Photo tagging: Vista killer feature?

Jon Udell offers some insightful comments and a 14-minute screencast showing off how tagging works in Windows Vista;s Photo Gallery. His comments are remarkably insightful. I was especially struck by this one:

Conventional wisdom was that people could never be bothered to invest effort in tagging their stuff. What and then Flickr and then a host of other web applications showed is that people will invest that effort if the activation threshold is low and the reward is immediate. On the web, the rewards are both personal (I can more easily find my photos) and broadly social (I can interact not only with friends and family but with like-minded photographers everywhere). On the desktop, the rewards will mainly be personal and more narrowly social (friends and family), though if photos can bring their tags with them when they travel to the cloud, the broader social rewards become available too.

A few weeks ago, I called Photo Gallery one of the “killer features” in Vista. Yes, I know about iPhoto and Picasa and even Photoshop, but this is a genuinely different experience. The idea that your metadata actually lives in the file in a standard format (XMP) instead of in a separate database is groundbreaking, especially as part of a free program included with practically every new computer sold to consumers.

6 thoughts on “Photo tagging: Vista killer feature?

  1. What most people don’t realize is that they can do all this now on Windows XP, if they have Photoshop and Windows desktop search. In Photoshop, select all your pictures, and then the “File>Write Tag Info to File” command. It writes all your tag information to each photo itself, not in a separate database. Then, in Windows search, tell it to index now and in a few seconds it will have indexed all those tags from within the picture files. Then you can look for any pictures using those tags. For example, to find all photos that you have tagged with a “bicycle” tag, just type

    kind: pic bicycle

    into Windows desktop search bar, and then it will find them in a second or two. No one seems to know this, or at least I’ve never seen it described anywhere! This is not restricted to Photoshop; anything like the new free utility from Microsoft to write tags to the photo files will also work this way.

  2. Yes, you’re right. The difference is that Photoshop costs $400 (and Photoshop Elements doesn’t do this, AFAIK). The tagging tools are fine for searching with Explorer, but the filtering tools with Photo Gallery are a thousand times more usable and useful.

  3. I love the tagging features in Vista, period. It isn’t limited to the Photo Gallery. I also love being able to find specially tagged documents and other files instantly and to be able to do the tagging from within Windows Explorer.

  4. When I tested Photoshop Elements two months ago, it wasn’t in there. or if it was it was buried so thoroughly as to be unusable.

    I appreciate the input, but it appears I did a crappy job of making my point, which has everything to do with usability. Yes, there are add-ons that can do this in Windows Explorer, but the experience of using Microsoft Photo Info 1.0 is not the same as using Photo Gallery. Not even close. You can’t filter on dates, tags,and ratings in Windows Explorer in XP and then save the results as a movie or DVD for example.

    I guess I need to do a more complete post on these technologies to explain what’s different.

  5. I’ve been using the photo-tagging feature very aggressive. I have a lot of images that I never had any decent way to sort through before this, and now I can find most anything I’m looking for without bulldozing through an endless hierarchy of subdirectories.

    The problem with photo-tagging via a third party application is that they either store their metadata somewhere else (which makes them useless if you copy the photos somewhere), or they simply don’t have the tightness of integration with the system to really make them more than a provisional solution.

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