A client who is a realtor presented me with an opportunity to get reacquainted with built-in capabilities of Windows XP that I rarely use. In this case, my computer-illiterate client needed a recommendation for image-editing software.

Personally, I use Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite 2 (CS2) and CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3, neither of which I'd recommend to this client, who didn't plan to spend the time necessary to master the applications. Before describing the capabilities of various applications, I asked the client how he planned to use the software. He said he wanted to be able to resize the images he provided to his Webmaster for online listings, add simple captions, and do some form of marking on the images, such as circling or highlighting features.

I told him he already had the tools he needed for those simple tasks: Microsoft Paint and Microsoft Office Picture Manager. Microsoft Paint isn't a full-fledged editing tool, but it works well for the simple task of adding text or drawing lines. It has no trouble loading the JPEG images produced by point-and-shoot cameras, regardless of resolution, and it easily saves modified copies of the images.

For resizing, I showed him how to use Microsoft Office Picture Manager, which is part of Microsoft Office 2003. For his purposes it was perfect, as he could select all of the pictures in a folder and resize them to the same dimensions. The application offers the additional advantage of basic image editing capabilities, which I showed him how to use to make the pictures he was modifying look better.

At some point he might decide he needs a more comprehensive image-management application, but between Paint and Picture Manager he was able to achieve the results he needed without buying an additional piece of software and dealing with the learning curve required to master it.

Tip--Viewing Images in Windows XP

If you've been unable to view images with Windows XP’s Windows Picture and Fax Viewer and you can't see thumbnails when you're browsing folders that contain images, it's because the OS has lost the proper registration of the Shimgvw.dll file. To fix this problem, do the following:

1. Close all Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) windows.
2. Click Start, Run.
3. In the Run dialog box, type

regsvr32 /s %systemroot%\system32\shimgvw.dll

4. Click OK.

At this point, you should be able to view thumbnails properly. To check that the viewer works correctly, do the following:

1. Open a folder that contains images.
2. Right-click an image.
3. Select Preview from the context menu.