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Expression Media 2 Essentials, Part 3: Online Versus Offline Media, Managing Windows, and Setting Preferences

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In the third part of his introductory series on Microsoft Expression Media 2 basics, Steve Schwartz discusses the differences between working with online and offline media, how to manage multiple open catalogs, and the importance of setting preferences.
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In this article, we'll cover the last few things you absolutely should know about Expression Media 2 before doing any serious work with the program.

Online and Offline Media

One of the great strengths of Expression Media 2 is that it doesn't restrict you to cataloging files on your computer's hard disks; you can also catalog files in shared network folders, as well as files stored on removable media such as CDs, DVDs, optical disks, zip disks, floppy disks, flash drives, and memory cards. However, it's important for you to understand the differences between how Expression Media handles online and offline files:

  • Online media. You can perform any action on media that's stored on an internal or connected drive, device, or shared network folder. When working with online media in Expression Media 2, you're viewing and modifying the original files.
  • Offline media. If you don't insert the disk, connect the drive, insert the memory card, plug in the flash drive, or connect the network computer on which the currently selected media is stored, its files are offline and only the information stored in Expression Media will be available to you. For instance, you can't edit offline files, and their representation in Expression Media is limited to thumbnails and previews. However, you can freely add or modify such a file's annotations.

If you haven't generated a preview (see the later section "Catalog-Specific Preferences") for an offline image, here's what will happen when you access the file in Expression Media:

  • If you switch to Media view, an error message states that the file is unavailable (see Figure 1).
    Figure 1

    Figure 1 If a file is currently unavailable, either because it's offline or has been deleted, this message appears.

  • If you open the image in the Light Table, the image's thumbnail and an "Original media file not available" message are displayed.
  • If you click the Image Editor toolbar icon or choose Window > Show Image Editor, the Image Editor appears—but not the file.
  • If you open the item for editing in another application, the other program launches, but without displaying the file.
  • A slide show of offline images displays only thumbnails (although you can resize them).

The path to a selected offline file is shown at the top of the catalog window (see Figure 2). To restore normal viewing and editing privileges for the file temporarily, insert or connect the drive, disk, or device on which the file is stored.

Figure 2

Figure 2 In Thumbnail and Media views, the selected file's location is shown above the catalog. Use this path information to locate offline files, such as this image from a CD named Graphics 2.

If the thumbnail of an offline file is selected in Thumbnail view or you attempt to view the file in Media view, the message "Original media file not available" appears to the left of the Zoom icons.

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