Choosing File Associations for Picture Files
Many readers have written to say that when they got a new graphics program their image files switched to the new application for display and editing; and they now ask how to choose another program for these actions.
Well, digital cameras, scanners, and other devices often come with their own image-editing software. When these programs are installed they normally ask if you would like to have your image "file associations" access the new software. Many people choose YES without really understanding the question.
WinXP comes with its own "Windows Picture & Fax Viewer," which is the default application that opens when JPG, GIF, BMP, or other bitmap image files are double-clicked. This happens because the default "file associations" of these images look for this particular application. If you prefer another image-editor, you can right-click any picture icon and choose "Open With," whereupon all such programs will be listed.
If you then click "Choose Program" an option to "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file" will be offered. Whichever program you choose will then become the default for working with pictures in the future. This can be done in Win98 by right-clicking the filename while holding down SHIFT, after which you should find "Open With" options similar to the above.
If you are new to working with digital pictures, you might wonder which image-editor is best, and if you should consider getting a program that is more comprehensive than whatever you have. Well, all versions of Windows come with a program called
Paint (a.k.a. PaintBrush or PBrush) which can be accessed at Start>Programs>Accessories>Paint.
How is this program different from the Picture & Fax Viewer?
Well, it has drawing tools for creating original images or adding things to existing ones. It also offers font options for superimposing text on an image. Other options include changing a picture's dimensions, as well as editing its colors on a bit-by-bit basis.
However, as image-editors go, Paint is relatively under-powered. Professionals buy programs like Adobe PhotoShop or Corel Paint Shop Pro.
However, I also use Irfanview, a free program available from
www.irfanview.com. Furthermore, I use Irfanview as my default picture-opening program. Why? Well, it is quick and easy-to-use; and it handles most of what I need to do when opening an image — such as re-sizing it, cropping it, or changing its brightness, darkness and contrast levels.
If I need to do more sophisticated things, such as adding text, I click its Copy icon and Paste the picture into PhotoPaint or Paint Shop Pro.
Irfanview also works great on "screen shots." If, for instance, you find a picture online that can't be downloaded, press your PrtSc (print screen) key. Launch Irfanview and click its Paste icon. Everything that was visible on your screen will now become an Irfanview image. Use the pointer tool to crop the target section, and the scissors icon to Cut it. Finally, click the Paste icon to end up with the picture you wanted.
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