Hi, again, I’m Tucker Hatfield, a Program Manager on the Office Graphics team with another post on improvements for using pictures in documents in Office 2010. This time we’re looking at the improvements to cropping pictures in Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook.
When planning our new features for this version of Office, we did a lot of research to find out more about the common tasks people do with pictures in Office. Cropping was overwhelmingly the most-used bit of editing used on pictures, so one of the first things we started work on was making cropping an easier-to-use and more powerful tool.
First of all, we wanted crop to allow you to see both what you were keeping and what you’d cropped out of an image. As an example, let’s say I wanted to insert this picture in my document, but I wanted to emphasize the flower by cropping out the leaves.
To do this, I would go to the Picture Tools contextual tab and select Crop to go into cropping mode.
In previous versions of Office, when you moved the crop handles anything outside of the crop rectangle became invisible, which can make it hard to quickly find the best cropping for a picture.
Positioning the crop area is easier now, too. You can click on the picture and “slide” it around behind the crop frame or grab the crop frame and move it around over the picture. This makes fine-tuning what you want to be visible much easier.
Normally when you go into cropping mode the cropping rectangle starts out the same size as the original picture. We realized that there are going to be times when you want to trim a picture to a specific ratio, so we added a drop-down menu to allow you to choose the initial proportions of the crop frame.
Choosing a size will make the original crop rectangle start out at that proportion, fitted to the bounds of the picture. Note that we’ve included 16:9 and 16:10 in the Landscape section, in order to make formatting pictures to fit widescreen easier.
Once you’ve chosen an aspect ratio, the crop rectangle can then be resized freely or you can press Shift while you resize from the corners to retain the aspect ratio. Below is an example where I’ve selected the 1:1 aspect ratio.
But what if you don’t want a simple rectangle? You may know that you could apply a shape to a picture using Picture Shape in previous versions of Office. However, when you did, getting the shape oriented the way you wanted it relative to the picture was usually a matter of editing numbers by trial and error in crop section of the Size dialog.
In 2010 we’ve moved the shapes gallery to the Crop button, where making an image fit in a shape can done very easily visually by choosing Crop to Shape.
Since you can resize the shape and move the shape relative to the picture, getting exactly the result you want is now very easy.
Of course, then you can add shape effects to make the result really pop.
Another common source of frustration for our users occurs when they insert a shape and put a picture fill in it. The normal behavior is that when the picture is filled in the shape it gets squished down to fit inside the shape. We’ve preserved that as the default behavior because we know some customers rely on it not changing, but we’ve made fitting pictures in shapes easier by allowing you to use the crop mode on filled shapes, too. By going into crop mode you can manually resize the image to the proportions you want. To make things even easier we’ve added options to automatically Fill or Fit pictures into the shape. Simply click on one of these options and Fill will scale the picture to completely fill the shape while retaining the proportions of the original picture, while Fit will scale the picture so that it fits entirely within the shape. The examples below show the difference.
We’ve also enabled cropping for pictures in SmartArt graphics. If you’ve ever tried using pictures in a SmartArt graphic and been frustrated by the way the image fits, you’ll find that fixing that is much easier now. You can resize and reposition the picture to make it look the way you want. Just to make sure you don’t accidentally change the layout of the shapes in your SmartArt graphic, we lock the shape so it can’t be moved when you’re in cropping mode. You can still easily move or resize the picture shape when not in cropping mode, of course.
With all of these changes we’ve made the most common task you’re likely to do with pictures easier as well as more powerful. We’re confident that they will help you find new and more creative ways to include pictures in your documents, especially when you combine cropping with the many other improvements you’ll find in Office 2010.
Until next time…
In the meantime, we’d love to hear any questions or comments on how these features are working for you. Please let us know if there are any specific topics you’d like to see us write about.
Tucker Hatfield, Program Manager, Office Graphics