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Add an AutoCollage plug-in to Windows Live Photo Gallery

Windows Live Photo Gallery is an essential utility in more senses than one. It is part of the Windows Live Essentials pack of software and it can be downloaded for free from the Windows Live website. It is also essential in another way because recent versions of Windows have very little in the way of bundled software. It's all on the web and you're expected to download it. Windows Live Photo Gallery is an excellent photo manager and organiser and its range of functions can be expanded through the addition of plug-ins. AutoCollage is one many plug-ins and it's an interesting one to add.

Start Windows Live Photo Gallery and select the Home tab. Near the right hand side in the Share section is a large box and these are the plug-ins. It may already have some, such as SkyDrive, YouTube or Messenger. Click the arrow in the bottom right corner of this box (it says More when the mouse hovers over it). A palette of plug-ins is displayed and there is a link to add a plug-in. It takes you to the Windows Live Plug-ins site. Select Photo Gallery Plug-ins if it is not already selected.

There are a couple of pages of plug-ins, so find AutoCollage and click it. On the next page, click the Download Now button. This takes you to another page, Microsoft Research AutoCollage 2008, and there is another download link, which leads to yet another download page. Follow the download link trail and you will eventually discover that it isn't actually free. However, it is free to try for a month and if you don't want to keep it after the trial period you simply forget about it and don't bother paying. (Some plug-ins really are free, so don't let this one put you off trying some others.)

Go ahead and download it. Save it to disk and then run it or just run it from the download box. Restart Windows Live Photo Gallery and then select some photos - there's a minimum number, but you can choose what this is. Then select the Create tab and click the More Tools button in the Tools section of the ribbon toolbar. A new window opens and the selected photos are added to the work area.

AutoCollage

Click the Create button and an interesting animation takes place that moves the photos around, eventually settling into the finished collage. Buttons in the panel on the right then enable you to set it as desktop wallpaper, email it, or save it. If you're not happy with it though, just click create and the photos are rearranged into a new collage.

It's an interesting plug-in that adds a clever feature to Windows Live Photo Gallery. Play around with it, you've got a month until the free trial period expires, so get creating some collages.

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