We’re huge fans of free photo editing. It’s tough to beat free. We’ve tried Google’s Picasa and their new Picnik, Adobe’s Photoshop Express and others. We didn’t think anything could beat Google’s Picasa, But Microsoft’s “Windows Live Photo Gallery” makes some things easier.

U.S. Grant talks things over with General McClellan

Ulysses S. Grant, right, talks things over with General McClellan

First off, it’s more organized. We always have trouble finding individual photos in our immense Picasa library. They’re scattered all over the place, which means we often put in duplicates without realizing it.  Picasa seems to duplicate photos like rabbits, and it takes forever to scroll through them all.  In Windows Live, duplicates are easy to find. They appear next to each other and you can delete the ones you don’t want.  You can also find and remove duplicates with a free program called “VisiPics.” It finds them no matter where they are in your computer.

Windows Live Photo Gallery is a free download from To get it, you first, sign up for a “Windows Live” ID. Then click “do more” to find downloads, and click “photo gallery” to get the free photo editor.  The program handles still photos and videos. If you choose “Make a Movie,” it moves still shots to make them appear in motion and also offers you the opportunity to add videos and music.

Once installed, you’ll see options along the top of the screen. Click “publish” to send photos directly from the Windows Gallery to Flickr and other online albums. Choose “more services” to add Facebook to the list of destinations. Highlight groups of photos and click “email” to send them all as attachments. Windows Live will ask if you want to send them in the original size or something smaller. You have a choice of several sizes. Click the “fix” button and then “auto adjust;” to improve pictures. Click “red eye,” “straighten,” etc. to fix problems one at a time. Click “Make” to burn the pictures to a DVD, make a movie, slideshow or post them to a blog.

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