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Make a 3D Photo Tour with Live Search Maps

13. 5. 2008

Last week I created a tutorial showing how to geotag sets of photos (without GPS to boot).  Live Search Maps collections provide a nice way to show where photos were taken and share them online. However, there’s a way to take the geotagging with Live Search Maps a step further and make it more immersive.

Live Search Maps has a 3D viewing mode in the browser, with the use of a downloadable plug-in (it’s pretty lightweight, so it only takes a few minutes to get going). Using the 3D plug-in, I can take the geotagging a step further by not only placing the photograph where I was standing when I took it, but also by placing the camera in 3D to face the same way I was looking when I took the picture. Additionally, by doing this to a bunch of photos in a collection, you can use the “Tour in 3D” collections feature to make an automatic, online, shared video of your travels.

This video shows the steps I go through to orientate the camera to where I took the picture for two of the places I went to. The first, a picture of St. Louis, uses the buildings to find my location. The second uses the mountains in the distance.

To view the collection I created, go to!103. The tour button is seen on the collections page below.

Tour3D (3)

- Tim O'Connor (Software Development Engineer)

I love travel – seeing new landscapes, new cities, and expanding the list of places I’ve been. Of course,I don’t have the opportunity to go everywhere all the time, but I still want to see what different places around the world are like. I also want to send pictures to family and friends after a trip to show them where I’ve been and what I’ve seen. As a result, I’m a bit of a geotagging junky. I love recording and organizing where I’ve taken my photos, as well as knowing where – exactly where – others have taken their photos.

Geotagging, for many people, implies going on trips with a camera and a GPS receiver, and then using some custom software to tag all the photos with the GPS data after the trip. Being one who loves geotagging, I have a confession, though: I have never owned a GPS device.

So, how can I geotag photos and share them with family and friends? I can explore the world virtually through many different mapping applications that combine both maps and photos. Some of these allow geotagging (a la Flickr, et al), but that records only individual photo’s locations, not a full tour. What I’ve found out is a way to play around with the Live Maps Collections feature to create a photo tour. So, for those who want to create simple photo tours to share with friends and the world (and don’t want to deal with GPS), here’s how.

This week I’ll show a straightforward, 2D method of creating geotagged collections of photos. This article is only the first of two parts. The second part will show how to take advantage of the 3D features of Virtual Earth to make a fuller video-like geotagged photo tour so you'll want to look out for that post!

Building a Geotagged Set of Photos

There are three parts to building a geotagged set of photos. The first is to upload the photos that I want to tag. The second is creating the geotags, which is done using the Virtual Earth collections. The last is to attach the photos to items in the collection. As a note, you will need a Windows LiveID to be able to create and save collections as well as upload photos.

Step 1

We do this step for you. Simply upload the pictures you want to tag to Windows Live Spaces using the Windows Live Photo Gallery. The first step is covered in a previous article so I won’t repeat it here. Once you’ve uploaded the album you want to tag, view the album.

Step 2

Creating a Collection

Now open another browser window and go to Once you arrive there, sign in (in the upper right-hand corner). You can now create a new collection and save it with your Live ID. Click the “Collections” link in the upper right-hand area of the page and click “Open your collections”. It’s OK that if you don’t have any yet. You can make them after you follow the link.


When you’ve clicked the link, you should get something like this where you can add your new collection:


I’ve already got my collection sitting here (“Moving to Washington”) so I’ll show you how to create an additional collection. Simply click “New Collection” and fill in the blanks. It should look as follows:




Make sure to turn on sharing if you want your friends to be able to see it. And if you don’t mind the general public seeing it, let the “Make this collection searchable” box stay selected.

Adding Geotags/Pushpins

Arriving at this stage, you can now add items by clicking the pushpin button at the bottom. Don’t be confused by the text in the box talking about “Add to collection” like I was – that’s just for adding items found using searches. We’re not doing that here.

So next, I’ll show how to add geotags. Live Maps uses pushpins to mark places on a map – just like how people put pins in wall maps to show where they’ve been. We add pins to a collection and then add photos to those pins.

Adding pins is simple, just open you’re collection and click the “Add a pushpin” button at the bottom of the “Collections editor” window. In 2D with the “Hybrid” map view, it looks like this:


After clicking to add a pushpin, click on the map to place the pin. Here’s what shows up:


This is the same location as the 2D, but I’ve rotated the view (I’ll show why next week). Now we can add a couple of details about the point, which is our geotag for a photo. Next, we tie a photo to the pushpin, which we have two ways of doing. The first is using the album that I created by uploading from the Live Photo Gallery. The second is to use Live Maps’ upload tool, which I won’t show here since it’s pretty easy.

Tagging Photos

To add a photo to the pushpin I created, I go to the window I left open from Step 1 that’s viewing the album I just uploaded to Live Spaces. I select the photo from the album I want and view it.


On the right, there are a bunch of options to play around with. Here, we’ll hack the “Embed” feature to get what we want. Click the “Embed” link (underlined in the picture below). When you do, some options will show up down below the album area. Here we’ll use the “Copy” feature of the “Emed this photo” box.


When you do, some options will show up down below the album area. Here we’ll use the “Copy” feature of the “Embed this photo” box. (Make sure to click allow on the dialog that comes up if you’re using Vista).


Now, we paste this link into the geotag pin we created in the collection and clean it up by removing the HTML. The pasting and cleanup looks like this:

PinAddedDelHeadIMG-(2)  PinAddedDelTailIMG-(2)


Delete the highlighted text shown in the images above. Now just click “Save”, and you’ve geotagged your photo! If you notice, there’s a 3D tour option when you’re using the 3D mode. I’ll show how to use that next week.

Do these steps for as many photos as you want. When you’re done, simply click the “Actions” link next to the “My Collections ” link and choose “Send in e-mail” to send a link for your friends and family to view your tour.


Of course, one of the cool things about collections is that the more people use it, the more photos that can be explored. Speaking of exploring, here’s the link (!103&encType=1) to the collection I created that’s a tour of the places I went through when moving from New Jersey out to Redmond to work for Microsoft.

Let us know what you think! What works and what doesn’t with geotagging? What do you like about geotagging and what are cool ways you think to geotag photos? What are cool ways to explore other’s geotagged photos?

- Tim O'Connor (Software Development Engineer)

Flickr recently implemented the Windows Live Contacts API in their friend finder. That means in just a couple clicks you can make all your Windows Live contacts Flickr friends too! I’ve used Flickr for a while now as one of my ways to share photos, but throughout that time I’ve only acquired a couple friends on their service. I would add someone if I happened to notice they also shared on Flickr but I never felt compelled to recreate my social network on their site. It just seemed like a bunch of busy work.

Yesterday I saw a couple posts here and here and thought I should go try the Flickr Friend Finder service out. I was amazed that I had over 40 Windows Live contacts using Flickr that I had never known about before. The service also supports gathering your Gmail and Yahoo contacts. So if your one of the many folks out there using the Windows Live Photo Gallery to publish to Flickr I suggest you try out this new Flickr feature. It’s a great use of the Live Contacts API. Well done, Flickr.

John Thornton (Program Manager)

Windows Live Photo Gallery helps you easily send your favorite photos via email.  To do this simply select the photos you want to send to your family or friends and click the E-mail button on the Photo Gallery command bar.  When you do this Photo Gallery will use the default email program to create an email message with your photos attached.  This is important to know if you, like many people, have more than one program that they use to send email (these programs are referred to as e-mail clients).  Some common clients are Windows Live Mail, Outlook and Outlook Express.  In order to ensure that your photos are sent with the e-mail client you want you will have to make sure that e-mail client is the default program.

Want better looking photo emails than just plain attachments?  Use Windows Live Mail!

When you use Windows Live Mail you can add nice effects to your mail and your photos.  You get layout and picture frame options and the photos are sent in the message and not as an attachment.  So if Windows Live Mail isn't already your default mail client, you can set it up to be:

1. In Windows Live Mail, open the options dialog.  To do this click on the Show Menu button and choose “Show all menus.”  Once you can see all menus you can select the “Tools” menu and choose “Options.” 


2. In the Options dialog click the “General” tab and click the “Make Default” button and click “OK.”MakeLiveMailDefault

That’s it!  You are ready for a great photo mail experience.

What if you want to use Outlook?

You can use Outlook if you would prefer.  To make Outlook your default email client you need to open the “Options” dialog from the “Tools” menu.  In the “Other” tab you can check the box that says “Make Outlook the default program for E-mail, Contacts and Calendar.”  Please note, sending photos via Outlook will cause the photos to be sent as an attachment.


What if you don’t have an e-mail client and check your mail using Internet Explorer or another web browser?

Currently, the e-mail button will not work for you.  However, if you publish your photos to a Windows Live Space you can use “Send a link” to send a photo mail via your Windows Live account.

We hope you have a great photo sharing experience.  Please let us know if you have questions or other feedback.

- Troy Barnes (SDET)

I'm a pretty hardcore tag'er.  I tag all my photos & videos which helps me quickly find them later when I want to show someone a specific file in my growing collection.  Of course tagging helps when I upload my photos online too, like to FlickrWindows Live Photo Gallery makes is very, very easy to tag your items but sometimes mistypes happen. 

Well, we've heard about some users occasionally experiencing a pesky little problem with the auto-suggest tag feature in the Info Pane.  Here's the setup... you're tagging some photos and you mistype a tag (e.g., you meant to type "Mom", but instead you typed "Nom" or something like that).  You deleted the bogus tag from the Tag list in the navigation tree (left pane in the program), but this bogus tag still shows up in this suggested list of tags in the Info Pane's tag edit box.  So, whenever you go to tag a photo the auto-suggest list shows "Nom" with the other recently used tags.  Ack!

While we don't have a one-click way to remove these yet, there is a manual way to do it.  First, this is a screenshot showing the auto-suggested tags when I clicked in the Tag edit box for this photo.  I want to get rid of the "t" suggested tag.


The workaround requires you open up the registry so the standard "beware" clause should be injected here...

Warning Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly by using Registry Editor or by using another method. These problems might require that you reinstall the operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that these problems can be solved. Modify the registry at your own risk.

Ok, now that is out of the way here's what you can do:

  1. Close Windows Live Photo Gallery.
  2. Go to Start | Run | type regedit and hit Enter. (On Vista you'll be prompted by the User Account Control dialog if you aren't logged in as the local administrator.)
  3. In the Registry Editor browse to this location: HKEY_CURRENT_USERS\Software\Microsoft\Windows Live\Photo Gallery\Library\PreviewPane\LabelAssignment\MRU
  4. In the right pane you should see the list of tags that show up in the auto-suggest list.  You can delete the one(s) you don't want.
  5. When you're finished, close Registry Editor and open Photo Gallery.

Here's a visual of Registry Editor browsed to the location I mentioned above:


Keep in mind, doing this manual workaround does not delete actual Tags from files or the Photo Gallery database.  So, even if you remove all the items in this list from this registry location, your actual tags remain untouched.  This only clears the auto-suggest list.

Hope this helps!  Happy tagging.

- Michael Palermiti (Program Manager)

First of all, we realize it has been a little while since we've posted anything here.  It hasn't been without good reason, though.  After the release of the Windows Live Suite a few months ago we've brainstorming like crazy and coming up with what we're confident will be an awesome next wave of products and services.  That's about all we can say for now.  Stay tuned! 

Request: If there are any topics you'd like us to write about on this blog, shoot us an email and let us know!  We're always on the lookout for interesting topics or how-to's that our customers might find useful.

On that note, I do have some Windows Live news to share...

It's been almost 2 1/2 years since FolderShare was acquired by Microsoft.  Having been a part of the original FolderShare team, I'm really excited to see this service get a long overdue update.  For those of you that aren’t familiar with the service, FolderShare is a lightweight client (Windows & Mac) and a web service.  With the client running on your computers, you are able to keep folders synchronized, access your files over the internet, and even share folders with friends.  No more emailing files to yourself or lugging around USB flash drives.  By keeping your folders (photos) synchronized between computers, many people find it is a great backup solution.  It’s important to note, that due to the fact that everything is synchronized versioning does not exist with FolderShare.  So I recommend you still use a traditional backup method in addition to FolderShare.

Congrats to the FolderShare team on an awesome release!  Can't wait to see what in store for the service over the next year.

- Ryan Hoge (Product Planner)

In case you missed it, our friend, Bill Crow, announced the availability of  the HD Photo plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop on his blog. 

"HD Photo plug-ins for Adobe® Photoshop® CS2 and CS3 have been officially released for both Windows and OSX.  They're available now from the Microsoft Download Center. 

Here are the separate downloads for Windows and OSX."

The release has received lots of press in the blogosphere.  Perhaps you've seen it here or here or here

In Bill's blog post, he goes on to say: 

"Take a look at previous blog entries here and here.  I also gave a presentation at WinHEC 2007 about HD Photo Best Practices.  While targeted primarily for hardware developers, the presentation contains a lot of information that may be useful for Photoshop users that want to best optimize their encoder parameters.  You can find a copy of the presentation here:  WinHEC 2007: HD Photo Implementation Guidelines."

- pixblog

Filed under:

This is a special shout-out to our BETA program participants!

At our last estimate, the Windows Live Photo Gallery BETA was installed by nearly 3 million users worldwide. Our BETA testers give us feedback, report bugs, and even yell at us when we make stupid design decisions – all of which helps us delivery high-quality products. Thank you to you all -- our BETA testers rock!

We recently deployed Windows Live Photo Gallery 2008 via Microsoft Update – If you have Microsoft Update enabled on your PC and had the BETA installed, then your BETA build should have been upgraded to the final release build (version 1308.1023).  Go check it out! If it wasn’t auto-upgraded, you can either launch Microsoft Update and do a scan for new updates, or go back to  and manually upgrade to the final release build.

- Kristen Miller (Program Manager) 

One of the top pieces of feedback we received after the release of the Windows Photo Gallery was that there was no easy way to resize photos.  Well, you asked for it and now you’ve got it in the Windows Live Photo Gallery!  Resizing one or more photos is very simple and takes just a couple of steps.  First, select the photo or photos you want to resize.  Then, go to the File menu and select the “Resize…” option (you can also find the “Resize…” option in the right click context menu).  Once you’ve done this, a simple dialog shows up.

Resize dialog

In choosing a size, you can select a few presets from the drop-down menu or type in your own custom size.  We only ask for one number because we will set the longest side of the photo to that size.  For instance, if you have a landscape being resized down to 600, the horizontal dimension will be 600 pixels wide.  If you have a portrait being resized down to 600, the vertical dimension will be 600 pixels tall.  Basically, when you specify the maximum dimension, you are defining a bounding box.  In the example above, the bounding box is a 600x600 square, and all of your photos will be resized to fit within that square while maintaining their aspect ratio.  Photos will only be sized down, so if the specified dimension is larger than the longest side of the original photo, the photo will not be resized.

Once you’ve picked the size, you can choose a destination folder to save the newly resized photos.  Then, it’s as simple as clicking “Resize and Save” to complete the operation.  All resizing is done using high quality bicubic interpolation and all files are saved as JPEGs.

- Karthik Anbalagan (Program Manager)

With the holidays coming up I feel compelled to do my PSA spot on backing up your memories. If you’re like me, the most important files on your computer are your digital images and videos. The photos of my babies, that vacation I took with my dad last year, my wedding – all of these are many magnitudes more important to me than any email or spreadsheet on my PC.

IMG_9190 (300x300)Given the importance of these file to each of us, you would think we would back them up daily. But most folks don’t. In fact many people just have them sitting on a den PC, on that hard drive that has an unknown expiration date – yes they all do expire. If you haven’t experienced a hard drive failure, then you are very lucky. It’s one of the darkest moments in computing.

I’d like to try to make your holiday season a happy one so here are three ways Microsoft can help you preserve your precious content.

First up, Windows Home Server. This product launched a few weeks back and it’s a great approach for multiple machines households. It’s a version of Server 2003 built for the house. It does lots of great stuff, including automated backup of up to 10 PC’s. I’d say this is a bit of a high end approach for most folks because you have to buy a dedicated machine to run it, but if you’re willing to do that, it works really well. You can even have your photos automatically uploaded to an online service like Flickr.

If you’re not ready to shell out the $$ for a Home Server but you have multiple machines in your life another great solution is FolderShare. With FolderShare you can mirror a folder across multiple machines. I use this to keep all my photos and video synchronized across all the machines I interact with. FolderShare can take any folder and synchronize it across multiple machines. It’s a great way to make sure all your machines have copies of your memories. For instance, my wife often imports pictures of the kids while I am at work. With FolderShare the full fidelity images just show up on my work machine, in my gallery and in my screen saver. If I tag a photo from a machine, it’s now tagged on all machines. Best of all, if one machine’s hard drive goes down I won’t lose my photos because they are redundantly stored on my other machines.

Another way to go is to use an online photo backup service like the new OneCare. This is a great approach if you only have one computer. OneCare will copy your photos to its server and keep them safe for you. In addition to the backup service OneCare gives you lots of other benefits like anti-virus and spyware protection.

Whatever you do, do something. Unlike a spreadsheet, it’s hard to recreate a photo.

- John Thornton (Program Manager)

Angus Logan, Technical Product Manager on the Windows Live Platform team, announced the immediate availability of the Windows Live Spaces Photo API (alpha) yesterday.  As he puts it in his one liner: The Windows Live Spaces Photo API allows a user to delegate permissions for a third party web site to read or read/write on albums and photos stored within Windows Live Spaces via a server to server API.

The alpha API comes complete with documentation and a brand new interactive SDK:

Angus was nice enough to share out a Powerpoint presentation that covers the overview of the API and some code samples, too:


What kind of coolness will you create with it? 

- pixblog

As you've probably heard, the next generation of Windows Live has arrived and its fresh out of the oven without a beta tag!  If you're the long reading type then take a look at the presspass Q&A available here which provides some great insight.  There is also a Windows Live fact sheet available here which provides lots of details about this week's release.  This afternoon our team along with the other Windows Live teams celebrated the release at our "ship party" (photo to the right). 

You can now get the new Windows Live at -- free!

Overall it's been an amazing year for our team and we're proud of the work we've accomplished.  First and foremost, we'd like to take this opportunity to thank the private beta testers.  Your help very early on proved to be invaluable to the quality of this release.  We'd also like to thank all of the early adopters of the public beta, readers of this blog that sent us emails and comments, and all of the other customers we heard from (Microsoft employees, too!) that helped us tremendously.  Everyone: THANK YOU!

Here are only a few of the many great customer quotes we've seen recently that make all the sweat worth it:

“It is both functional and beautiful to work with.
Needless to say, Live Photo Gallery is icing on the cake - moist, delicious cake. And the cake is not a lie."
- Long Zheng (

“This is really a wonderful thing.  I am so glad that you guys finally filled this huge feature gap and enabled easy publishing.”
- triplegreen (comment on our blog)

“Great update, been using spaces for quite some time now and appreciate the work you all do on it, thanks.”
- Mark (comment on Spaces Team blog)

“Thank you for redesigning the photo module!”
- Ivan Sammy (comment on Spaces Team blog)

"Honestly, I have to admit that Microsoft really stepped up their game with the new Windows Live Photo Gallery by adding support for Flickr."
- Ryan (

“Thank you for listening to users.”
- someone (comment on our blog)

"This (panorama feature) is the kind of technology you'd normally see reserved for higher end, paid for, photo editing programs but now it's available to everyone."
- Steve Clayton (

“Please keep up the great work - I'd love to be working on a product that's this good ;-)”
- cjm55 (comment on our blog)

"Thank you!  You just got yourself a Picasa convert."
- kkuphal (comment on our blog)

We'd like to leave you with a few new videos available online...

  • First, check out the really great "Share life as it happens" video on the brand new  This video is a quick but well done overview of how simple Windows Live Photo Gallery + Windows Live Spaces makes it to share your memories with those you care about.
  • Second, the crew at Channel 10 recently came over to our building and interviewed a couple of our team members.  Watch the interview on Channel 10.

Now, go download Windows Live and Share a smile and help us give to Operation Smile!

- pixblog

Jordan Schwartz, ex-microsoftie and original creator of this blog checked in with a fun technique to try out in the new Live Photo Gallery.

I used the panoramic stitch feature of the gallery to make this picture, easier than monkeying with cloning in photoshop to get the same effect. The only trick is that you have to make sure the person you want to duplicate is sufficiently far from him/herself that you get overlap that doesn't include the person. I found you need about a 1/3 of a photo width, but the pano guys would know better...

Thanks Jordan!

- pixblog

Creating panoramic stitches in the Windows Live Photo Gallery is quick and easy.  Using technology from Microsoft Research, we’ve been able to integrate panoramic stitching into the Live Photo Gallery in a way that’s fast and automatic.  Check out the following screencast for a walkthrough of how to stitch a number of photos together into one composite.

Video: Live Photo Gallery Panoramic Stitching

When taking photos to create a panorama, remember to have at least 30% overlap between shots to get the best results.  Look for unique features in whatever you are photographing that you can use as common elements between neighboring photos.  If you are stitching a large number of high resolution photos, the task may take a while since it’s quite computationally intense, but the results are worth the wait!

- Karthik Anbalagan (Program Manager)

It’s hard to follow-up Michael’s flickr post, but someone has to do it so here it goes.

We made some changes from the Vista Photo Gallery to the Live Photo Gallery in how you organize your photos.  One example of this is how we have pushed more organization into the import process.  The idea being that after you import your photos they come in to the gallery already pretty organized.  The following screencast walks through some of the other new photo organization features of the Live Photo Gallery.  Enjoy!

Video: gallery organization

- John Thornton (Program Manager)

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