Managing Edits in the Windows Vista Photo Gallery

Windows Vista includes a number of new editing features that were not in previous versions of Windows.  You can read about them in this previous post.


One of the problems we saw with Windows XP is that users often create multiple copies of their photos when they edit.  Often this is done to preserve the original copy, much like the way a negative works in film photography.  As a result, multiple copies of the same photo end up all over the hard drive.  Many users combat this with complex naming strategies or folder hierarchies.  Other users don’t keep backups and just save over the originals, losing pieces of the image they may someday want.


In the Windows Vista Photo Gallery we solve these issues by creating a copy of the image the first time you edit it in the Photo Gallery.  We do this automatically so you don’t have to worry about saving an original copy yourself.  If you have been playing with Windows Vista you probably have noticed the Revert button becomes enabled after edits are saved from the Photo Gallery.


Anytime in the future you can get back to the original photo by “reverting” the file.  To do this:

  • Open the file in the Gallery Viewer

  • Click the “Fix” button on the command menu

  • Click the “Revert” button, which is located at the bottom of the fix pane.  It’s part of the Undo menu.

  • The revert button prompts you to confirm you want to do this.  Reverting is one action the Windows Vista Photo Gallery can’t undo.

If you do want to keep 2 copies of image you can use the “Make a Copy…” task under the file menu to create a copy of an image.  You can edit and revert those files separately.  This is useful for certain edits like cropping and de-saturating which may result in images that you want multiple copies of.


A nice aspect of this feature is that it freed us up to auto-save your changes without explicitly asking you whether you want to over-write the previous version.  If you change your mind, you can always get back to the original. This makes the workflow for fixing photos much quicker.


You do have some control over how Windows Vista manages the original images which are created.  Click File->Options to get to the options dialog.  One the first tab there is a section entitled “Original Images”.  Here you can tell Windows Vista how long it should keep your originals around.  You might decide for disk space reasons that you really don’t want to keep originals older than 6 months.


If you are using the Windows Vista Backup utility it will automatically backup your originals if you select the option to backup photographs and images.  If you are using a 3rd party backup program you should make sure that the original images directory is included in the list of items to back up.  By default the originals are stored in the AppData folder under each user folder.  The path on my Beta 2 machine is: c:\Users\john\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Original Images. It is possible to open that directory and view your images.  Keep in mind though you shouldn’t alter these files as they are the originals.


– John Thornton (Program Manager)

Comments (4)

  1. Kdbertel says:

    This is a bit off-topic but, every time I see a screenshot of the home directory (is there a name for it yet?) in the latest Vista builds, I don’t see the folder "AppData". Has it become a hidden folder or something? How easy is it to back up along with everything else?

  2. Windows Vista Automatically Protects Original Digital Photos

  3. Xavez says:

    Wouldn’t that consume twice the disc space for every single photo? Is there a way to turn it off? Is there a way to "remove the oldest version"?

    I’m only concerned about the feature taking up way too much space and I think there should ALWAYS be a way to turn features like that off (or tweak them, at least)

  4. Xavez says:

    PS: I mean, are there any other settings except for the time you want to keep the original image 🙂