The Office 2003 “Upgrade” Surprise
I’m a creature of
habit. Some folks might just stop at creature. But, they’re creatures of habit, too. But, I digress.
In any case, part of my being a creature of habit is that when I get
used to doing something one way, new ways
can be unsettling. New ways can be especially irksome if they rob me
of features I need.
So, when I installed
Office 2003, imagine my surprise the first time I double-clicked a picture.
Instead of seeing my trusty MS Photo Editor spring to life, the garish
Microsoft Office Picture Manager (MOPM) took control, instead. The focus
had changed from editing to management. The idea no longer was to edit a
given picture. The idea was to manage a
collection of them.
On the surface, the
latter might not be a bad thing. I have tens of thousands of pictures,
and some help in managing
them might not be unwelcome. However, at the moment, I needed to create
a .gif file with a transparent background for a web page, and I couldn’t
find that capability in MOPM.
Sometimes less is more
So, I right-clicked,
saw Edit Pictures, proclaimed Ah ha! and clicked. Hmmm. Not much there. So, I explored each and every editing option. I
discovered that I could auto correct, fix red eye, compress, resize,
crop, rotate… Gee, crop rotation. What next?
Not much, as it turns
out. That turns out to be pretty much the full slate of MOPM’s menu of
editing tools. Gone is MS Photo Editor's array of creative and amusing
tools that can keep me entertained for hours. Gone, especially, is the
ability to change background colors and convert a .jpg into a .gif with
a transparent background.
However, if all you
want to do is fix the colors and shrink a photo before putting it onto
the web or sending it out to friends, then MOPM’s editing tools might
actually serve you better than Photo Editor. A quick click on Auto Correct removes the mushiness. Choose
the Export task pane, and choosing the correct
size for the web is a bit more straightforward than trying to guess what
size you need using Photo Editor.
Another cool trick
is the ability to work with multiple pictures at once. Choose Thumbnail or Filmstrip View,
select half a dozen pictures, click Auto Correct. Hey! It fixed all of
them at the same time! It can also flip a bunch of pictures at the same
time. I might actually have some use for MOPM!
Once you’ve made
changes, when you go to close MOPM, it shows you all of the changed pictures
and asks if you want to save the changes. Thank goodness it didn’t just
write the changes to disk without asking!
searching through the entire interface, on some scores, MOPM comes up seriously
short of some features and capabilities, such as the ability to smudge, sharpen
or set a transparent color. The latter is useful when you want to create
a .gif with a transparent background for a web page, or for another application
when you don’t want an annoying rectangle showing up.
MOPM also lacks Photo
Editor’s rich array of Effects, which can help you turn just about any
photo into a work of art. Watercolor and Stained Glass are especially
useful in creating artistic effects. Lacking any of Monet’s impressionistic
talent, Photo Editor fills that gap by letting me turn a city or country
landscape into collage of colors that comes into focus only as you step
away from it.
So, despite MOPM’s
obvious utility for performing some tasks, I knew that doing without
Photo Editor was too much to ask.
So, I went searching
for Photo Editor. Surely, I thought, Office 2003 wouldn’t have removed
that useful tool. Surely, it’s simply added this additional tool. Microsoft
can’t possibly believe that MOPM is a full replacement for Photo Editor.
can. Not only wasn’t Photo Editor my default anymore, it had left the
Photo Editor back
The first question
to enter my mind was: Is there a
compatibility problem? Perhaps Microsoft removed Photo Editor
because it didn’t work with Office 2003. Nope. True, it’s not at all
integrated into the framework of Office 2003. But, then again, neither
really is MOPM. But, Photo Editor can and does work fine side by side
with Office 2003, as well as with MOPM. The two in concert/tandem can
make for a pretty good set of picture editing and management tools.
I dug through my
stack of CDs, fished out my Office XP CD, inserted it, navigated to MS
Photo Editor, and reinstalled it. I also needed to retain access to Word
XP, so I had told Office 2003 to leave it in place. So, a number of Office
XP features were already still on my system.
If you left any vestiges
of Office XP on your system, choose Start – Settings – Control Panel – Add or Remove Programs – Microsoft
Office XP – Change – Add or Remove… - Next. Microsoft Photo
Editor is listed under Office Tools. You’ll be prompted to insert the
CD at the appropriate time.
If you didn’t leave
any of Office XP on your system, then you’ll need to insert the Office
XP CD, and ultimately navigate to the same location.
After monkeying with
XP setup, you might find that the next time your run an Office 2003 program,
it might tell you that
it’s installing something. Feed it the Office 2003 CD if prompted. Don’t
worry. It just needs to grab a few files that XP rudely overwrote.
reinstalled Photo Editor, when you right-click a supported graphic, the Open
With choices should now include Microsoft Photo Editor. If setup reset Photo
Editor as the default, and if you don’t want it to be the default, you can
reestablish MOPM as the default. In Windows Explorer, right-click on a file
whose Open behavior you want to change. Choose Open
With, then Choose Program. In the Open With dialog
box, select the program you want to use (e.g., Microsoft Office Picture Manager),
click to enable the Always use the selected
program to open this kind of file, and click OK. Or, if reinstalling Microsoft Photo Editor doesn’t reinstated
it as the default, you can use the Open With…Chose Program trick to do it.
So, why would I need
to create a picture with a transparent background? If you look to the
previous paragraph, I think you’ll find the reason to be somewhat transparent.
And, yes. You have just been mooned.