Xara Picture Editor is a small program that's bundled with the Xara Xtreme software. Double-click any bitmap inside Xara Xtreme to summon the Xara Picture Editor. Alternatively, Xara Picture Editor also works independently as a picture viewer and editor on its own.
Once you install Xara Xtreme, Xara Picture Editor will take over the default file association of all your bitmap formats. I wish it asked the user before doing that. Yet, for most users, Xara Picture Editor is a great alternative to the built-in Picture Viewer that comes as part of Windows XP.
Xara Picture Editor provides the basic, most commonly required photo features like quick preview, resize, straighten, crop, and enhance pictures. It also works with photo plug-ins, removes red-eye and applies 3D bump maps.
To launch Xara Picture Editor, go to your Windows Start menu and choose All Programs | Xara | XPE. This opens the Xara Picture Editor interface shown in the screenshot below.
Figure 1: The Xara Picture Editor interface
As you can see, the Xara Picture Editor interface is very simple and almost mimics the Windows Picture Viewer interface. But that's where the similarity ends, Xara Picture Editor offers a range of picture viewing and editing facilities through live interactive tools which are at the bottom of the interface as in separate icons (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: All the Xara Picture Editor tools
Here's a list of all the tools, as referenced to the numbers found in Figure 2.
- This set of tools are for opening (Ctrl+O) and saving (Ctrl+S) images.
- This set of navigation buttons is for viewing the previous (left arrow on the keyboard) or next (right arrow on the keyboard) picture file in the same folder from where the current image is opened. If Xara Picture Editor is being used from within Xara Xtreme, these controls won't be activated.
- This set of tools control the zooming options for viewing the image. The three tools are for BestFit (Ctrl+B), Actual Size (Ctrl+A), and Zoom (Alt+Z). The last tool in this set brings up a small dialog box that has a live zoom slider (see Figure 3).
- This set of tools includes three tools - the leftmost and rightmost tools rotates the image by 90 degrees clockwise and counter-clockwise. The middle tool opens another dialog box where by using the slider or by entering a numeric angle, the image can be rotated.
- This is the Enhance tool (Ctrl+E) that brings up the Auto Enhance and manual enhance options. While Auto Enhance does an automatic, intelligent enhance, the manual option allows control to alter the brightness, contrast, color saturation, or sharpness of the photos by dragging the appropriate slider. The Compare button reverts back to un-enhanced original picture.
- This is the plug-in tool that allows you to use installed Photoshop compatible plug-in effects on the image. A few plug-ins are bundled within the program, more can be installed.
- This tool allows you to crop an image, set the height and the width for cropping, and move the mouse pointer to the approximate top left of the area you wish to crop. Click the left mouse button and drag down to the right to create a crop rectangle and crop the image.
- Red-eye is a common problem caused by camera flashes. Xara Picture Editor provides an intuitive way to tackle this issue. Just click in the center of the eye pupil and drag outwards until you are done.
- The 3D BumpMap tool can create an interesting textured, 3D light surface to the photos.
- The Delete tool is used for deleting the image.
- The Send to Windows Picture Viewer lets you send the open image to the Windows Picture Viewer.
- The Edits tool provides a complete list of edits you've done on an image so far. It also lets you to alter the settings of edits by selecting it from the list and by clicking 'Edit' button or remove the edit entirely, by clicking 'Remove' button. It's a great way to undo.
- The last tool brings up the Xara Picture Editor help screen.
You can find more about Xara Picture Editor on the Xara web site.