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.
Organizing your Gallery
You 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.
The order of sub-folders in a folder is not under user control, however the photos inside an album can be rearranged.
In 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.
When a thumbnail in an album is clicked, it will be shown large. The 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.
There are two easy ways of uploading photos to your SkyDrive albums. You can open the “Add files” dialog from folder view. Again there is a drag-and-drop option. Just drag photos from your computer to the “Add files” panel. They 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. Select 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.
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. Click “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. You 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.
You 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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