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Windows 7: How to manage photos, videos & media

Get more from Windows' new multimedia features

The methods for photo and video importing, editing, and exporting have been all updated in Windows 7. We look at how to get started with these and other entertainment features of Windows 7.

Control media streaming on your local network

Windows 7 simplifies the process of local streaming with the help of HomeGroup networking. You'll let only trusted devices into your HomeGroup (your local network), and they'll have unfettered access to media files.

You can manage these settings within the HomeGroup section of the Networking and Internet Control Panel, including deactivating checkboxes if you want to share only certain kinds of media files. Your Documents folder, for example, remains private by default.

You can turn on streaming in the Networking and Internet Control Panel, too: Select Stream my pictures, music, and videos to all devices on my home network.

Otherwise, you can activate local streaming within Windows Media Player: Select Stream, Automatically allow devices to play my media.
Then choose Automatically allow all computers and media devices.

Networked libraries will show up under the 'Other Libraries' heading within Media Player and Photo Gallery.

Play DVDs and Blu-ray discs within Windows 7

Most Windows 7 editions include the codecs for natively playing back many standard video formats, including .mov, DivX, and DVDs. (Starter and Home Basic omit this extra.)

If you want to watch a movie, just pop in a DVD and start it with AutoPlay options, or within Windows Media Player or Windows Media Center.

Blu-ray discs don't work natively in Windows 7, so you'll have to add Blu-ray-capable software, such as CyberLink PowerDVD or ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre.

You can watch high-definition discs within those playback applications, or you can launch Blu-ray discs from within Media Center. (Media Player only works with DVDs.)

Activate Media Center after installing the necessary third-party software; then navigate to the heading, and activate that third-party option.
If it's the first time you've played a Blu-ray movie, the extra software may still launch to complete installation.

Otherwise, you can watch the Blu-ray disc from within Media Center.

Home entertainment advice

NEXT PAGE: Activate Windows Media Player lightweight playback mode

  1. We show you how to get more out of Windows 7's new multimedia features
  2. Get Windows Live Essentials
  3. Publish a Photo Gallery online
  4. Import photos and videos into Windows Live Movie Maker
  5. Publish movies to YouTube
  6. Control media streaming on your local network
  7. Activate Windows Media Player lightweight playback mode

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