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Windows photo editing tools
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How-tos

10 tips for using Windows’ built-in photography apps (no extra downloads required!)

Who says you need a paid service or heavy software to store and edit photos? Unless you’re a professional photographer who is trying to work on client images, there’s no need to pay for a photo editing service.

Instead of wasting money, turn to your trusty Windows computer. Many free programs come pre-installed with any new PC, including photo apps.

Check out these 10 tips for using Windows’ built-in photography applications, each designed to help you show off your best pictures.

Looking for pro photography shots or inspiration, tips and advice to drive your own photography goals? Check out Dreamstime for all the pro images and inspiration you need.

1. Slideshows

If you like sharing slideshows of recent trips, pets, family functions, or work events, turn to the Photos app or Photo Viewer app. Both offer slideshow options and all you have to do is press a few buttons.

Windows 10 and 11 only have access to the Photos app. Type Photos into the search bar in the lower left corner and tap the Photos app when it appears. When using this app, press the three-dot menu on the top right, then click Slideshow.

For Windows 8.1 or older computers, view a slideshow of your photos with Windows Photo Viewer. Just press the large button right in the middle of the app’s taskbar.

2. Share

One of the main reasons people take pictures is to share them with friends, family, or followers on social media pages. Join the fun with one of Windows’ free apps: Photos.

Sharing is easy with Photos. Select which images you want to share, then press the Share button on the top menu. This option allows you to share your photos in emails, copy them for social media platforms and more.

3. Rotate

We’ve all had those moments when we want to feel artsy, so we take pictures from different angles. But when we see how they turned out, we wish we hadn’t rotated our cameras.

Luckily, you can rotate those images to the appropriate orientation with Photo Viewer. Open the image and use the rotation control arrows.

In Photos, select the image you want to rotate and click Edit image at the left of the top menu. From here, you can use the rotate buttons on the bottom left to rotate the picture left or right, or you can flip the image using the bottom right buttons.

4. Albums

The easiest way to find your favorite photos or specific people and events is to save images in albums you can sort through and name yourself.

If your PC uses Windows 11, any pictures you upload can be placed in an album. To start, open Photos and click Albums from the top menu. You can choose any photo or video you have uploaded to the Photos app.

5. Enhance

The Photos app has image enhancement and adjustment tools built in for free. This is perfect for anyone who wants to make their photos really stand out.

Choose the image you want to enhance and click Edit image, then adjustment and Filter. You can choose the Auto Enhance option or choose from the free filters.

6. Adjust

In Photos, select the image you want to adjust, click the Edit image button, and Adjustment. From here, you can use the sliders to the right to adjust brightness, exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, vignette, saturation, warmth or tint.

Play with these settings to get the best colors or change your pictures’ focal points.

7. Selective focus

Selective focus may be one of the most useful free photo features you can get from a Windows computer. No more messing with blurs and overlays. Just open your image in Paint 3D.

Use Select to choose what part of the image you want to blur, then drag the image until it is very, very small. Click outside the white space you just created, then zoom in to see the area you resized.

Choose Select again and create a square around the resized area. Click the white dot in the opposite corner you used to make the section tiny, then pull it out to refit the original space.

Yes, this is a lot of steps, but once you understand how it’s done, it is actually very fast and easy. You’re just pixelating the section so it is very blurry — normally a difficult feat without additional paid applications.

8. Burn to disc

Remember when everyone was burning CDs? Well, many people still want digital copies of their photos on discs. If you’re a wedding photographer or if you’re working on a passion project, you can burn several photos to discs when you use the Share tab in the Photos app.

If you are using an older version of Windows, there is a similar option at the top of the image you open. Simply open Photo Viewer, then select the images you want and choose Burn from the menu.

9. Invert colors

Whether you’re working on a school project or just want to have a little extra fun with your pictures, inverting colors can be a great way to pump up the artistic feel of your photography job or hobby. When you invert colors, you’re just changing light to dark or dark to light.

To accomplish the color inversion, open your image in MS Paint to quickly and easily invert the colors. Go to the Select menu and choose Rectangular selection or Freeform selection if you want a smaller area. Draw the selection or press Ctrl + A to select the entire image, right-click the selection, then click Invert colors.

10. Trace tool

One fun way to present an image is to provide a blank, black-and-white outline of the subject or subjects. To accomplish this, use the trace tool in MS Paint. It is also a fun way to turn online art you come across into a color page for the little ones.

Open the Paint app, then open the image you want to trace. Use the brush or pencil tool to trace over the picture. This step doesn’t have to be precise since you can fix any mistakes later.

Next, use the Select tool to highlight the entire image, then right-click and Invert color. Save your progress since the next step can’t be changed back if there is a mistake you want to fix.

Go to File, then Properties, and select the option to change the colors to Black and white. Now, invert the color for the entire image as explained in the previous section, then go back to File and Properties. Change the Colors option back to Color and you’re all done.

Now that you know how to use Windows’ free image editing tools, go forth and have fun!

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