Like a lot of people these days, I have a digital camera, which means I have a lot of image files on my computer. They seem to multiply like bunnies. Even though I have photo-album software, I find that I still often browse through photos using the built-in Windows XP Picture and Fax Viewer. It’s extremely fast and on most systems is the default program that comes up when you double click an image file. (If it isn’t you can right-click in the file list, select Open With, and select it.)
In any case, even though I’ve spent a lot of time in it, I haven’t really explored the program’s options. Recently, I discovered that you can print out thumbnails of your pictures. In the world of photography, printouts of thumbnail images are called “proof sheets” or “contact sheets.” When you had a professional photo taken, the photographer might have shown you a bunch of small “proof” images, so you could select the best one for enlargement. The principle is the same here: putting lots of little pictures all on one page.
If you need hard copies of your photos for cross-referencing purposes, printing contact sheets is a great option. And since the software comes free with Windows, the price is right.
First you need to go into Windows Explorer and find the folder where the photos you want to print are located. Now change the View drop-down to Thumbnails. Click to highlight the first picture you want on the proof sheet and hold down the Shift key. Then click to highlight the last one you want. You’ll notice all the images in between are selected as well. If you want to select non-contiguous files, hold down the Ctrl key while you click instead. If you want all the files in the folder, press Ctrl+A to select all.
Once you have the photos you want highlighted, right click and select Preview, which opens the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer with the first image showing. Now click the little printer button at the bottom of the screen or press Ctrl+P. Either command runs a print wizard that lets you select the pictures you want to print and the printer. Click Next to go through the wizard. When you get to the Layout page, scroll down so you can select “Contact Sheet.” You can see how your images will look on the page in the preview.
After you make your selections and finish the wizard, your contact sheet heads off to the printer you selected.