Working with images in AncestryPress
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Family photos are the heart and soul of any AncestryPress project, and we've just added several new features that make it easier to showcase your photos through a custom book or poster.

Picasa and SmugMug

AncestryPress is now integrated with Picasa and SmugMug, two leading photo sharing web sites. So if you've uploaded your vacation photos to Picasa, for example, you can import your Picasa web album into AncestryPress and use those photos in your AncestryPress project.

Within AncestryPress you'll see four main content trays on the left side of the screen: My Photos, Online Photos, Other Content and Ancestry Records. If you click My Photos, you'll see all the images you've uploaded directly to AncestryPress. If you click Online Photos, you'll see any images you've imported from Picasa or SmugMug. To import your photos, go to the Online Photos section and click the Import Photos' button. A dialogue box will appear. Select the correct photo site (Picasa or SmugMug) and then enter your user name and password for that site. Hit the OK' button to start the import process.

AncestryPress will import all of your Picasa or SmugMug albums at the same time. In the Online Photos directory, each album will appear in a separate folder. If you are a Picasa user, please note that AncestryPress will only import photos from your web albums; it cannot access any photos that you've saved in Picasa's desktop program.

Let's say you've imported all the photos in your SmugMug albums into AncestryPres, and then a couple of weeks later you upload a new batch of photos to SmugMug. To import those new photos into AncestryPress, just go to the Online Photos section and hit the "Refresh" button.

Image Boxes

Our new image box feature lets you create your own page layout templates. Let's say you get a page laid out just how you like it, but then you come back later and decide to swap out a photo. Instead of cropping, resizing and rotating the new image so that it sits in exactly the same spot as the old image, you can just drag the new image over and place it on top of the old one. The new image will automatically adjust to fill up the box' ? the space defined by the old image.

Here's a really simple example. Let's say I like the layout of this particular page, but I want to use a different photo.


Click to enlarge image

This photo has a portrait aspect ratio (it's taller than it is wide), but the new photo is landscape (wider than it is tall). Instead of cropping and resizing the new photo, I just place it on top of the old one. Note that when you drag an image over an image box, a blue outline appears.


Click to enlarge image

Anything outside the box automatically gets cut off. In this case, I don't want to cut off my dad's elbow, so I move the new photo to right a bit.


Click to enlarge image

When I'm satisfied with how the image inside the box looks, I just click somewhere else on the page (anywhere besides where the images are) and the photo replacement is complete.


Click to enlarge image

Of course, you can always delete the old photo and start fresh with a new photo, using the image editing tools to create the look you want. But if you like the layout of a page and you just want to swap out a photo without too much fuss ? or if you've created a photo collage page that you want to use as a template for other pages ? image boxes are a handy tool that will save you some time.

You don't need to do anything to turn this feature on: any photo that you place on a page will automatically function as an image box when you put a new photo on top of it. If you replace a photo by accident, no worries ? just hit the Undo icon at the top of the screen to get the original photo back.

We've also added image boxes to the templates for family trees, family group sheets and timelines. When you create a page using one of these templates, you'll see gray boxes with the words, PLACE IMAGE HERE.

Here are a couple of examples:


Click to enlarge image


Click to enlarge image

If you have a photo of one of the people on the page, just place it on top of the image box and it will automatically adjust to the correct dimensions. If you don't have a photo for a particular person, you can just ignore the image box ? it will not show up when you print the page.

Keep in mind that you can still place photos on a page using the same free-form process that you're used to in AncestryPress. The new image box feature does not replace or change any of the image editing tools ? it's just another option that's useful in some situations. I'd love to hear your feedback on this particular feature. Do you find it helpful' Is it easy to use' (Note: please read my response to Joycelyn's comment below for more detail about how the image boxes work.)

You can also use text boxes as templates in a very similar way. When you drop a new block of text into an existing text box, the new text automatically takes on the formatting and position of the original text box.

Image Size Meter

Another nifty feature that makes it easy to work with images is our new size meter. As you scale an image up or down, the meter adjusts to tell you the exact height and width of the image ? in inches ? at any point in time. To see the size of the image, just click on the bottom left corner of the image or click and hold one of the crop icons (the little boxes that appear on each side of the image when the image is highlighted).


Click to enlarge image

If you click on an image and continue to hold down the mouse key, you'll see another meter that tells you the exact position of the image relative to the left side of the page (the first number you see) and the top of the page (the second number). To see the angle of the image, just click and hold the Rotate icon (the swirly arrow).

We'll be adding lots of new features just in time for Mother's Day, so be sure to check back in a couple of weeks to see what's new!

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NOTE: AncestryPress is now MyCanvas

In October 2008, AncestryPress was relaunched under the name MyCanvas. It is still a free, online software program provided by For current information about products and features, please see my more recent blog posts.