Sunday, 20 September 2009

Windows Photo Gallery

Windows Photo Gallery is built in to all Vista editions and allows the management of photographs and other pictures together with the ability to carry out a number of basic photo editing tasks. Two forensic artefacts of this program are discussed in this post.

Original Images Folder

The program allows users to revert to the original picture with one click should they not like the results of their editing. This feature provides investigators with a very useful artefact. When a picture has been edited the original unmodified version is stored at

%LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows Photo Gallery\Original Images

The file name of this original unmodified version is renamed - the relevant Microsoft Knowledge Base Article details the file name construction

When the original unmodified version of the image is saved, the image file is renamed by using a combination of a unique ID and the original file name. The unique ID is determined by theSystem.Image.ImageID file property. If there is no System.Image.ImageID file property value, a GUID is created. The following is the new file name construction:
'{' + unique ID + '}' + '-' + file name
The following is an example of a renamed original file:

To example this I have edited and renamed the Windows sample picture Toro-toucan.jpg (quite apt considering the forthcoming Arthur's day) using Windows Photo Gallery

The Original Images folder is created the first time a picture is edited with the application and is a hidden folder. From a forensic point of view we might need to identify the edited picture which may have been renamed. We can locate the edited picture by searching for the unique ID referred to above. Essentially take the original file name:
{1F7BA35C-33F2-499E-92A1-0FBE9477C8CA}-Toco Toucan in my example)

and strip it down to


This value is embedded within metadata stored within the edited file known as an XMP Message block and also in one further location. Using FTK Imager we can see this value stored in the two locations within the edited file (click on screenshots to see a larger version)

In the second screenshot part of the XMP message block can be seen. The editing application is also detailed.

Pictures PD4

Windows Photo Gallery stores metadata about the pictures indexed by it in a database file Pictures.PD4 at the location

C:\Users\YourUser\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Photo Gallery.

Tim Coakley's Simple Carver Suite contains a program Windows Photo Gallery Viewer to parse this file. I have found that substituting a test Pictures.PD4 file (in a Vista VM lets say) with your suspects Pictures.PD4 file can produce some meaningful results. I found that the best results can be achieved when the test Windows Photo Gallery is set to display tiles view. Although a blog discussing the transfer of Pictures.PD4 files from machine to machine suggests that the test machines Volume Serial Number needs to match that of the suspects. This can be done with the Windows Sysinternals utility Volume ID v2.0.


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