How to Capture an Image with Windows Photo Gallery - dummies

How to Capture an Image with Windows Photo Gallery

By Mark L. Chambers

Scanner manufacturers ship a bewildering number of different capture (or acquisition) programs with their hardware, so there’s no single proper way to scan an original. However, scanners that comply with the TWAIN standard can be controlled from within popular image editors such as Adobe Photoshop.

TWAIN, for you acronym nuts, is not an acronym — it refers to the line “and never the twain shall meet,” from that Kipling guy. (Many folks think that TWAIN means technology without an interesting name. It doesn’t.)

Now that you’ve been properly introduced, here’s the important part you’ll be tested on: Devices that are TWAIN-compatible are operating system–independent, meaning that these devices are interchangeable among Windows, Macintosh, and Linux. Any TWAIN-compatible hardware device can work with any TWAIN-compatible image editor or software application — pretty sassy, no?

Here, you use a typical USB Hewlett-Packard scanner within Windows Photo Gallery, which you can pick up as a free add-on for Windows 8 (as part of the Windows Essentials suite).

If you follow along with this procedure, you end up with an image that you can edit within a program like Photoshop, convert to another format, or simply save to your hard drive. (Of course, your scanner will also include the manufacturer’s software, which likely includes at least a basic image editing program. It’s up to you which editing program you choose.)

Assuming that you have the Windows Essentials suite loaded on your computer, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Start screen and type Photo, and then click the Photo Gallery button that appears in the Apps Search results pane.

    If you’ve added a Photo Gallery tile to your Start screen, you can also click the tile. No matter how you get there, the main program window appears.


  2. Click the Home tab, and click the Import button in the New group.

  3. Click the entry for your scanner and then click the Import button.

    At this point, Photo Gallery invokes the scanner’s TWAIN driver, so the resulting dialog box will be different for every manufacturer — however, the important controls should be evident if you explore a bit.

  4. Click the Start a New Scan button (or whatever it’s called within your scanner’s controls).

    Your scanner should rumble to life, and eventually the dialog box produces a thumbnail image of the original.

  5. If you’re satisfied with the dimensions of the image and the automatic settings chosen by your scanning software, click the Send the Scan Now button.

    The result appears as a new image within Photo Gallery, ready for you to edit and experiment to your heart’s content.

However, if you need to fine-tune the image before sending it to Photo Gallery in Step 5, here are the common settings that you can change in most scanner drivers, along with what you accomplish:

  • Output type: This setting controls which type of image file the scan produces. Typically, you want a color photograph in 24-bit (or 16.7 million) colors, but other choices might include a web image at 256 colors, a grayscale image (what most folks think of as “black and white”), a true black-and-white–only drawing, or simple text (optimized for reading with an OCR program).

    Generally, use JPG format for smaller file sizes and TIFF format when archival storage and highest quality are important.

  • Image boundaries: Use this feature to click and drag the boundaries of the scanned image. For example, move the scanned image border inside any extraneous material on the edges of the original, such as text that surrounds a picture you want from a magazine page.

    When you reduce the size of the actual scan, your image file is smaller and the scanner takes less time to do its job — plus you can save a step by cropping that extraneous part of the image now instead of later within your image editing program.

    If your scanning program includes an auto-edge detection feature, use that option, and you’ll likely eliminate most of this fine-tuning.

  • Image scale: You can use the original image size, or you can scale the scanned image by a specified percentage. Also, most drivers allow you to set the width or height of the scanned image in inches, and the software automatically calculates the proper proportion change for the other dimension.

  • dpi (or resolution): A setting of 150 to 300 dpi is usually fine for scanning photographs or documents, but if you’re planning to enlarge an image with a lot of detail, you might want to specify a higher resolution. However, this significantly increases the size of the finished image file.