Sunday, May 1, 2005

Microsoft Office Picture Manager is an eBay and blogging wonder

PRODUCT REVIEW

By David Gewirtz

If you use Microsoft Office (and let's be honest, most of you do), you're probably very familiar with the bigger components. Personally, I live in Microsoft Outlook, use Word almost daily, try unsuccessfully to avoid PowerPoint, and do critical business analysis in Excel.

But, I rarely delve into the programs known collectively as Microsoft Office Tools. In fact, until Denise pointed it out to me this week, it never really registered on my caffeine-deprived consciousness that there's a photo editing tool in Office 2003.

It's called Microsoft Office Picture Manager, shown in Figure A, and, according to my wife, it's way easier to use than Photoshop for her eBay and blogging activities.

FIGURE A

Microsoft Office Picture Manager does just the basics. (click for larger image)

First, let's make sure you know how to find Picture Manager. It's located in the Microsoft Office Tools folder contained within your Microsoft Office Folder, in your All Programs menu. Yeah, go dig. It's worth it.

The name of the program is quite descriptive of its feature set. This is a picture manager, not a picture editor. It'll easily help you resize your images, crop them, do some simple color manipulation, change the size of the images and their compression level, all with a few clicks.

If you're blogging, or you're selling things on eBay, this may be all you need. For example, if you take a picture with your digital camera, you're not going to want to upload a full-size 4-megapixel image to eBay. Instead, pop it into Microsoft Office Picture Manager, resize it, crop it, and upload it. You're done.

Likewise, if you're blogging and just want a representative image, you can create smaller images and cropped images very easily with just Microsoft Office Picture Manager.

To be fair, it uses default options for everything. So if you're a tweaker, or want to do some serious image retouching or cleanup, this is not for you. But if all you want is to get a picture into your blog or prepare it for eBay, Microsoft Office Picture Manager is a great solution.

If you already own Microsoft Office 2003, this is a free tool you've likely already got on your computer. If you're thinking about upgrading to Office 2003, this is one more added reason to go ahead.

Since Microsoft Office Picture Manager doesn't claim to be anything other than a simple picture manager and it does what it claims very easily, we give Microsoft Office Picture Manager an it-knows-its-own-limitations 4 out of 5.

RATING: 4 STARS