Shortly after my last post, in which I showed how to activate Photoshop thumbnails in Windows Explorer, I was made aware of the PSD Codec by Ardfry Imaging, which promises similar and better results. For $ 19.95, it will display Photoshop preview images not only in the Explorer, but also in the Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows 7’s Media Center. Also, this codec is able to read XMP, IPTC, and EXIF metadata from .psd files, so you can even use them as search criteria in the Windows Desktop Search.
I decided to test this little tool. First I must say that I’m still working with Windows XP on my computer. Should read: Neither do I have a Windows Photo Gallery, nor a Media Center, nor a Desktop Search. Same for the Windows Live Photo Gallery, which – like everything else that begins with “Windows Live” – I have never used. Not the best conditions to test this program, huh?
Well, I still wanted to try and test as many features as possible. I found out that you can post-install Desktop Search for XP (link). After about an hour of microsoft-typical downloading, installation and indexing problems, I could finally search stuff – and indeed, all .psd files in the Desktop Search have a small thumbnail now. However, the area to the right, where a larger preview should usually appear, still remains empty.
Let’s get to the second test: searching and displaying metadata from .psd files. Metadata are information like file creation date, author, or image width and height. Normally, Windows cannot access these data in .psd files, but thanks to the PSD codec, it’s working, too:
Windows Live Photo Gallery
Finally, I set about to install the Windows Live Photo Gallery – actually just an ordinary image management program and almost exactly the same as the above mentioned Windows Photo Gallery that comes with Vista by default. Again, it took me several attempts until download and installation were successful, but eventually I could see the improvement that the PSD codec brings to the Photo Gallery: While before, the “unknown” .psd files were not even displayed as a symbol, they are now available as thumbnails like any other image file.
To XP users, this codec will probably not be of too much use in most cases. I guess, the least have Desktop Search installed – if they know of its existence at all. (I didn’t know it before writing this post … and won’t be using it in the future either, because I find it very unpractical and insufficient.) But even if you actually use it, the codec only adds a small thumbnail to it, while the larger preview is still not working. According to Ardfry, such a preview is only possible in XP by using an additional image viewer – which raises the question whether the codec makes any sense for XP at all, because then you could simply install a .psd-enabled image management program like XnView and browse your files with that.
Only for users of the Windows Live Photo Gallery, the codec should be a very nice improvement.
The situation is different in Windows 7: Desktop Search, Photo Gallery and Media Center are included from the beginning and are probably being used by most people more often. Here, the codec can really give proof of its use in many places and facilitate your life greatly.