I take tons of pictures of my family, and sometimes it is nice to rate them so they can be sorted by rating in explorer view.

Apparently (and I probably don't have this perfect) the star rating you get in Windows Explorer at the bottom of the window in Vista is ignored by the rating given in Windows Photo Gallery, which is ignored by the rating given in Windows Live Photo Gallery, and maybe is also ignored by the default photo preview.

Regardless, I would like my ratings to stay around and not to have to be re-done, preferably to the next Windows OS or two. What is the best way?


I use the default Microsoft tools in Vista and Win 7 (Windows Explorer and Picture Viewer, Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Live Photo Gallery) and the star ratings and descriptive tags are all used the same way by all the methods, and they all save the rating into the metadata in the picture file so that other apps can re-use the info you've entered. With Photo Gallery and Live Photo Gallery there may be a slight delay before they pick up changes made by one of the other apps as they have to index all of the files before they spot what's changed, but leave them open for 10 minutes and everything should be in sync. The only exception to this is if your files are set to Read Only, in these cases the info won't be written to the file, and won't be readable by the other tools.

Other third party tools like Picasa keep their ratings info, etc in their own database, and don't (by default) write the info to a file, so if you rate a picture in Picasa, it will still show as unrated in all other tools (eg Windows Photo Gallery).

I use these methods and only use tools (like the Microsoft ones) that write to the file's metadata, as I keep my photos on a share on my home network that can be accessed by our desktop, or any of our laptops and this way all of the ratings, tags, etc that we add can be seen by any of us on any of the PCs in the house, they can even be saved to a disc or USB and given to someone else, and they can see all of the ratings and tags too, if they're interested.

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  • Hmmm, I tested this on Vista and got different results than you describe on Win 7. I will have to test it. – John Robertson Apr 26 '11 at 18:53
  • @John I did it this way for a long time on Vista, with all the Microsoft tools using the same tags/ratings(hence the inclusion of Windows Photo Gallery which isn't available on 7). You do have to leave the 'Gallery' programs open for a while to let them read all the info from your files. Also don't close Windows Photo Gallery while it has the 'pencil' icon in the bottom left corner that shows it's still writing to your files. – GAThrawn Apr 26 '11 at 19:26

Use a 3rd party program like Picasa to manage your photos or better yet Adobe Bridge if you have a copy :)

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  • Why give a negative.. this is a perfectly good suggestion. He wants to be able to safely migrate his ratings to newer OS's... using something like Picasa will let him do that and its a great viewer/organizer with facial recognition which is very useful for family photos. It may use a database but it does that so you can have multiple users rating the same photos and not overwriting each others metadata. – Riguez Apr 26 '11 at 16:20

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