Using the Star Rating System in Windows Live Photo Gallery

12 Jul

In the Digital Workshops on board the Holland America ships we teach many wonderful programs.  One of my favorites though is our Transferring Photos class, or you may know it as Insert Photo Here, because it gives me a chance to explain one of the most frequently overlooked editing tools, the “Star” rating system.  Windows Live Photo Gallery(WLPG) gives the user the same tool that the professionals use to edit their images.  As a former Stock photo editor who had to on a daily bases go through between 500 and 5,000 images a day I truly understand the power and convenience of workflow that WLPG offers to it’s user to edit their images and select what is truly the best images they have taken.  I have been on many cruises and I find a week that my average guest creates around 300-1000 pictures a week and they will, if ever, spend hours, most likely weeks, weeding through images deciding on what are their best images.  Dragging and dropping images here and there (good and bad piles really), repetitively hitting the delete key, and spending more time dragging and dropping. Well, the “Star” system can help and let me explain how by giving you my personal workflow; explain how the system was meant to be used.


Let’s find exactly what we are looking for.  In the tagging and info pane located on the right hand side of the the gallery work space, accessed by clicking the Tag and Caption button in the Ribbon at the top, you will notice 5 clear or blue stars.  The Star system is designed as a process of elimination, I call it panning for gold and not because as you rate the stars turn gold, though I like that too;)  The Star ratings are also designed to be done free of the mouse. Using a mouse to do your selections will waste hours of time moving the cursor here and there on the screen.  So here is how I explain the Workflow to my guests on board.

First I have my guest bring up the folder or selection of images they want to edit, then, double left click the first image to see it enlarged, open the Tagging and Info pane by doing as I describe above and follow these next few simple methods. 

I give One Star to every image I don’t hate.  Strong language I know but I hate blurry shots, bad expressions on faces, shots of knees, pockets, and every thing else that strikes me as not good.  How do I do this without the mouse you might ask.  Well if you press the number 1 key on the key board the first star will light up, press the 5 key and five stars light up (0 removes all stars).  So now I have job for my left hand.  Second, I need to get to the next image so I let go of the mouse and put my right hand’s fingers on the right and left arrows in the bottom right hand corner of the key pad.  When you tap the right arrow it takes you to the next image, the left to the previous.   Now I have a job for my right hand.  Now I do my editing in multiple passes. 

When you have hundreds or thousands of images it’s easy to tell what’s bad but not so easy to see what best.  So I just want to get ride of the garbage with the first pass.  I don’t delete now because it takes to much time and later I can display only the junk/unrated images and delete them in mass. 

So with my left had on 1 and my right hand on the right arrow I go through as fast as possible letting my first impression be my guide.  “Do I like it?  Yes” (one star), next, “Do I like it?  No” (skip) spending no more than a few seconds at most with each image.  If you have to ask yourself if it’s good you should probably skip it.  When done.  You are ready for the second pass. 

First though you need to find and use one of the “Find/Display” options “Rated” in the ribbon about 2/3 to the right.  Select rated and display only the 1 star in the drop down that will open.


Now here is my rule for the 2nd Star.  I use it to eliminate duplication.  In the digital age people take 10 shots of everything.  Do you really want to show your friends and family when you get home 10 pictures of Tuesday nights dinner plate?  No.  And I’m sure they don’t want to see it either.  So, I give 2 Stars to every image I have only one of and the best of a series.  I only want to show my friends the one and best image of Tuesdays dinner plate.  I’ve gone through the images now one full pass so I have an idea of what’s coming next and again I let my instincts guide my fingers.  And the 2 star images are the images I’ll share with my most loved ones and those that were on vacation with me.

For the 3rd, 4th, and 5th stars I use them to gage my audience .  I keep using the stars to weed out the lesser images until I’m down to the very best I have.  And I’ll show different ratings to different groups.  My friends I’ll show the 3 star images to.  The 4 stars for a dinner party, maybe like 10 minutes worth of images.  The 5 star images get displayed at my funeral.  Just keep going back to the “Rated” button and displaying progressively better and better work. 

In a few hours with a little practice you can make short work of masses of images using WLPG.  It’s the same tool the pro’s use and it’s available to everyone.  Done.

William Bossen – Techspert on board the MS Massdam


One Response to “Using the Star Rating System in Windows Live Photo Gallery”

  1. sandyrose2546 April 24, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    I know this was covered in a class I took and I can’t find it on any of my handouts. I want to insert a person into a picture. I have two shots, one of me not in the picture, someone jumped out and took another picture leaving a space for me to insert myself. Help, I can’t seem to figure out how to do this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: