Create a Snazzy Slide Show

One of the biggest differences between film and digital images is this: Traditional prints are each their own island, remote and isolated, while digital images are, by definition, easy to share and enjoy with others. In the old days, if you wanted to show off your photos around the holidays, your only choice was to congregate around the slide projector. These days, you can simply and quickly make your own slide shows that play from anyone's hard drive or a CD or DVD.

So this year, surprise your friends and family with your own personalized digital photo slide shows. They're fun and easy to make, and they avoid the expense and hassle of ordering multiple sets of prints.

As Easy as 1, 2, XP

If you're running Windows XP, you're in luck: Making a slide show is virtually effortless. Windows XP has a slide show feature built into every folder that contains images. Try this:

  1. In either Windows XP Home Edition or Windows XP Professional, open My Pictures (click Start, All Programs, My Pictures or go to a subfolder within My Documents), and then open any folder inside My Pictures that is stocked with digital images.
  2. On the left side of the folder, you should see a Task Pane filled with common activities (as long as Windows Explorer is in its default configuration). The very first section is labeled Picture Tasks, and headlining that box is a command called "View as a slide show." Just click it, and your pictures will appear as a slide show on your PC screen. If you just sit back and watch, the slide show will automatically advance, one image every few seconds. If you don't see the Picture Tasks option, click View, Filmstrip and you can manually go from one image to the next. You can also right-click on any one of the images for additional options (print, edit, and so on).
  3. You can also click on the forward, back, and pause controls at the top right of the screen to take charge of the slide show.
  4. Keep in mind that Windows XP can only play the images in a single folder as a slide show. So if you want to combine the contents of two folders into a single slide show, you'll have to copy or move some of the pictures so they're all in one place.

If you're having a hard time finding the pictures you want, check out our advice in "Take Control of Your Digital Photos."

While you're at it, don't forget to take a look at XP's Picture Slideshow screensaver.

  1. Right-click your Windows desktop.
  2. Select Properties, and in the Display Properties dialog box, click the Screen Saver tab.
  3. Choose My Picture Slideshow from the list of screensavers, and be sure to click the Settings box to choose the folder that Windows should use for setting up your slide show. You can also adjust the timing of the slides (in seconds).

Learn more about making XP slide shows with "Digital Focus: Make a CD Slide Show."

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