the annotation tools you'll need for adding text.

Add Text

Now use the annotation toolbar (located at the bottom of the screen) to add text to your image. If you don't see it, choose View-Toolbars, check Annotation, and click OK. (For older versions of Imaging, try Annotation-Show Annotation Toolbox.) Set the properties of the drawing and text controls to the font and colour of your choosing: right-click any button, choose Properties, adjust the settings, and click OK. Select the text tool, drag to create a box that's large enough for one or more lines of text, and then begin typing. You can use the other tools to add boxes, lines, and freehand shapes. The Annotation Selection tool (the plain pointer) moves, resizes, and deletes objects. Newer versions of Imaging let you edit text added previously by double-clicking it, which returns you to text-editing mode. In older versions, you must select the text box, delete it, and then create the desired text.

The editable text saved with images in the TIFF format may not show in the preview area of Explorer folders (depending on your version of Windows) or in Windows Me's slide show mode (see this month's Windows Me column for details on how to use the slide show feature). You have to "burn" the text and other objects onto the image. Save the editable TIFF file in a separate folder for future updates, then choose Annotation-Make Annotations Permanent to burn the text in. Now choose File-Save As and save this burned-in version with your other slides. The TIFF format is preferable to the BMP format because it's more compressed. Use the fax format (AWD) only if you're merely marking up a black-and-white image; AWD doesn't preserve colour and doesn't work with Windows Me's slide show mode.

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