Windows 7 : Managing Pictures with Windows Live Photo Gallery (part 6) - Using People Tags, Searching for Pictures in Photo Gallery

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5.4. Using People Tags

We've saved the best metadata functionality in Windows Live Photo Gallery for last, and think you'll agree that this is both the most interesting and potentially the most productive way to tag your photos. It's called people tags. People tags help you identify the people in your photos and then create tags for each. So you might create a separate people tag for each member of your family, each friend, and any other individuals you care about. Once you do this, it's a breeze to find the pictures you really care about.

This section explains how it works.

5.4.1. Creating People Tags

First, you need some people tags. Here's one example of when signing into your Windows Live ID account can save some time: if you did so, you will see a number of people tags ready to roll in the Navigation pane. There will be one called "Me (your name)" and then one or more groups, depending on how you may have configured contacts via Windows Live People, Windows Live Contacts, or Windows Live Messenger. If you have logged on via Windows Live ID, you may already have a number of people tags, pre-made and ready to go.

If not, or if you'd like to manually create people tags that exist separately from any contacts (say, for children or others who are not part of your Windows Live "network"), you can create one or more people tags right here in Photo Gallery. These people will be added to a new group under People Tags called Other People.

To create the first people tag, click the Add a New Tag link below People Tags in the Navigation pane and start typing as shown in Figure 21. Then, repeat this for each people tag you'd like to make.

Figure 21. You can easily add a list of people tags in Photo Gallery.


The People Tags section in the Info pane also integrates with your Windows Live contacts, so you might use this instead if you're a Windows Live guy or gal: click the Add People Tags link and start typing; as you do, contacts from Windows Live contacts auto-fill so you can easily find who you're looking for.

5.4.2. Adding People Tags to Photos

Next, you can add a people tag to a photo. It's best to do this while viewing the photo, not in thumbnail view. Double-click on the photo you'd like to tag. Then, click the Tag Someone link in the Info pane, below People Tags. When you do so, an Add People Tag balloon help window appears, asking you to click on a face in the photo. You can either click in the center of someone's face, or you can draw a selection rectangle around a face using the mouse cursor. When you do, the Tag Someone palette pops up, letting you choose which person it is from the list of people tags you've created. This is shown in Figure 22.

Figure 22. Select the face, and then select the People Tag that matches.

You can scroll down the list to find the correct person, or just start typing. As you do, the list of people tags will filter based on what you type. Obviously, you can add multiple people tags to a single picture, as you might with a group shot, so you can stay here and add more people tags, move to the next photo, or exit back to the Photo Gallery view when you're done.

5.4.3. Other Fun with People Tags

There are a number of other fun things you can do with people tags.

First, you can identify yourself using the "That's me!" link that you'll see in the People Tags section of the Info pane when a single photo is selected. When you click this, Photo Gallery will attempt to put a selection rectangle in front of each face in the photo, as shown in Figure 23. Click the one that's you, and the people tag that was automatically created for your Windows Live ID will be applied.

Figure 23. Hey, I wonder which one of those people is me.

You can also use a facial recognition feature to automatically identify when there are people in pictures. To use this feature, open a photo in Photo Gallery that includes at least one person. Then, click the Identify link next to Person found in the Info pane. Photo Gallery will put a selection rectangle over each person's face, giving you the opportunity to tag them.


To be clear, Photo Gallery's facial recognition feature recognizes only that there are faces in photos, not which person is which. What did you think this was, Star Trek?

As it turns out, some technology companies are beginning to push actual facial recognition. The first major company to do so was Google, which added a feature called name tags to its Google Picasa Web Albums service in 2008. This service actually will attempt to automatically identify people by their faces, though of course it works better when you manually identify a large number of people first. Our expectation is that Microsoft will add true facial recognition to Windows Live Photo Gallery, and the online service Windows Live Photos, in the future too.

Finally, since users were previously using plain old tags to identify people in photos before it launched the people tags feature, Microsoft added a way to convert descriptive tags to people tags. To do so, locate the tag you'd like to convert in the Descriptive tags list in the Navigation pane. Then, simply drag it up to the People Tags node. As you do so, a "Convert to descriptive tag" badge will appear alongside the dragged tag, as shown in Figure 24.

Figure 24. People-oriented descriptive tags can be brought into the twenty-first century via drag and drop.

5.5. Searching for Pictures in Photo Gallery

Adding metadata like tags, ratings, and captions is nice for filtering the current view, but you can also use these and other metadata to search for specific pictures from within Photo Gallery in the same way that you search for documents and other files in Windows Explorer.

Not coincidentally, this metadata also factors into shell-based searches as well from within Windows 7. When you add metadata to a digital media file, it can be used from virtually anywhere, assuming the application or service is aware of such information.

To search for pictures in Photo Gallery, simply type a search phrase into the search box located in the upper-right corner of the application window. If you tagged certain pictures with a tag such as vacation, for example, you could use that phrase to find all your vacation pictures. But you can also search for text in filenames and captions. In Figure 25, you can see a filtered view that includes the results of a search.

Figure 25. Searching in Photo Gallery is similar to searching in the Windows 7 shell.


As with shell-based searches, searching via Live Photo Gallery is nearly instantaneous, so you will see search results appear as you type. By default, it searches in the current view, so if you've customized or filtered the view in any way, that will affect the search results. To search your entire photo library, click the See Other Options drop-down arrow to the right of the search box and choose Search All Items in Photo Gallery from the drop-down menu that appears.


Notice anything missing? Unlike with the Windows shell, there is no way to save searches inside of Windows Live Photo Gallery. There's no elegant solution to this, but you could apply a descriptive tag to a search result set (or any combination of filters and searches) to retrieve it later. Say you have 200 photos with the tag "Paris" but would like to segregate your very favorite Paris photos so that you can enjoy them in a slide show, a DVD movie, a movie, or wherever else. What you can do is Ctrl+click the ones you like best and then apply a new descriptive tag, perhaps Favorites or Paris Favorites just to those. That way, you can always get back to your favorite Paris photos simply by selecting the appropriate tag from the Descriptive Tags section in the Navigation pane.
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