Using SkyDrive as your Photo Gallery

Windows Live SkyDrive offers a lot of storage for photos and documents. Recent improvements make organizing albums and folders much easier. SkyDrive is not designed to be a photo sharing service, but with some care you can present your gallery in a pleasant manner and make it fun to visit.

Here are some tips for making your gallery a nicer experience for your visitors.

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Organizing your Gallery

imageYou can have folders with sub-folders in SkyDrive, so one album page can lead to others. Recent changes now allow “root location” folders to be moved to any other folder or sub-folder. This makes organizing and re-organizing your gallery quite easy.

Right-click on a folder tile to get a drop-down menu with various options. One available choice is Move to. This allows you to move the folder to any other folder.

imageThe order of sub-folders in a folder is not under user control, however the photos inside an album can be rearranged.

imageIn the right pane, click Arrange photos to go to the “Arrange photos” page. If you have Silverlight installed, this is just a drag-and-drop procedure.

The alternate procedure is just a little more time-consuming. Each thumbnail is shown with a text box below showing a number that indicates the current order. Just replace that number with the new location order.

imageWhen a thumbnail in an album is clicked, it will be shown large. imageThe information pane on the right can be turned off with a click on the “Collapse” chevron.

The right pane also offers a “Play slide show” option. All this can make your album and entire gallery a nice experience for visitors.

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Uploading photos

There are two easy ways of uploading photos to your SkyDrive albums. You can open the “Add files” dialog from folder view. imageAgain there is a drag-and-drop option. Just drag photos from your computer to the “Add files” panel. imageThey will start uploading as soon as you release the mouse button.

Here too, there is a manual method that opens a standard “Open” dialog where you can navigate through your libraries and folders and select the photos to upload.

The second way of uploading is directly from Live Photo Gallery. There is a serious limitation in this method. You can upload photos only to albums in the root of your SkyDrive. You cannot upload to subfolders.

The procedure is simple. imageSelect the photos and click the SkyDrive icon in the Share group on the Home ribbon. Photo Gallery opens a dialog that connects to your SkyDrive. You have to sign in if you are not signed in to Photo Gallery.image

The upload dialog shows your albums so you can select the one to upload to. You may even see other albums that you are permitted to upload to.

You can also create a new album right in this dialog.

Another option is to specify the size of your photos. If they are larger than this specified size, the photos will be scaled down to this size. The default is 1600 pixels on the larger dimension. For most uses this is just fine. You can select “Original” in this dialog to upload photos in their full size. There are uses for that, but that is the scope of this article.

 

Providing a path to your gallery

Now, unfortunately, comes the part that is a “downer”. There is no short, easy to remember, web address for SkyDrive albums. One way to inform your friends of the album and provide them with a link is with an email. This can be done right from the SkyDrive album.  imageClick “Share folder” under the Share group in the information panel on the right.

As you can see in the illustration, there are a number of options. Besides sharing with an email you can post to Facebook and other social networks and to get links that you can distribute separately.

For the email option just enter the recipients’ email addresses. You can include a message in the email. Note that the “Recipient can edit” check box is already checked. Normally you want to uncheck that. imageYou can also require that the recipients sign in to their Windows Live account to view your album. Not something you want to require when just casually sharing photos.

The recipients get a pretty email that looks like the illustration here (the recipients address has been removed). The email contains a “View photos” link that takes the visitor right to the album in folder view with the pretty tiles of the photos. In fact, clicking on any thumbnail in the email opens the browser right to that photo in large view.

imageYou can copy the URL of the photos or the folder. These are very long and ugly, as you can see in the illustration. You definitely would not want to type out such a link. Better to stick to the pretty email. If the album is public, that is shared with Everyone, the email can even be forwarded to others.

My suggestion is this: Set up one folder as your “gallery”, organize you photos in subfolders. Share your gallery with “Everyone” if you want public access. Private albums should go into a separate folder or folders with more restrictive sharing. Note: You can share individual photos. However the visitor will have access to other publicly shared photos and albums.

If you want a public gateway to your gallery consider setting up a blog. Here in this blog post you can see how links to your gallery could be set up:

Using Live Writer as your blogging tool offers a number of ways to show album links. Above is just one example.

.:.

© 2011 Ludwig Keck

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Photos and Albums in the new SkyDrive – sharing and downloading

With your photos stored and arranged in Windows Live SkyDrive the next step is to share your memories and treasures. SkyDrive is not al all like so imagemany other photo sharing sites that are the equivalent of galleries or museums for visitors from far and wide. For example, Flickr lets you explore photos from artists around the world. While flickr.com/ludwigkeck gets you to my photos on Flickr, there is no equivalent address for SkyDrive. SkyDrive is a very private place, there is no easily memorized address to your gallery. You can specify who can see your photos in great detail, yet sharing requires action on your part. You must invite your friends to come and see your photos.

Sharing: Send a link

You do this for albums, not individual photos. imageIn your album view there is a Sharing section in the information pane on the right. It shows who the album is shared with, in the illustration here that is Everyone (public). There are three links for initiating sharing: Get a link, Send a link, and Embed.

The most straightforward is Send a link. Click Send a link and the next page provides a form for sending an email. image

Just enter one or more email addresses in the To: field and any optional message you like,  click Send and SkyDrive sends the email. What do your friends see? They receive an email that looks like this:

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The email your friends receive identifies you and the album you are sharing. It includes the message that you specified. There is a thumbnail of your “cover” photo and a link “View album”.

Actually the thumbnail also provides the same link. When the link is clicked a window opens that takes your recipient right to your album. Of course, it has to download the images, so it takes just a bit of time. Here are illustrations of that process:

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This is really Windows Live Photo Gallery displaying the photos. Your friend can step through the photos, select from the thumbnail bar at the bottom just the photo to display, or choose one of the options on the top menu bar:

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Full screen, of course, provides a screen-filling view of your photos. Thumbnail view is a gorgeous display of the thumbnails over a darkened image of the photo being shown.

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imageClicking Download brings up the Windows Live Photo Gallery import dialog. The recipient can select just the photos to download.

On opening, all the thumbnails of the photos in the album are checked. Making a customized selection is straightforward.image

imageThe download process takes a bit of time, as you would expect.

Now how does a recipient see the album if he or she does not have Windows Live Photo Gallery installed? The link in the email will take them to the album using the default browser.

This looks just as it does when you are signed in to your Windows Live account except that the visitor does not have links for making changes to the album or SkyDrive.

Sharing: Get a link

The Get a link command opens a page that imagedisplays a text box with an URL. The message says: Copy this link to share. You can click the word Copy or click in the text box and press Ctrl+C. The link is placed on your clipboard and you can then paste it into an email. The URL is way to long to copy by hand.

This link takes the recipient to the album in a browser.

Sharing: Embed

imageThe third sharing option is Embed. This also takes you to a page with the information. In this case the text box contains HTML code. The headline says “Embed … in a blog or other webpage”. Unfortunately the code specifies an “iframe”. This code style is not recommended, and in fact not allowed on some blog sites. For example, if uploaded to a WordPress.com blog, the code will get stripped out. So for many, this code is next to useless. My recommendation is to not use this.

Other concerns

When you give someone access to one of your SkyDrive albums, you are in effect giving them access to all your public folders and other folders shared at the same sharing level. imageimageThat little arrow in a circle in the upper left of your photo presentation allows your visitor to go to album view. The path to the album is shown and allows the visitor to click on any path item. And hence to any other public folder. Obviously public folders are there for visitors, but do keep this in mind.

More download options

imageIn “SkyDrive view” when viewing a photo, the information pane shows a Download link. This link initiates a download of the photo. The download is done to the folder where downloads are normally stored.

imageIn album view, where all the thumbnails are displayed,  the info pane on the right, shows additional options (shown here on the left).

The link “Download with Photo Gallery”, works as described above, allowing your email recipient to select which photos to download. The Download link runs the normal file downloader. See the illustration here.image

Note that the album will be downloaded as a compressed ZIP file. If there are any sub-albums in the album, they will be included in the zip file.

Your friends can enjoy your photos as long as they keep your notification email. SkyDrive is not like a public gallery, more like an attic in your house and your guests are not totally free to come and go. That is the nature of SkyDrive.

.:.

© 2011 Ludwig Keck

 

Photos and Albums in the New SkyDrive – organizing

Organizing your photos is an important part of getting your SkyDrive albums just right to show of your work. This means creating albums, moving photos from one album to another and re-arranging the order of the pictures inside an album.

With the many recent updates to SkyDrive the methods and tools for these tasks have changed, so here is a review of these procedures.

Albums in SkyDrive should preferably be arranged in a “flat” hierarchy – no albums inside albums. SkyDrive-16Although putting an album inside another is easily done, you cannot upload from Windows Live Photo Gallery to an album that is inside another. The sharing settings of an album will also apply to any sub-albums inside, this might not be what you want. When viewing photos you can step only through the pictures in the current album, there will be no indication that a sub-album is available.

That said, albums inside albums will show slide shows of their photos on their tiles – charming to say the least.

Creating an Album

You create an album in SkyDrive that is located in the current album of folder. See Photos and Albums in the New SkyDrive – uploading for details on creating an album and uploading photos.

Moving and Copying Photos

Moving photos from one album to another in SkyDrive is fairly easy for one photo. Unfortunately, there is no way to select multiple photos to be moved, so the procedure has to be repeated. imageClick on a photo imageyou wish to move, it will be shown large. If you don’t see the info pane on the right, click on the left-pointing arrow in the upper right. In the info pane are a number of links. To move a photo to another album, click Move. If you wish to copy a photo to another album, so that you will have the photo in the current album as well as in the destination album, click Copy. The remainder of the procedure is the same for moving or copying. The next page presents a list of all the folders and albums on your SkyDrive. Click on the destination album. If that album contains more albums, you will see them on the next page. SkyDrive-17SkyDrive-18

Note the choices: Move this file into …, New Album, and if there are additional albums they will also be shown. You can create a new album at this step. Click the Move this file … (or Copy this file …) when the desired album name is shown. After a short delay, while the action is performed, the destination album will be opened.

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Above the thumbnails you can see a message describing the action just performed. You can also see the path of the current album. Click on the a album name in the path or SkyDrive to get to another album.

Move an Album

imageYou can move albums around just like photos. In album view, when thumbnails or the contents list are displayed, the info pane offers a Move command. This works just like the move process for a photo, except that the entire album can be moved to another album. You cannot copy an album – something not normally needed anyway.

NOTE: This is not available for primary albums, only for albums inside albums.

Rename an Album

Note that there is also a Rename command to change the name of an album.

Delete a Photo

imageWhen a photo is displayed by itself, the info pane also offers a Delete command. This works just as you would expect.  A delete confirmation is required, there will be a message dialog about like shown here. It advises that you are about to permanently delete an item from your SkyDrive and you have the option to click OK or Cancel.

Delete an Album

imageWhen in album view showing thumbnails there is not a delete command option in the info pane. I have wondered if this is intentional or an oversight. imageThe procedure for deleting an album requires an couple of additional steps. Above the thumbnails in the upper right area, there are a couple of icons, one offers Thumbnail view, the other Details view. Click the Details view icon. You are now presented with a list of the contents of the present album (or SkyDrive). Move the pointer to  the album that you wish to delete. While the pointer is on the item line, to the right of the entry there is a “Show information” icon, image . Click this icon. The info panel will provide information for this album and also include a Delete command.

Arrange photos

You may wish to arrange the photos into a particular order. In SkyDrive is is easily accomplished. Any time you are in an album the info pane includes an Arrange photos command. If you have Silverlight installed and are using the 32-bit Internet Explorer or another browser, a very neat drag-and-drop method is available.

With the pointer over the thumbnail you wish to relocate, just press down on the left mouse button and drag the thumbnail to the desired location. Note how the thumbnails move apart to make room for the newcomer. The thumbnail in the original position will fade out.

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There is another method. It is the only one with 64-bit Internet Explorer or if Silverlight is not installed. It may also be the only method by the time you read this, as continuing changes to SkyDrive are released.

You can also bring up this alternate method by clicking “standard arrange photos page”. This method may seem complicated at first view. Each thumbnail has a number and you need to renumber the order. It is easier that it appears.

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The instructions are to number the photos in the order you’d like them to appear in your album. Note the number of the photo where you want to place another photo. Then replace the number in the number box of the photo to be moved – it is a plain text box, you know how to replace and type text. In the illustration here, I want photo 6 in place of photo 5. So I enter 5 in the box of photo 6. Press Enter and the photo instantly is relocated and the thumbnails are renumbered. The procedure is not as pleasant as drag-and-drop, but just about as fast.

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After the thumbnails are in the order you like, click Save.

SkyDrive is a bit different in the way things work, but after some practice you will be proficient in organizing your photos so you can show them proudly.

 

.:.

© 2011 Ludwig Keck

 

Photos and Albums in the New SkyDrive – uploading

Many changes have been made to SkyDrive and the way you use it. Instead of rolling out a new version, updates have been released piecemeal and more can be expected. This article reviews how to use SkyDrive for your photos as it works in August 2011.

There are two ways to upload photos to your Windows Live SkyDrive: From SkyDrive – I call that pulling up, and from Windows Live Photo Gallery – my term is pushing up.

Uploading in SkyDrive

imageEven signing in has changed, so let’s start there.

When you go to home.live.com there is standard sign in with text boxes for your Windows Live ID and password. No longer can you select an ID from several choices. There is a “Keep me signed in” check box so you will be signed in automatically next time you open your browser.image

On your Windows Live Home page the menu bar now includes SkyDrive. The drop-down menu offers choices for Documents, Photos and more. You can just click on SkyDrive and it takes you to a view of all of your contents. The contents may be shown as a list of “tiles” – small thumbnails. Tiles of photo albums play slide shows of the contents.

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As the illustration here shows, document folders are depicted as folders. Each tile also shows the name of the folder or album. Click on an album tile to open the album.

imageIt still is not possible to upload a folder with contents. You create an album or a folder by clicking the little folder icon above the contents listing.

To add photos, navigate to the folder where you wish to add files and click Add files.

If you have Silverlight installed a page opens that invites you to drop photos into the folder. This works beautifully. Open Windows Explorer to the pictures folder you want to upload. In Windows 7 you can clip Windows Explorer to one edge and the browser to the other and just drag the thumbnails from one to the other. You can select multiple photos and drag the “pile” over.

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imageNote that there is a size control option in the upper right of the folder page. The default upload size is 1600 pixels (max dimension). You can also specify  that the photos are uploaded in their Original size or a small size called Medium (600px).

Upload actually starts when you drop the thumbnails. Once your selection is complete click Continue and allow the process to finish.

If you do not have Silverlight installed, or if that option is no longer available on your computer, you will see an upload page that looks like this:

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When a Browse button is clicked a “Choose File to Upload” dialog opens. Unfortunately, only one file can be selected at a time, so you have to go through this multiple times.

Uploading from Windows Live Photo Gallery

A much easier way to upload is the other method which uploads photos from Windows Live Photo Gallery. You do not need the browser open, but it works best when you have selected “Keep me signed in”. Similarly you should sign in to Photo Gallery – this too is “sticky” and you will not need to do it each time.

Select the photos you wish to upload. Remember that Ctrl+A will select all the photos being displayed. Then click on the SkyDrive icon in the Share group of the Ribbon (Home tab).

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Caution: Be sure that you have selected just the local folder from which you wish to upload. You can inadvertently select photos from multiple folders and they will wind up in just one SkyDrive album.

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A “Publish on Windows Live SkyDrive” dialog allows you to select the destination album. The first choice allows you to create a new album.

You can specify who can see your photos in a new album. The default is Everyone (public).

As with the other method, you can specify that the process resizes your photos or uploads in the original size.

Click Publish to  start the actual upload process. On completion you will be offered to view the SkyDrive album.

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imageDid you know that you can clip your SkyDrive to your Windows 7 taskbar? Drag the little SkyDrive icon that shows in front of the URL in your browser down to the taskbar and release. You can also release it on your desktop for a shortcut. With SkyDrive on your taskbar it is just one click away.

 

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© 2011 Ludwig Keck