Swapping Heads with Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011


Coauthored By: Heather Ackmann

If you’ve ever had to take a group photo, you know how hard it is to get everyone in the photo smiling with eyes open all at the same time.

And if you watch TV, you’ve probably seen the “To the Cloud” Windows 7 commercial featuring the mom and dad with their unruly kids trying to get the perfect family photo. You know, the one where the mom is able to swap out a goofy picture of one of her kid’s heads for a nicer picture, basically so she can piece together a photo that she can share with the rest of the world (i.e. Facebook).

If you haven’t seen it, you can watch the video below (and make sure you read the comments on the video — really funny stuff!).

The commercial is great because it shows the potential of Windows 7 and cloud computing, but the one thing they don’t show or tell you is how the mom is able to edit the photo, or even what program she is using. All we know is that she is using Windows 7 and “the cloud.”

But have no fear, Bill and Heather are here! We’ve figured it out and will share the specifics in how to edit photos using free tools available through Windows Live Essentials 2011.

What you’ll need:

  • Windows Vista with SP2 or either 32-bit or 64-bit versions of Windows 7
  • A Working Internet connection, preferably high-speed

How To Download Windows Live Essentials 2011

To Download Windows Live Essentials, or most notably, Windows Live Photo Gallery, you’ll need to first open a web browser and navigate to the Windows Live Essentials 2011 download page.

Windows Live Essentials

1. Click on the blue Download Now button in the center of the web page.

2. When the File Download dialog box appears either click run, or save the file to your computer to run and install the Windows Live Essentials applications.

If you like, you can install all of Windows Live Essentials or pick and choose which programs to install. If you do not wish to install all the Windows Live Essentials programs make sure you at minimum install the Photo Gallery and Movie Maker applications.

Windows Live Essentials

Windows Live Essentials

3. Once you’ve selected the applications to install, click Install.

4. After the programs have installed, you will be prompted to restart your computer. Like always, you can choose to Restart Now or Restart Later.

Windows Live Essentials

Once your computer has restarted, you can begin using the Windows Live Photo Gallery to locate and edit your photos.

How to Swap Faces Using Windows Live Photo Gallery

When you open Windows Live Photo Gallery for the first time, the photo gallery will quickly locate all image files on your computer and list those images by folder in the navigation pane to the left.

1. Navigate to the folder which contains the photos you’d like to edit or “swap faces.”

2. Select the photos you wish to work with. To select multiple photos, hold down the shift key and click the individual photos you want. You must select at least two photos. You can work with up to 10 photos. If you try to edit more than ten, you will receive the following message:

Windows Live Essentials -- Swap Faces

Now here’s where it gets tricky. The photos you select must, and I mean MUST, have the same background and lighting. It’s best if the photos were taken using a tripod because the slightest movement or change in the environment will affect if, or at minimum, how well these following steps work.

Windows Live Essentials - Photo Fuse

If you watch the video, you will notice that the family is using a tripod. Also notice the background. They are all sitting on the sofa where nothing in the peripheral of the photo is likely to move. Keep that in mind as you work with the following steps.

3. In the Windows Live Photo Gallery ribbon, click on the Create tab and in the Tools group, click on the button named “Photo Fuse.” The Photo Gallery will then work to “align” the photos.

Windows Live Essentials - Photo Fuse

If the backgrounds do not match or aren’t similar enough, you will receive the following message.

Windows Live Essentials - Photo Fuse

Unfortunately, this message appears often, even when you do have the same subjects, similar lighting, and vantage points.

But, if you are fortunate enough to have taken photos where the subjects, lighting, and vantage points are similar enough, then you’ll see your screen switch to a view that looks like this:

Windows Live Essentials - Photo Fuse

4. From the Photo Fuse window you can drag the face selection box to the person you wish to swap out.

Windows Live Essentials - Photo Fuse

5. You can resize the face selection box by dragging the corner handlebars in or out.

Windows Live Essentials - Photo Fuse

6. Next, simply scroll through the “Which do you like best?” box and click on the face you’d like to use.

Windows Live Essentials - Photo Fuse

7. From there, you can select other individuals by clicking and dragging over their faces and repeating steps 5 and 6.

8. When you are finished editing the photo, click Save.

Windows Live Essentials - Photo Fuse

Ah, Windows gave me the co-workers that nature never could!

If you’d like to see the above steps in action, be watch our YouTube video tutorial demoing the above process.

Ready to test your skills in Windows 7? See how they stack up with this assessment from Smarterer, the newest addition to the Pluralsight family. Start this Windows 7 test now


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