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Organize Your Photos

Taleh asked the Digital Cameras & Camcorders forum to recommend a good photo organizer

Taleh asked the Digital Cameras & Camcorders forum to recommend a good photo organizer.

Two programs dominate the field--Microsoft's Photo Gallery (formerly known as Windows Live Photo Gallery, and before that, as Windows Photo Gallery) and Google's Picasa. Both are excellent, and free.

They also share many features. For instance, both can use the tags (sometimes referred to as generic or descriptive tags) built into the .jpg file format. If you use the camera in your smartphone, either program can identify where the picture was taken. They both use face recognition algorithms to help you identify friends and family. They both allow you to touch up your picture, not only cropping it but also fine-tuning exposure. And when you want to share your pictures, both will upload them to appropriate sites.

Unfortunately, you need to pick one or the other and stick with it. Gallery and Picasa are nowhere near as compatible as they should be--especially when it comes to people tags (the ones that use face recognition). You may want to play with both programs a bit before deciding which you'll keep.

But I'll tell you my preference. I use Photo Gallery, for one simple reason: It makes those generic tags hierarchal--like folders on a hard drive--allowing you to better organize your photos. For instance, I have a Hawaii tag inside my Travel tag. To Picasa and other programs (even Windows Explorer can handle these tags), it's a single tag called Travel/Hawaii. But to Photo Gallery--if I select the Show tag hierarchy option--it's the Hawaii tag inside the Travel one. That makes a lot more sense.

Note: I have blurred out faces and names in some of the images in this article to protect the privacy of my friends and relatives.

Read the original forum discussion.

Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema. Email your tech questions to him at answer@pcworld.com, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum. Follow Lincoln on Twitter, or subscribe to the Answer Line newsletter, e-mailed weekly.

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