Fix problems with your digital photos

Fix problems with your digital photos

Discover how to rescue photos you thought ruined or damaged, with the help of Windows Photo Gallery

Don't bin that dodgy photo! If you've got some pictures that are damaged or poorly taken, chances are you can rescue them in just a few minutes – and it won’t cost anything. Advent PCs come pre-installed with Windows Photo Gallery, which has all the tools you need to handle common photo woes. If the software isn’t on your computer, you can get it as part of the free Windows Essentials package.

1. Import photos

When you open Windows Photo Gallery for the first time, it will automatically pull in all the photos from the ‘Pictures’ folder on your computer. If you have snaps stored elsewhere, you'll need to click on the ‘Import’ button and select the relevant folder – the photos will then be filed according to the date they were taken.

2. Auto adjust 

If some of your snaps need a little work, the quickest and simplest way to edit them is by using Auto Adjust. Double-click on a photo to look at it more closely then click the Auto Adjust button at the top of the screen. The program will automatically make simple changes to brightness and exposure – it will even straighten up wonky pictures. If you don't like the changes, just click the ‘Revert’ button to go back (this works for any changes you make to photos on this programme).

3. Correct rotation 

When images are first added to your Windows Photo Gallery library, they should be automatically rotated the right way up. But if you find any have been missed, it’s easy to fix them manually. You'll find the rotate left and right buttons at the top-left of the screen when working with a specific image, and the buttons are also visible in the bottom-right of the screen.

4. Crop

The ability to snip the edges off a photo using the cropping tool is one of the simplest – but most useful – features of any photo-editing program. Double-click a photo to open it and click the ‘Crop’ button at the top. Now click and drag over the area you want to keep. You can adjust the selected area by clicking and dragging on the white boxes (handles) on the edges. Complete the job by clicking the ‘Crop’ button once more or by pressing the [Enter] key.

5. Retouch

Windows Photo Gallery comes with a basic Retouch feature, which means you can airbrush unwanted elements from the background of your picture. It works best when you have a simple coloured background to work with – such as with this blue sky that's interrupted by a jet trail. Having opened the picture by double clicking on it, just click the ‘Retouch’ button and drag the box across the area you want to fix. Fixing small areas gradually is the best way to work – and it’s a good method for healing rips in old scanned photographs, too.

6. Straighten 

Unless you're shooting with a tripod, chances are some of your pictures won’t be perfectly straight. That's where the Straighten tool comes in. Click the button and your image will automatically be straightened. There will be certain images that aren’t suitable for this tool.

7. Noise reduction 

Taking pictures in dark conditions – especially without the help of a tripod – is a common way to introduce noise into your final image. Noise is that grainy effect you'll see on photos, most noticeably as you zoom in. The Noise Reduction feature on Windows Photo Gallery can't eliminate noise entirely, but it can blend it away so it's not as visible. Again, it’s a one-click process, using the button at the top of the window.

8. Colour 

You'll be able to achieve impressive results with the Colour function. Clicking on the button will make automatic adjustments to give you more true-to-life colours in your image – or you can click on the drop-down arrow to choose from more options. Roll your mouse over each to see how it will affect your image; this tool is particularly useful for working with sunsets and night skies.

9. Exposure 

If the results of an image are too dark, try the Exposure tool. Again, you can either click on the button for a quick fix, or click on the arrow for more options. The automatic setting is clever and will gently bring out previously lost details from a photo.

10. Fine tune 

Windows Photo Gallery is an intentionally simple program, but if you're hankering after a little more control, try the Fine Tune options. Clicking here opens a sidebar on the right of the screen that offers manual control over exposure, colour, straightening and detail. One of the more advanced features is the histogram in the exposure settings. This shows how much darkness and light is present in the image; you can drag the handles left and right to quickly make some impressive adjustments to your image.

11. Red eye removal 

Red eye is a common problem with snapshots. You can eliminate red eye quickly in Windows Photo Gallery with its dedicated tool. This works similarly to the Retouch tool: click the button, then click and drag over the affected area. The fix is then automatically implemented.

12. Quick adjustments 

Most of these image adjustments can be applied to several pictures at once – for example, when you need to rotate a number of images in one go. To do this, return to the main library view and select the images by clicking inside the tick box that appears as you roll over each one. Switch to the Edit tab, and select the option you want to apply to the images (note that some will be greyed out and unavailable).