Windows 7 : Managing Pictures with Windows Live Photo Gallery (part 12) - Using Photos as Slide Shows

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8.1.3. Using Photos as Slide Shows

Finally, one of the neatest, if underappreciated, features in Windows Live Photo Gallery is its ability to create attractive photo slide shows. While Windows 7 offers a simple slide show capability via the shell, the slide show functionality in Photo Gallery is far more impressive.

To see it in action, just navigate to a favorite collection of pictures in Photo Gallery then click the Slide Show toolbar button. Photo Gallery prepares a full-screen photo slide show, as shown in Figure 48.

Because this slide show feature utilizes the underlying hardware-accelerated Aero features in Windows Vista, there are a few caveats. First, performance can be somewhat abysmal, particularly startup performance, if you're trying to trigger a slide show with too many photos on a low-end PC.

Second, the Photo Gallery slide show support offers a variety of themes, some of which are quite attractive, but not all of these themes are available on all systems. Those with low-end graphics hardware may only see a handful of themes, while those with a decent PC with 3D graphics hardware will have a choice of several themes. All of these themes are available from the Themes button on the floating navigational control that appears onscreen during slide show playback if you move the mouse around.

Figure 48. Photo Gallery Slide Show offers impressive-looking slide shows on capable PCs.

Here are the two basic slide show themes you will see on virtually any PC:

  • Classic: An old-fashioned slide show with no panning or zooming effects. Transitions are non-existent, and new images simply pop onscreen.

  • Fade: Similar to Classic except that new images fade in as the previous image fades out.

Most PC users should see the following additional themes as well:

  • Pan and zoom: Inspired by the default slide show in Windows Media Center, this slide show animates images across the screen, panning and zooming each image.

  • Black and white: Similar to Classic except that the images are shown in grayscale and utilize a fade effect.

  • Sepia: Similar to Classic except that the images are shown in a sepia color scheme and utilize a fade effect.

If you're running Windows 7 Home Premium or higher and your PC utilizes 3D graphics hardware, you have several additional themes, including Album, Collage, Frame, Glass, Spin, Stack, and Travel. Each is attractive and worth investigating. The Travel theme is shown in Figure 49.

Figure 49. The Photo Gallery Slide Show provides various themes.

If you click the gear icon in the floating navigation bar in Photo Gallery, you see a variety of configuration options, including three speed-related options (Slow, Medium, Fast), Shuffle, Loop (repeat), and Mute.

That last bit is interesting because it suggests that there's some sort of integrated music playback option, a typical feature of most photo slide show options. This is misleading and then some. Unfortunately, there's no way to automatically kick-start a soundtrack for your slide shows with Photo Gallery Slide Show. Instead, you're expected to manually start playing the music of your choice and then start the slide show. If you select the Mute option in Photo Gallery Slide Show, it will globally mute any audio playback on your PC.

Click the Exit option in the floating navigational toolbar to end a slide show. Alternately, you can tap the Esc key to end a slide show.

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