Whether or not you activate Media Library Sharing for Windows Home Server's Pictures folder, you can still use this share as the central repository for some or even all of your family's photos. The next few sections take you through a few techniques that should make the shared Pictures folder easier to work with.
Customizing the Pictures Share with a Template
When you access your user account's Pictures library (in Windows 7), Pictures folder (in Windows Vista), or My Pictures folder (in Windows XP), you see a few features that aren't part of the regular folder view, as follows:
- You get access to image-related file metadata, such as the date an image was taken and the image dimensions.
- In Windows 7 and Windows Vista, the task pane includes extra commands such as Slide Show and E-Mail.
- In Windows XP, the task pane includes a Picture Tasks group with links such as View as a Slide Show, Order Prints Online, and Print Pictures.
These extra features come from a special template that Windows applies to this type of folder. However, when you access the Windows Home Server Pictures share, Vista and XP treat it just like any other folder. (In Windows 7, if you access the Pictures share through the Pictures library, you get the extra image-related features; if you access the share via the Network folder, you don't see those features.) If you want access to the extras that you see in the local Pictures (or My Pictures in XP) folder, follow these steps to customize the Pictures share to use a picture folder template:
- Open the folder containing the Windows Home Server shares.
- Right-click the Pictures folder, and then click Properties to open the folder's property sheet.
- Display the Customize tab.
- In the list, select the template you want to apply:
- Picture and Videos—(Windows Vista) Choose this template to give the folder the same features as Vista's Pictures folder.
- Pictures—(Windows 7 and Windows XP) Choose this template to give the folder the same features as Windows 7's Pictures library or XP's My Pictures folder.
- Photo Album—(Windows XP only) Choose this template to give the folder the same features as XP's My Pictures folder and display the folder in Filmstrip view by default.
- If you want Windows to apply this template to all the subfolders in the Pictures share, click to activate the Also Apply This Template to All Subfolders check box.
- (Windows XP only) If you also want to change the image used for the folder icon, click Choose Picture, choose a new picture in the Browse dialog box, and then click Open.
- Click OK.
Using Server Pictures as a Screensaver Slideshow
In the old days (a few years ago) when everyone was still using CRT monitors, you had to be careful to avoid burn-in, which is permanent damage to areas of the screen caused by continuously displaying a particular image over a long period. Whatever the image—it could be a menu bar, the Windows taskbar, or an application toolbar—if it was onscreen long enough, it eventually became a permanent part of the screen as a ghostly reflection of the original.
Now that most of us are using LCD monitors, burn-in is a thing of the past, but that doesn't mean that continuously displayed images are no longer a worry. LCDs suffer from a similar problem called persistence, in which a long-displayed image persists onscreen as a faint version of the original. Fortunately, LCD persistence is usually temporary and can often be remedied just by turning off the monitor for a while (say, half an hour or so). However, persistence does become permanent on occasion, so further preventative measures are necessary.
The best of these measures is configuring a screensaver to kick in after an extended period of computer idleness. Windows 7, Vista, and XP come with built-in screensavers, but you can also set up a screensaver that displays a slideshow of images from a folder. If you have lots of pictures stored on Windows Home Server's Pictures share, this folder is perfect for a screensaver. Here are the steps to follow to set this up:
- Use one of the following methods to display the Screen Saver tab:
- In Windows 7 and Windows Vista, right-click the desktop, click Personalize, and then click Screen Saver. (Alternatively, select Start, Control Panel, Appearance and Personalization, Change Screen Saver.)
- In Windows XP, right-click the desktop, click Properties, and then display the Screen Saver tab. (Alternatively, select Start, Control Panel, Display, Screen Saver.)
- In the Screen Saver list, select Photos (in Windows 7 or Vista) or My Pictures Slideshow (in XP).
- Click Settings.
- Click Browse, use the Browse for Folder dialog box to select the \\ SERVER\Pictures folder, and then click OK.
- Configure any other screensaver options you want to use (such as the slide show speed), and then click Save (in Windows 7 or Vista) or OK (in XP).
- Click OK to put the new screensaver into effect.
Adding the Pictures Folder to Windows Media Player
If you're not streaming the Pictures share, you can still add it to Windows Media Player so that you can access it in the Pictures portion of the Media Player library. Note, however, that you don't have to bother with this in Windows 7 if you have the Windows Home Server Connector software installed, because the Connector automatically adds the \\ SERVER\Pictures share to Windows 7's Pictures library.
Here are the steps to follow in Windows Media Player 11:
- Select Start, All Programs, Windows Media Player.
- Pull down the Library menu and select Add to Library. Media Player displays the Add to Library dialog box.
- If you don't see the Monitored Folders list, click Advanced Options to expand the dialog box.
- Click Add to display the Add Folder list.
- Select Windows Home Server's Pictures share, and then click OK. Media Player adds the folder to the Monitored Folders list.
- Click OK. Media Player begins adding the contents of the Pictures share to the library.
- Click Close. (Note that you don't have to wait until Media Player has added all the pictures to the library; the process continues in the background, although it might take a bit longer than if you had left the dialog box open.)
To view the folder contents in Media Player, pull down the Library menu and select Pictures. In the Navigation pane, click Library, and then double-click the Folder view. You then see an icon for \\SERVER\Pictures, as shown in Figure 8.10. Double-click that icon to view the images.
Figure 8.10 Double-click \\SERVER\Pictures to view the contents of the Pictures share in Media Player 11.
Adding the Pictures Folder to Windows Live Photo Gallery
By default, Windows Live Photo Gallery includes the contents of your Windows 7 Pictures library. If you want to use the extensive Photo Gallery tools—fixing image problems, burning images to DVD, ordering prints online, and so on—with your server images, you need to add the Windows Home Server Pictures share to the program's Folders list. Here are the steps to follow:
- Select Start, All Programs, Windows Live Photo Gallery.
- Select File, Include a Folder. The Picture Library Locations dialog box appears.
- Click Add to open the Include Folder in Pictures dialog box.
- Select Windows Home Server's Pictures share. (In Windows 7, you can add the share either via your user account's Pictures library or via the network.)
- Click Include Folder. Photo Gallery adds the folder to the library.
- Click OK.
To view the folder contents in Windows Live Photo Gallery, click Pictures in the Folders pane, as shown in Figure 8.11.
Figure 8.11 Click Pictures to view the contents of the Pictures share in Windows Live Photo Gallery.
Adding the Pictures Folder to Windows Photo Gallery
By default, Vista's Windows Photo Gallery program includes your user account's Pictures and Videos folders, as well as the Public Pictures and Public Videos folders. To add the Windows Home Server Pictures share to the program's Folders list, follow these steps:
- Select Start, All Programs, Windows Photo Gallery.
- Select File, Add Folder to Gallery. The Add Folder to Gallery dialog box appears.
- Select Windows Home Server's Pictures share.
- Click OK. Photo Gallery asks you to confirm that you want to add the folder.
- Click Add. Photo Gallery confirms that it has added the folder.
- Click OK.
Running a Slide Show from the Pictures Share
You saw earlier that you can configure a screensaver–based slide show that uses Windows Home Server's Pictures share as the image source. If you don't want to wait until the screensaver kicks in, you can run a slide show anytime you like. Windows 7, Vista, and XP give you several ways to run a slide show based on images from the Pictures share:
- If you added the Pictures share to Media Player (see "Adding the Pictures Folder to Windows Media Player," earlier), open the User 1 (server) branch, select Pictures, and then click Play.
- If you added the Pictures share to Windows Live Photo Gallery (see "Adding the Pictures Folder to Windows Live Photo Gallery," earlier), open Photo Gallery's Folders branch, select Pictures, and then click the Slide Show button. (You also can press F12 or Alt+S.)
- If you added the Pictures share to Photo Gallery (see the previous section "Adding the Pictures Folder to Windows Photo Gallery"), open Photo Gallery's Folders branch, select Pictures, and then click the Play Slide Show button. (You also can press F11.)
- If you applied a picture template to the Pictures share earlier (see "Customizing the Pictures Share with a Template"), open the share and either click Slide Show (in Windows 7 or Vista) or View as a Slide Show (XP).
Changing the Default Picture Import Location to Windows Home Server
Both Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Photo Gallery come with a feature that enables you to import images from a digital camera or a document scanner. (Select File, Import from Camera or Scanner.) By default, the program imports the images to a subfolder in your user account's Pictures folder. If you prefer to import the images directly to Windows Home Server's Pictures share, follow these steps:
- Select File, Options. The program's Options dialog box appears.
- Select the Import tab.
- Use the Settings For list to select the type of import you want to customize: Cameras, Video Cameras, or CDs and DVDs.
- Click Browse to open the Browse for Folder dialog box.
- Select Windows Home Server's Pictures share, and then click OK.
- Repeat steps 3–5 to customize the other import types, if necessary.
- Click OK to put the new options into effect.