This post was written as a Window Champions Blogger. Products and devices received.
It’s that time of year where the weather has finally warmed up and there are many wonderful reasons to celebrate. With graduation parties and Father’s Day get togethers along with backyard barbecues and the 4th of July around the corner everyone is immersed in summer party planning.
That’s why I’m excited to be one of the Windows Champions blogger. As part of the program I’ve learned a lot about Windows 8.1 and recently I discovered some amazing new ways the operating system can help you. I’m excited to share how you can plan the perfect summer party using Windows 8.1.
Stay On Track & Get Inspired By Your Start Screen
Windows 8.1 makes it so easy to customize your Start Screen. You can click and drag the tiles around where you need them. If you right click on them you can resize them and even turn on or off the live tile option. Through the Store you can search for any number of apps that will help you with your party preparation. I recently set up my Start Screen for some party planning and here’s a look at how I organized it so I can have the information I need most accessible and easy to view, as well as which apps I selected to help me plan a memorable party.
The App Store Can Help
As I mentioned above there are so many apps out there that selecting the ones to help you with your planning can be a little daunting. They even have collections where you can find related apps together which is very helpful. Here’s a list of the apps I showcased in the video above:
- Calendar – helps you easily see what day it is
- Desktop – I made this tile large so I can easily click it to hop over to the desktop when I need to
- eVites – an easy way to invite your guests to your summer shindig
- Countdown To – a simple way to start a countdown clock so you can see how many days left until your party
- Bing Weather – helps you keep an eye on the weather for party day
- OneDrive – a great place to store all your party documents like rsvps, schedules, emails and more so you can access them across all of your devices
- Bing Food & Drink – the pictures of delicious dishes offer inspiring ideas
- Party Food – helps you figure out how many drinks and how much food you need for the amount of people coming
- AllRecipes & CookBook – more recipe ideas and inspiration at the click of a tile
- to-dos – this tile is like a to do list on your Start Screen, you type in the list of things you have to do and it displays them in a tile so you always know what you need to check off
- Xbox Music – this app makes it easy to put together great party tunes
- Party Themes – a simple way to get many party ideas and inspiration
- Bing Maps – a easy way to get your guests directions
- Amazon – perfect for a little pre-party or last minute shopping
- Internet Explorer – great for when you need to browse the internet for anything and everything party related
- Store – the place to find all of these great apps and more
- Camera – this app makes it easy to snap some party pictures with your device
- Photoscape – an incredibly impressive and easy to use photo editing app
- Movie Maker – a great way to create a keepsake by making a movie from the party photos and videos
- Dropbox – a simple way to share those party photos and videos with family and friends
Share Memories Through SlideShows
Did you know that Windows 8.1 on desktops and laptops offers multiple ways to share your photos through slideshows? Here are three of my favorite:
Windows Photo Gallery Screen Saver
- Right click in any blank space on the desktop
- Click “Personalize”
- Click “Screen Saver”
- Select “Photo Gallery” from the drop down box below the words “screen saver”
- Click “Settings”
- Click “Browse” next to “Use Photos & Videos from”
- Select the folder you would like the Screen Saver to use to display the pictures
- Check out the theme and slide show speeds, set them to your preference
- Click “Save” and that box will close
- Select the time you want the computer to wait before the Slide Show starts
- Click “Apply” and then “OK”
That’s it. Now your Windows Photo Gallery Screen Saver will start playing after the time of inactivty you requested has passed. I like this Slide Show Screen Saver because you can also use the left and right arrows on the keyboard to go backward and forward through the photos. So if there’s one that went by and you want to see it again, simply click the left arrow until you see it. Sometimes if you’re lucky too it will be videos as well. There’s no sound which is fine and it seems to be a bit finicky about this but when it works it’s a great way to relive all those old photos and videos.
I also love the many transition options with this slideshow as well. In addition to the classics there’s also Collage, Glass, Travel, Frame, Random, and more. They are such eye-catching and creative ways to view your photos and videos your party guests are sure to be impressed.
Manually Start A Windows Photo Gallery Slide Show
Instead of waiting for a screen saver slide show to start or worrying about it turning off if anyone bumps the desk or table the computer is on, you can manually start a Windows Photo Gallery Slide Show as well.
- Go to Windows 8.1 Start Screen
- Either start typing or go to the search bar & type in “Photo Gallery”
- Click “Photo Gallery” and it will open up
- Select the photos and videos you want to appear in the slide show, hold down the Ctrl key to select more than one photo
- You click the slideshow button on the bottom right to start the slide show right away or click Slide Show near the top right to access some slide show options such as Pan & Zoom, Fade, Sepia, etc.
I love how easy this Photo Gallery Slide Show is to set up and that while the slide show is running you can again use the left and right arrows to move back and forth through the photos and videos. You can also change the theme between the options, so if you selected Pan & Zoom you can change it to Fade or Sepia or any of the others. You can also make a movie of your slide show and share it on social media as well with a few clicks of the buttons at the top left of the screen. I like that you can count on this slideshow to play both your photos and your videos and the transitions are a nice touch. Also here’s a great tip that I just learned, if you don’t select any photos or videos, or if you only select one picture, the slide show will play all of the pictures and videos in the current view of the Photo Gallery.
Display A Slide Show On Your Lock Screen
You can also display a slide show on your computer lock screen which is a nice feature. It’s easier to set up then you would think as well.
- Pull out your Charms Bar (where you find Search, Devices, Settings etc.)
- At the very bottom click “Change PC Settings”
- Click “PC & Devices”
- Click “Lock Screen” if it doesn’t automatically take you there
- Click the slider bar next to “Play a slide show on the Lock Screen” to “On”
- Look below that at the defaults and if you are happy with it pulling photos from your Pictures folder you are all set, if you’d like to change it simply remove the folders show and click the “Add” button to add the folder you would like it to pull from
- To send your computer to your lock screen manually so you can check the slide show simply hold down the Windows Logo button and the letter L
You change the time that the lock screen slide show starts playing by right clicking in any blank space on the desktop and selecting “Personalization” and then “Screen Saver” and “Power Settings.” It doesn’t say “Lock Screen” specifically but you set it to when you want the computer to turn off etc. That’s why if you want to start it up at the party simply click the Windows Logo button and the letter L. Give it about 30 seconds and it will start playing.
Here’s a video tutorial I made for this and it gives you a good look at the slide show and its transitions:
The Lock Screen Slide Show has some nice transitions it displays photos nicely. One thing to note is this slide show does not play videos as far as I can tell.
While these are some simple ideas to help get your summer party planning on the right track. Windows 8.1 has many more features to offer as well. You can learn more by checking out the Windows Experience Blog and following the #WindowsChampions hashtag on Twitter.
What about you? What’s your favorite summer party planning tip?