Hands on with Microsoft’s Story Remix, the new tool to make your photos pop

Microsoft’s Story Remix is what happens when someone who suffered through too many dull slideshows of vacation photos thinks about what they could do better.

Arriving with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Story Remix allows you to stitch together photos into “stories” with music, inking, transitions, and even make-believe 3D objects to liven them up—or Story Remix might just do it for you automatically. Custom music supplied by Microsoft’s Groove Music service syncs to the transitions, and you have total control over filters, transitions, and more.

The Story Mix app is actually a function of the Windows 10 Photos app. Supposedly, it’s available in Build 16193 of the Windows 10 Insider program, released just hours after Story Mix was formally announced Thursday at Microsoft’s Build conference. (If you can’t get it, you’re not alone; others, including me, still haven’t received it, so I conducted an intensive hands-on at a demo station.)

Unfortunately, several of the app’s coolest features aren’t actually available yet, even to members of the Insiders program. These include the ability to add 3D objects to a scene, which will arrive in a future update, I’m told.

Starting out

How will you know if you have access to Story Remix? If you’re not part of the Insider Program, you’ll receive the new app when the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update rolls out this autumn, most likely in September. Otherwise, the tipoff is the new tab names at the top of the app: Explore, Create, and Folders, which replace the older “Collections, Albums, Folders” hierarchy.

Microsoft story remix Microsoft

I haven’t seen a search box yet in the Remix 3D app, but the custom slideshows in the very top row are present.

In the current Creators Update, you may already notice Photos sending you notifications that it has “created a story” for you, based on Photos you took on a certain date. That “story” is just a page of photos. Story Remix goes a step further, with a “Created for You” collection at the top left-hand corner of your screen. Inside you’ll find an algorithmically-created slideshow made of photos Story Remix finds interesting, each with a bit of variation: a slight pan across, a bit of motion. This is where Story Remix really kicks off.

For now, all I’ve seen of Story Remix involves creating slideshows. Story Remix collects relevant photos and puts them into a short slideshow which you can play, edit, and share. Open the slideshow, and you’ll see an editing screen: the collection of photos on the upper left, the slideshow-in-progress to the upper right, and the timeline of photos underneath. Naturally, you’ll have the option of adding and subtracting photos, and you may reorganize the timeline as you wish.

Microsoft Story Remix Mark Hachman / IDG

The main slideshow editing page of Story Remix.

Tweak at will

Slightly above the timeline, you’ll see even more options: you can lengthen the time a photo appears onscreen, affect how it moves, add an image filter, or even add text. You can also add ink, of course, with the Surface Pen or another stylus.