Madelyn writes, "I want to make a photo slideshow with music for my friend’s upcoming 60th birthday party. Is there an easy way to make one in Windows?"
You’re in luck, Madelyn, because there is an easy (and free) piece of software you can use called Windows Movie Maker. This program, which is made by Microsoft, comes pre-installed on some PCs, so check in your start menu to see if you have it. If you don’t already have it, you can download it from Microsoft’s site here.
When you open Windows Movie Maker, you’ll see a big box that says “Click here to browse for photos and videos”. You can import your photos through that menu, or you can just drag and drop them into that box from any folder on your computer.
Once you have some photos imported, that box will transform into a timeline where they are arranged sequentially. You can drop and drop photos around on the timeline to rearrange them. To add music, simply click the “Add Music” button at the top.
From our experience, the really time-consuming part of making a slideshow is getting your photos synchronized to the music you pick. Luckily, this is where Windows Movie Maker really shines. Look for the "Fit to Music" button in the "Project" tab at the top of the screen - this will automatically change the length of your slideshow pictures so they fit perfectly to the length of your music.
Once you’ve put the finishing touches on your slideshow, Windows Movie Maker gives you a few different options for presenting it: save the project as a file, upload it to YouTube, or burn it to a DVD.
If you can hook your laptop to your friend’s TV, either saving the slideshow as a file you can play from your computer or putting it on YouTube is the easiest way to show it to your friends. If you go this route, we highly recommend connecting your laptop using an HDMI cable, because they’re easy to connect and will give you great picture and sound. Most modern laptops have HDMI outputs, and almost all HDTVs have HDMI inputs. You can purchase an HDMI cable from basically any store that sells electronics.
Or, if your laptop or the TV doesn’t have HDMI, you can always burn a DVD.