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Keep your media collection safe from prying eyes!

Copyright © Tropical Software , 2000 - 2007.
All Rights Reserved.





Contents:

Introduction

Private Pix™ is an exciting new privacy/security technology that allows the user to view popular media files in decrypted and encrypted formats without the need for decrypting the file.  Private Pix™ provides support for some of the most common media formats in use today, including JPEG, BMP, GIF, AVI, MPG, PCX, PGM, PPM, PNG, TIF, PCT, WAV, MP3, WMV, ASF, WM,  and WMA.  Use Private Pix™ to organize and keep your private media collection safe from prying eyes!

Privacy is essential in today’s world and you, as the user, should take special care as to who has access to your data.  Private Pix™ is a powerful yet user friendly answer to keep all your downloaded files private and secure. 

You can try Private Pix™ with no fear, as it doesn't alter your system configuration.  If you ever decide to discontinue using Private Pix™, it has an uninstall feature that removes it safely and completely from your machine!

Private Pix™ is widely distributed in the form of "Demoware".  The public copy has full encryption functionality for evaluation purposes.  However, you can only use demo mode for a limited period of time.
By "Registering" Private Pix™ for Windows, you can unlock normal operation while maintaining all the current settings.  No reinstallation is required.

When you order Private Pix™, you receive a "Registration Code" that works in combination with your name to activate Private Pix™.

The system requirements for Private Pix™ are pretty minimal:

Computer: IBM or compatible
Processor: 80486 or higher
Monitor: 640 x 480 (16 colors) or higher
Operating System: Windows 95/98 or higher, Windows NT 4.0 or higher with service Pack 4.

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Toolbars

Many functions performed in Private Pix™ can be accomplished through menus or by using the buttons of the toolbar.


This toolbar at the top of the Private Pix™ main window gives the user a quick way to perform common tasks.

  New folder
  Copy the selected files to a different folder   *Note: The destination folder can be specified in the Settings Screen.  (Ctrl+C)
  Copy and decrypt the selected files to a different physical device, such as a disk drive, memory card, external hard drive, or MP3 player   *Note: This is a good way to back up your media collection or store it in a portable media player.  (Ctrl+S)
  Move the selected files to a different folder   *Note: The destination folder can be specified in the Settings Screen.  (Ctrl+M)
  Rename the selected file  (Ctrl+R)
  Delete all selected files  (Ctrl+D)
  Encrypt all selected files   *Note: You can change encryption settings using the Encryption Toolbar.  (F8)
  Decrypt any selected files that are encrypted  (F9)
  Switch to the Hidden Folders screen
  Turn Autoplay on/off  (F7)
  Step back one image in the file list  (F3)
  Step forward one image in the file list  (F4)
  Turn the media viewer on/off  (Ctrl+W)
  Switch between full screen view and normal screen view  (Ctrl+F)
  Refresh the list view or thumbnail view  (F5)
  Open all selected files using their default viewer applications  (Ctrl+L)
  Close the currently displayed media file  (Ctrl+X)
  Open the Private Pix™ About Box and display contact information for Tropical Software
  Open your default web browser to Tropical Software’s web site
  Open the Customize Toolbar controls   *Note: These controls can also be reached from the Edit menu.

Customize Toolbar Window:

This window allows you to add, remove, and change the position of buttons on the toolbar. This way you can get rid of buttons that you don't use frequently and easily mold the toolbar to fit your personal needs.


The Customize Toolbar window gives the user an easy way to change the appearance of the toolbar.

The "Current toolbar buttons" list shows the buttons that are currently on the toolbar. Use the Add and Remove buttons to determine what is displayed on the toolbar. Use the Move Up and Move Down buttons to change the order of things on the toolbar. Clicking on the Reset button will restore the toolbar to its original state.

TIP: The order of toolbar buttons can also be changed by holding down the left mouse button and dragging items to a different position in the "Current toolbar buttons" list.


TIP: To add and remove things from the toolbar, you can also drag items between the two lists using the mouse.


Encryption Toolbar:


The Encryption Toolbar gives the user a quick way to change encryption settings.

Using the Encryption Toolbar you can choose between many different encryption types and methods for changing the file name of encrypted files. The "?" buttons provide information about the currently selected options.  Please see the Encryption Tips & Tricks section for more information about encryption types and options.

Note: in demo mode, not all the encryption types are available. You need to register Private Pix™ in order to unlock the strongest encryption types.

By default, the encryption key is the same as your password, but you can also change the key to be whatever you like.  Before you can change the key, you must uncheck the "Same as Password" option.  If you want a suggestion for a good random key, just press the Suggest Key button.

TIP: The default encryption settings are great for the casual user. But as you become used to how Private Pix™ works, you will want to experiment with different settings to find the combination that works best for you. Remember to use the "?" buttons!


TIP: What happens if someone unexpected (perhaps your boss or spouse?) intrudes on you while you are viewing your secret files? Never fear! Simply click on the big Esc button or hit Esc on your keyboard, and Private Pix™ will shutdown right away. It's the emergency exit button! But remember that Tropical Software cannot be held responsible if Private Pix™ does not close fast enough. ;-)

Note: Be careful to remember your encryption key if you change it from the default. We at Tropical Software cannot help decrypt files encrypted by unknown or forgotten keys!


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Keyboard Controls

Navigation within Private Pix™ can be accomplished by using keyboard shortcuts.

Escape Key: Quickly Exit Private Pix™.
Del: Delete picture.

Ctrl+A:  Select All
Ctrl+C:  Copy
Ctrl+D:  Delete
Ctrl+F:  Toggle Fullscreen
Ctrl+L:  Open Files
Ctrl+M: Move
Ctrl+O:  Open
Ctrl+R:  Rename
Ctrl+S:   Send to device
Ctrl+W: Turn Media Viewer on/off
Ctrl+X:  Close file
Ctrl+Z:  Restore default size of application window

"F1":  Switch to Help Screen
"F2":  Rename selected file
"F3":  Move to Previous file
"F4":  Move to Next file
"F5":  Refreshes folder/file tree.
"F7":  Starts and stops Autoplay
"F8":  Encrypts selected files
"F9":  Decrypts selected files
"F10":  Pause for movie or audio files

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Enter Password Window

When Private Pix™ first starts, you must enter your password.  Password protection prevents other people from using Private Pix™ to look at your media collection. 


You must enter your password to start using Private Pix™.

When you run Private Pix™ for the first time, you will be prompted to create a password.  You should choose something that will be easy to remember but difficult for other people to guess.   If you have a hard time remembering things, then please write your password on a piece of paper and keep it in a safe place!

You can change your password at any time by going to the Administration Settings section of the Settings Screen. You can also turn password protection off, so that you won't have to enter your password every time Private Pix™ starts.  Turning off password protection is not recommended because it will make your media collection less secure.

TIP: The best passwords are created from a combination of letters and numbers.  Also, don't use a password that is too short or too long.  A good length is 6 to 10 characters.  Try to avoid using the name of a family pet or loved one for a password, as that makes it too easy to guess.


Note: When you upgrade to a new version of Private Pix™, your password will stay the same. You won't be prompted to make a new one.

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Private Pix™ Main Window

The main application window is divided into 6 panels that can be resized and organized in different ways to suit your personal style.

main window screen shot
Here's Private Pix™ in action!

1. Application controls:  This collection of toolbars plus the main menu gives you control over the many functions that Private Pix™ can perform.  The toolbars are dockable and can be moved around and re-ordered as you desire.  The default arrangement will be suitable for most people.

2. Explorer View:  This panel allows you to navigate through your computer or area network  and select folders with media files to look at. 

3. Ad Bar: These advertisements for various Tropical Software products only appear in demo mode and will go away once you register Private Pix™.

4. Media Viewer:  The selected file will be displayed here.  If the selected file is a movie or music file, then the media viewer will automatically switch to movie or music playing mode.

5. Page View:  This panel will display 1 of 7 selectable pages: you can switch between the Home Page, List View, Thumbnail View, Hidden Folders, Autoplay, Settings, and Help tabs by clicking on the desired tab or using the View menu.  Private Pix™ starts on the Home Page (shown above) by default.  The Home Page makes it easy for you to get familiar with Private Pix™ by giving you a menu of all the major program features.

6. Status Bar:  This area displays useful information such as the total size of the current folder,  whether or not the selected file is encrypted, and whether or not Autoplay is turned on.

TIP: You can resize the Explorer View, Media Viewer, and Page View simply by positioning the mouse over one of the gray bars that separate these 3 panels,  holding down the left mouse button, and dragging the bar to a new location.  You can also change the layout of these panels by going to the Administration Settings section of the Settings Screen.

TIP: If you accidentally make one of the panels disappear by resizing it too much, you can restore the original state of the main application window by using the Restore Default Size command from the View menu (Ctrl+Z)

TIP: Private Pix™ remembers the layout of the main application window next time you run the program, so there's no need to re-size things every time you use Private Pix™.


Explorer View:

This panel is your main view screen that lets you organize your personal files.  Within this view screen, you can browse through your computer and select folders to look at.  When you select a folder with the mouse or arrow keys, the files in that folder will be displayed in the List View and Thumbnail View.

If a directory has a + sign next to it, then that directory has sub-folders inside it.  Click on the + sign to expand and look at the sub-folders.

For your convenience Private Pix™ will remember the last folder that you looked at and go directly to that folder next time you run the program.

Right clicking on a folder will bring up the following menu:

Explorer context menu

This menu allows you to perform several useful operations on the selected folder:

Hidden Folders hide/unhide the selected folder or switch to the Hidden Folders view
New Folder create a new folder inside the selected one
Explore open the selected folder with Microsoft Windows Explorer
Exit quit Private Pix™

TIP: If you make a change to the directory structure, such as renaming a folder or creating a new one, you can refresh the Explorer View, List View, and Thumbnail View by hitting F5 or by using the Refresh command from the View menu.

Folder Status Icons

Hidden folder iconIf a folder is hidden, its icon will be colored red and the words "(hidden)" will be displayed after the name of the folder.  If you are using an older version of Windows, the icon might not appear red but the words "***** (hidden) *****" will appear instead.

Hidden folder icon If a folder is not hidden, its icon will appear as the usual Windows Explorer style image.

Go to the Hidden Folders section for more information about how hidden folders work.

List View and Thumbnail View:

List View
The List View gives you a list of every file, both encrypted and unencrypted, in the current folder.

The List and Thumbnail Views give you two ways to display the list of files in the current directory.  List View is exactly what it sounds like: a list of files, similar to the standard Windows Explorer file list.  Click on any file to have the media file display/play.  You can sort the file list by clicking on any column header.

The Encryption Type  column is the name of the encryption type used to encrypt that file.  For speed purposes, it only tells the user if they click on it.  "Unknown" will appear if the encryption used is not recognized or supported by Private Pix™.

When files are encrypted, the real file name is scrambled to provide better security, according to the options set on the Encryption Toolbar.  The Disguised Name column shows the disguised file name and the Media Files column shows the real file name.

Thumbnail View allows you to do anything you can normally do on the List View but with a graphical means of seeing all the pictures at once.  The Thumbnail View can be activated by clicking on the Thumbnail View tab near the top of the screen, or by using the View menu.  The display settings for the Thumbnail View can be adjusted in the Thumbnail Settings portion of the Settings Screen.  You can change things such as the size of the pictures and the background color.

The Right-Click Pop Up Menu

Right clicking on the List View or Thumbnail View will bring up the following menu:

right click pop up menu

This menu allows you to perform many useful operations on the selected file(s):

Encrypt File encrypt the selected files
Decrypt File decrypt the selected files
Launch Files open all selected files using their default viewer applications
New Folder create a new folder inside the current one
Hidden Folders hide/unhide the current folder or switch to the Hidden Folders view
Autoplay On/Off turn Autoplay on or off
Select All select all files in the current folder
Copy copy the selected files to a different folder
Send to Device copy and decrypt the selected files to a different physical device,
such as a disk drive, memory card, external hard drive, or MP3 player
Move move the selected files to a different folder
Rename rename the selected file
Delete delete all selected files
Exit quit Private Pix™

File Status Icons

The file is a movie.
The file is a picture.
The file is a song.
The file is an external file (a file type not supported by Private Pix™, such as a TXT or DOC file).

The file is an encrypted movie.
The file is an encrypted picture.
The file is an encrypted song.
The file is an encrypted external file.

The file is supported by Private Pix™ but can't be opened because there was an error reading the file.  It might be corrupt or damaged in some way.

TIP: If you double click on an external file, the file will open using its associated application (i.e. a TXT file might open with Notepad or a DOC file with Microsoft Word).  You can open many files at once by selecting them and then using the Open Files command from the View menu (Ctrl+L).  Or you can use the Launch Files command from the right-click pop up menu.

Encrypting and Decrypting

There are many ways to encrypt a file: select some file(s) and press F8 on the keyboard, use the encrypt button on the toolbar, use the Encrypt Files command from the Encryption menu, or use the right-click popup menu.

There are also many ways to decrypt a file: select some file(s) and press F9 on the keyboard, use the decrypt button on the toolbar, use the Decrypt Files command from the Encryption menu, or use the right-click popup menu.

When a file is encrypted, its contents are transformed into unreadable data by performing complicated calculations with the encryption key. The same key must be used when decrypting or viewing the file otherwise it will be unreadable to any media viewer.  This key is user specified and can be changed at any time in the Encryption Key section of the Encryption Toolbar or by using the Change Key command from the Encryption menu. 

TIP: If your encrypted media files won't display properly, then you might be using the wrong encryption key!  Check to make sure you are using the right key.

Note: Take great care in remembering the keys you use to encrypt files.  We at Tropical Software cannot help decrypt files encrypted by unknown or forgotten keys!

Viewing Media Files

Simply click on a file to display it in the media viewer.  If it's a movie or audio file, then it will start playing automatically.  Double click the file to switch to fullscreen mode.

If the file is encrypted it will decrypt first before being displayed (the file itself stays encrypted, only the data inside is decrypted so that you can see the contents of the file).  Note that if the file is a large movie, it might take several seconds or even minutes to decrypt.  The current encryption key must match the key that was used to encrypt the file.  Otherwise, the file will not display and you will get an error message such as "Encrypted Picture".   If this happens, simply change the encryption key to match the one used to encrypt the file!

We recommend that you use the same encryption key to encrypt all the files in a directory.  You can change the key as often as you like, of course, but trying to remembering which key was used for which file can quickly get confusing.

Copying and Moving Files

Files can be copied or moved by using the mouse to drag them onto a folder in the Explorer View.  You can also use the File menu, keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl+C for Copy,  Ctrl+M for Move, and Ctrl+S for Send to Device), the right-click pop up menu, or the toolbar.

You can set a destination folder for Move/Copy operations by using the "Folder for copy/move" option in the Administration Settings section of the Settings Screen and changing the "Always ask folder for copy/move" option to "No".  This is useful if you will be using the same destination folder over and over again, perhaps for backing up important files.

If the "Always ask folder for copy/move" option is set to "Yes", then every time you copy or move files you will be asked to choose a destination folder.

Note:  These settings only apply to Move/Copy operations.  When you use Send to Device, you will always be prompted to choose a destination.

Renaming a File

Private Pix™ can only rename one file at a time.   To rename a file, simply click on the real file name of the currently selected file in the List View or Thumbnail View, and the file name will change to an edit box so you can type the new file name.  Or you can use the Rename command from the File menu, the right-click pop up menu, the toolbar, or press Ctrl+R.

TIP: You can even rename encrypted files!  You can't change the disguised file name directly, but you can edit the real file name the same way as unencrypted files.



Hidden Folders:

Hidden folders are a special new feature that allow you to create "secret" directories that only you can see!  When you hide a folder, that folder becomes invisible to all programs except Private Pix™.  Even other Windows users who use Private Pix™ won't be able to see them!  As far as other programs and users are concerned, your hidden folder does not even exist.   It's the ultimate security method!  Other people can't try to view your secret media if they can't even find the files, right?

Hidden Folders screen
The Hidden Folders screen allows you to see at a glance which folders are hidden and which are not.

In the center of the Hidden Folders screen, you will see the folder list.  Each directory in this list has a status icon on the left side.  If the folder icon is green, then the folder is not hidden.  If the icon is red, then the folder is hidden.  The folder list can be manipulated by using the mouse to select folders in the list and clicking on the buttons below the list:

Hide Current Folder hides the current directory and adds it to the folder list if it is not already there
Add Folder adds a directory to the folder list and hides it
Unhide Selected Folder(s) unhides the selected directories but keeps them in the folder list
Hide Selected Folder(s) hides the selected directories
Remove Selected Folder(s) unhides the selected directories and removes them from the folder list

If you hide many directories in lots of different locations all over your computer, it can be difficult to keep track of them.  That's why the folder list is so useful!  It gives you a convenient way to see a list of every hidden folder on your entire computer, so you can be confident that you know for sure which folders are hidden and which ones are not.

There are several ways to hide a folder.  You can use the controls on the Hidden Folders screen, or the right-click pop up menu, or the Hidden Folders menu. 

Note:  Be very careful about how you use the hidden folders feature!  If you hide important folders that Windows or other programs need in order to run correctly (for example, C:\Windows) your computer might start behaving strangely or stop working altogether.  Tropical Software cannot be held responsible if you misuse hidden folders!



Autoplay Screen:

Autoplay is a slideshow feature that allows you to automate the process of viewing all the files in your media collection.   With Autoplay turned on, you can just sit back, relax, and watch as Private Pix™ automatically flips through your collection.  You can control the display speed and order in which files are shown.  Autoplay is especially useful if you have many movies to watch or music files to listen to, and you don't want to worry about manually selecting the next file in the list after the current one is finished playing.

Autoplay screen
The Autoplay panel gives you 5 different ways to control your slideshow.

1.  Turn Autoplay on or off.
2.  Switch to full screen mode when Autoplay starts.
3.  Display the media files in random order within the current directory.
4.  Repeat the show from the beginning after Autoplay finishes.
5.  Set the amount of time that each file will be displayed before moving to the next file.  The interval can be as fast as half a second or as slow as 3 hours.

There are many ways to turn Autoplay on and off.  You can use the "Autoplay" button as shown above, press F7 on the keyboard, use the toolbar, select On/Off from the Autoplay menu, use the right-click pop up menu, or use the media bar.

The Autoplay interval and on/off status is displayed on the status bar at the bottom right corner of the main Private Pix™ window, for your convenience.

When movies or audio files are played, Private Pix™ will not display the next item until the file has finished playing.

TIP:  If you are using Autoplay with encrypted files, make sure that all the files were encrypted using the same key.  If Autoplay encounters a file encrypted with a different key, it will not decrypt the file and you will not be able to view it.

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Settings Screen

The Settings Screen allows you to customize the way Private Pix™ works to fit your own personal style.  Just move the mouse over a setting and the description column will offer an explanation for that option.  You can adjust the settings by simply clicking anywhere in the option row, which will activate an edit control so changes can be made. 

All changes are saved automatically and will be remembered next time you use Private Pix™.

Viewer Settings:

Enlarge Picture to Fit Pictures are resized to fit inside the media viewer.  Select "Yes" if you want the picture to
be enlarged when the viewer is larger than the picture itself.
Enlarge Movie to Fit Movies are resized to fit inside the media viewer.  Select "Yes" if you want the movie to
be enlarged when the viewer is larger than the movie itself.
Show Media Bar for Pictures Select "Yes" if you want the media bar to show in the media viewer when a still picture is showing.
The media bar hides automatically within 5 seconds and shows again when the mouse is moved.
If you select "No", then the media bar will never be displayed.
Show Media Bar for Movies Select "Yes" if you want the media bar to show in the media viewer when a movie or audio file is playing.
The media bar hides automatically within 5 seconds and shows again when the mouse is moved.
If you select "No", then the media bar will never be displayed.
Auto Repeat Movie When this option is set to "Yes", movies play again and again until you select another file.

This does not apply when Autoplay is turned on.
Auto Repeat Music When this option is set to "Yes", audio files play again and again until you select another file.

This does not apply when Autoplay is turned on.
Auto Next Song When this option is set to "Yes", the media viewer will start playing the next audio file when the current
one is finished playing.

This does not apply when Autoplay or Auto Repeat Music is turned on.
Magnifying Glass Size Select here to change the size of the media viewer's magnifying glass.
Magnifying Glass Zoom Select here to increase or decrease the zoom power for the magnifying glass.
Mouse Wheel Skip Interval This is the interval of time that is skipped back or forth for every mouse wheel movement
when viewing a movie or listening to a music file.
Use Embedded Windows Media Player Select "Yes" to use Windows Media Player technology to play audio and video files.
If Windows Media Player does not work well on your computer, select "No" to use an alternate
method.

We recommend setting this option to "Yes" unless you have a very old computer.

Thumbnail Settings:

Thumbnail Size Select here to change the size of pictures in the Thumbnail View.

Bigger thumbnails look nice, but they also take longer to load and consume more memory.
Unencrypted Back Color Select here to change the background color of thumbnails for files that are not encrypted.

This gives a visual indication of the encryption status when viewing in thumbnail mode.
Encrypted Back Color Select here to change the background color of thumbnails for files that are encrypted.

This gives a visual indication of the encryption status when viewing in thumbnail mode.
Auto Load Thumbnails When this option is set to "Yes", Private Pix™ will load thumbnails whenever the directory
changes or when the program starts.  If this option is set to "No", thumbnails will only load when
the Refresh button is pressed on the toolbar.

We strongly recommend that you keep this option set to "Yes".  Set this option to "No" if your
computer does not have much memory or runs slowly when thumbnails are loading.

Encryption Settings:

Auto Encrypt When this option is set to "Yes", media files are automatically encrypted as soon as you view them.

This is recommended if you want all your files encrypted.   
Filename Encrypt Key This is the encryption key that is used for encrypting filenames when the Secure filename mode
is selected in the encryption toolbar.  By changing this setting other installations of Private Pix
will not be able to tell that your files are encrypted.

A file encrypted with a different Filename Encrypt Key will appear to be an unencrypted
external file (defined as any file type not supported by Private Pix™), and will not display
in the media viewer.   Changing the Filename Encrypt Key also affects files that
were encrypted using the Hide In Picture or Hide In MP3 encryption modes.
Enable Hide in Picture Support When this option is set to "Yes", the Hide In Picture encrypted filename type will be available
on the encryption toolbar.
Enable Hide in MP3 Support When this option is set to "Yes", the Hide In MP3 encrypted filename type will be available
on the encryption toolbar.
Shred when deleting When this option is set to "Yes", Private Pix™ will use a special technique to shred a file
when deleting it, making the file irretrievable even with advanced file recovery tools.

Hide In Picture and Music Settings:

These settings allow you to control the way that files are encrypted when using the special Hide In Picture or Hide In MP3 encryption modes.  Go to the Hide In Picture portion of the Encryption Tips & Tricks section for more information about how these encryption modes work.

Encrypted File Name This option allows you to specify how the encrypted file should be named.

Unlike normal encryption, the file must be renamed in some way so that it
appears to be a picture or MP3 file.  See the Hide In Picture portion of the
Encryption Tips & Tricks section for more information on the different encrypted
file name types.
Auto Choose Picture / MP3 Select "Yes" if you want Private Pix™ to automatically choose what picture or
MP3 becomes the "cloaking" file for the encrypted file.

Select "No" if you want to manually choose a file yourself.
Folder for media files This folder is the source of pictures or MP3s that you want to be "cloaking" files
for your hidden encrypted media files.

If Auto Choose Picture / MP3 is set to "Yes" then Private Pix™ will choose "cloaking" files
from this directory.


Administration Settings:

Window Title Type here the title you want Private Pix™ to display on its window and at the taskbar.

Change it if you think the name Private Pix™ is too conspicuous.
Change Password Click here to change the password for Private Pix™.

Please write the password down on a piece of paper and keep it in a safe location!  You don't
want to forget it!
Ask Password At Start Select "Yes" if you want Private Pix™ to ask for a password when the program starts.
 
It is highly recommended that you keep this option set to "Yes", otherwise your media files
will not be secure.
Always ask folder for copy/move When this option is set to "Yes", Private Pix™ will ask for a destination folder every time
you copy or move a file.

This doesn't apply for drag and drop operations using the mouse.   
Folder for copy/move This is the destination folder for all move and copy operations.

This folder will be used when you set the Always ask folder for copy/move option to "No".
Start on Home Page Select "Yes" to make Private Pix™ always start on the Home Page.
 
When this option is set to "No", Private Pix™ will remember the page you were using and
will start at that page again the next time you run the program.   
Display Style This option allows you to re-arrange the way the media viewer, explorer view, and
page view are displayed within Private Pix™.

The Default Style puts emphasis on the page view.
The other two styles put emphasis on the media viewer or explorer view.
Confirm Deletion When this option is set to "Yes", Private Pix™ will ask permission before it deletes a file.

We recommend that you keep this option set to "Yes" to prevent accidents.
Show Tip of the Day When this option is set to "Yes", Private Pix™ will show helpful tips every time the program starts.

We strongly recommend that you keep this option set to "Yes" for a while until you are
familiar with all the program features.

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Media Viewer

The media viewer is the panel where the current media file will be displayed.   It offers several convenient features to enhance your viewing pleasure.  The way in which files are displayed can be controlled using the various options available in the Viewer Settings part of the Settings Screen.  The default options are fine for most people, but after using Private Pix™ for a while, you may want to experiment with different options and see what works best for you!

Magnifying Glass

If you are viewing a picture, then the mouse cursor will change to a magnifying glass when you move it over the media viewer.  Clicking the left mouse button will activate the magnifying glass and zoom in on that part of the picture.   You can move the mouse around to get a better look at any part of the screen.  Left clicking again will close the magnifying glass.  The size and zoom strength can be controlled from the Viewer Settings part of the Settings Screen

Double clicking will switch between full screen mode and normal viewing mode.

Note:  Using the magnifying glass while Autoplay is on will cause Autoplay to turn off.

The Right-Click Pop Up Menu

Right clicking on the media viewer will bring up the following menu:

right click pop up menu

This menu allows you to perform many useful operations on the selected file(s):

Encrypt File encrypt the selected files
Decrypt File decrypt the selected files
Previous move to the previous file in the current directory
Next move to the next file in the current directory
Close Pic close the currently displayed media file, so it is no longer shown in the media viewer
Toggle Viewer turn the media viewer on/off
Toggle Fullscreen switch between full screen view and normal screen view
Hidden Folders hide/unhide the current folder or switch to the Hidden Folders view
Autoplay On/Off turn Autoplay on or off
Toggle Sound turn sound on/off if a movie or audio file is playing (when sound is turned on, a check
mark will appear beside the menu command, as shown in the picture above)
Pause Media pause/unpause a movie or audio file
Launch Files open all selected files using their default viewer applications
Copy copy the selected files to a different folder
Send to Device copy and decrypt the selected files to a different physical device,
such as a disk drive, memory card, external hard drive, or MP3 player
Move move the selected files to a different folder
Delete delete all selected files
Exit quit Private Pix™

Note:  File operations will affect ALL files selected in the List View and Thumbnail View, not just the one displayed in the media viewer!

Media Bar:

The media bar will appear at the bottom of the media viewer when you move the mouse around inside the media viewer.   If you stop moving the mouse and wait for a few seconds, it will disappear.  These buttons give you an easy way to navigate through your media and control the playback of movies or music.  The media bar is especially useful in full screen mode.  There are two different types: one for viewing pictures, and one for viewing movies and music.

The Picture Media Bar: the media bar for pictures
The Movie/Audio File Media Bar:

media bar for movies or music


  Start playing the current file
  Pause/unpause the current file  (F10)
  Stop playing the current file
  Go back to the beginning of the currently playing file
  Rewind the current file at high speed
  Fast forward the current file at high speed
  Move to the previous file in the current directory  (F3)
  Turn Autoplay on/off  (F7)
  Move to the next file in the current directory  (F4)
  Navigate through the current file by dragging the position indicator back and forth with the mouse, or by clicking on the desired position on the bar
  Turn sound on/off
  Turn the media viewer on/off  (Ctrl+W)
  Switch between full screen view and normal screen view  (Ctrl+F)

TIP:  If you are NOT in full screen mode, you can move forward and backward through a movie/audio file by using the mouse scroll wheel too!


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Encryption Tips & Tricks

Private Pix™ uses a suite of powerful world-class encryption algorithms, some of which are so strong that even the US government relies on them to protect sensitive data!  An encryption algorithm is a method by which the data in a file is scrambled until it looks like meaningless garbage.   The same algorithm can be used to unscramble the data and restore the file to its original state.   Each encryption algorithm relies upon a special codeword, called a key, to tell it how to scramble the data.  As long as you have the right key, you can decrypt and view your data.  But if you don't know the key, it is almost impossible to decode the encrypted information. 

This section provides detailed information about the types of encryption operations you can perform with Private Pix™ and some tips for using encryption effectively.  If you are just a casual user and don't really care about how encryption works, you probably don't need to read this section.  Simply press the "Encrypt" button (F8 on the keyboard) and it's that easy!  If, however, you are an advanced user interested in making the most of the powerful technology Private Pix™ employs, then read on.

Encryption Algorithms

The demo version of Private Pix™ allows you to use 3 encryption algorithms:

DES Encryption Originally developed by IBM, now one of the most well known and widely used
encryption algorithms in the world.

DES is an older algorithm that is weaker than more modern ones.
Fast Encryption As its name suggests, Fast Encryption is fast!  However, it is the weakest encryption
type that Private Pix™ has.

This algorithm is a good compromise between speed and security.
Media Stealth A quick algorithm specially designed for encrypting image and multimedia files with lightning speed.

After you register Private Pix™, 7 additional encryption types will be available:

Blowfish Encryption Blowfish was designed in 1993 by Bruce Schneier as a fast, free alternative to
existing encryption algorithms.  Since then it has been slowly gaining acceptance
as a strong encryption algorithm.
MARS Encryption MARS was designed by IBM as a candidate for the US government's new Advanced
Encryption Standard (AES).  It was selected as one of 5 finalists in the AES competition.
MARS is faster than DES and offers better security than Triple DES.  The combination of
high security, high speed, and flexibility makes MARS an excellent choice for the
encryption needs of the 21st century.
Rijndael Encryption (AES) Rijndael was designed by Joan Daemen and Vincent Rijmen and eventually was selected
to become the US government's new Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), replacing DES
as the government's encryption algorithm of choice.  No weaknesses have been found in
Rijndael.
Serpent Encryption Serpent was designed by Ross Anderson, Eli Biham and Lars Knudsen as a candidate
for the US government's new Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).  It was selected
as one of 5 finalists in the AES competition.  Serpent is faster than DES and uses a
simpler, more secure algorithm.
Skipjack Encryption Skipjack is a formerly secret NSA encryption algorithm that was declassified in 1998.
It was used to encrypt sensitive, but not classified, government data.  Skipjack uses a
small key size that makes it inferior to the newer candidate algorithms for the Advanced
Encryption Standard (AES).  Despite this shortcoming, Skipjack offers a safe alternative
to DES without having to rely on the AES.
Triple DES Encryption Triple DES is a variation of DES that works by taking a large key and breaking it into 3
smaller keys.  First, DES is used to encrypt a file using the first key.  Then the file is
decrypted using the second key.  Finally, the file is encrypted again using the third key.
Hence the name Triple DES.  This algorithm is very slow, but more secure than regular
DES.
Twofish Encryption Twofish is Counterpane Labs' candidate for the US government's new Advanced
Encryption Standard (AES).  It was selected as one of 5 finalists in the AES competition.
Like all AES finalists, Twofish is a very strong and flexible algorithm.

The above encryption algorithms are all very powerful and will protect your media files from even the most determined snooper!  To even think about mounting a brute force attack against even the weakest of these algorithms would require millions of dollars, powerful supercomputers, and years and years of dedicated computer time.

Click here to go to a government web site with more information on the Advanced Encryption Standard.

You can change the current encryption type using the Encryption Toolbar.

Encryption Modes

When files are encrypted, the real file name is scrambled to provide better security, according to the Encrypted File Name option set on the Encryption Toolbar.  The Disguised Name column in the List View shows the disguised file name and the Media Files column shows the real file name.

There are 4 encrypted file name modes.

Fast:

This option simply scrambles the file name but other copies of Private Pix™ will be able to read the original file name.  A file name disguised with this option will look like a mess of random characters.  For example:  myfile.jpg becomes 7JJJ$,#.18

Note:  Fast mode uses special processing to speed up thumbnail load times.  As a result, files encrypted using the Hide In Picture or Hide In MP3 modes (see below) will NOT appear to be encrypted!  They will seem to be ordinary unencrypted media files.  You must switch to another encrypted file name mode in order to properly view these files.

Secure:

With this option, the file name is encrypted securely, even from other copies of Private Pix™.  File names are disguised as a semi-random sequence of numbers determined by the Filename Encrypt Key.  You can change the Filename Encrypt Key in the Encryption Settings portion of the Settings Screen.  This option is more secure than the Fast mode.

For example: myfile.jpg becomes 17653601.069

Note:  If you change the default Filename Encrypt Key then other installations of Private Pix™ will not be able to tell that your files are encrypted!  A file encrypted with a different Filename Encrypt Key will appear to be an unencrypted external file (defined as any file type not supported by Private Pix™), and will not display in the media viewer.   Changing the Filename Encrypt Key also affects files that were encrypted using the Hide In Picture or Hide In MP3 modes (see below).
 

Hide In Picture:

This option uses a "cloaking" graphic to hide the true media file.  When someone tries to view the encrypted media with a normal image viewer, they will see the "cloaking" graphic instead.  Only you can see the hidden file using Private Pix™!  To use this setting, you will be asked to set up a folder with images to be used as "cloaking" graphics.

When you use Hide In Picture mode there are several ways that the encrypted file can be named.  Unlike normal encryption, the file must be renamed so that it appears to be an image file.  You can choose from among the following options:

Maintain Org Filename Keep the original filename of the file you are encrypting and add
the extension of the picture file.

For example: if you are encrypting secret.txt and hiding it within
mypic.gif, then the encrypted file will be named secret.txt.gif
Random Filename Change the filename to eight random numbers and add the
extension of the picture file.

For example: if you are encrypting secret.txt and hiding it within
mypic.gif, then the encrypted file might be named 19470384.gif
Use Org Picture Filename Keep the name of the picture file.  If a file with that name already
exists, a number will be appended to the new name to make it unique
and prevent the other file from being overwritten.

For example, if you are encrypting secret.txt and hiding it within
mypic.gif, then the encrypted file will be named mypic.gif

Hide In Picture settings can be controlled from the Hide In Picture and Music Settings portion of the Settings Screen.  If you encrypt files using Hide In Picture or Hide In MP3 mode (see below) then be very careful about using other encrypted file name modes.  If you switch to Fast mode, you will be unable to view your Hide In Picture / MP3 mode files!  For this reason, we recommend using the same encrypted file name mode for every file in the same directory.  If you wish to use a different encrypted file name mode, then set up another folder first.  This is a good way to keep from becoming confused.

TIP:  Use a large graphic to hide your encrypted file because of the increase in the file size when encrypting.  A large file size with a small graphic could make someone suspicious.


TIP:  Hide In Picture mode is perfect for encrypting small text files!  For example, you might use Microsoft Notepad to write down important passwords or your bank PIN, then use Hide In Picture mode to encrypt the text file into a digital photo so it appears to be just another part of your picture collection.  That will keep your important data safe from hackers or your kids!

Advanced TIP:   Hide in Picture mode can be used to encrypt a file twice, adding an extra measure of protection, by effectively tricking Private Pix™ into thinking the encrypted file is really unencrypted!  The process is a bit complicated: first, encrypt a file using Hide In Picture mode.  Then, change the Filename Encrypt Key in the Encryption Settings portion of the Settings Screen.  Now the file will appear to be unencrypted since the Filename Encrypt Key is different (remember that the filename will also be different depending on which of the above filename settings you are using).  Next, switch to a different encryption mode, such as Fast or Secure mode.  Finally, encrypt the file again!  And there you have it: double encryption!  To decrypt, simply reverse the process: first, decrypt the file.   Then change the Filename Encrypt Key back to what it was originally.  Finally, decrypt again.  There are many variations possible on this basic idea.  You could actually perform infinite layers of encryption by repeatedly using Hide In Picture mode and changing the Filename Encrypt Key between each encryption.  You could vary the encryption type and encryption key as well to make the file ultra secure!  Just remember to keep track of everything that you do or you might have trouble remembering how to decrypt the file!

Hide In MP3:

This encrypted file name mode is identical to Hide In Picture mode, except that MP3s are used to hide your secret data instead of image files.

TIP:  Hide in MP3 mode is useful if you want to transport encrypted files in a portable music player!  Simply encrypt all your files, and copy the resulting music files to your MP3 player.  When you listen to music on your way to work, you can rest easy knowing that you've also got your secret data with you!  Note that this trick doesn't work with all devices.  Some music players will only save the music data and will discard the encrypted data that is hidden within the file.  You should test this process for yourself before relying on it.  In particular, this trick has NOT been tested with Apple's iPod!  Tropical Software makes no gaurantees that this trick will work with Apple's iPod or any other portable music player.

Encrypting and Decrypting

There are many ways to encrypt a file: select some file(s) and press F8 on the keyboard, use the encrypt button on the toolbar, use the Encrypt Files command from the Encryption menu, or use the right-click popup menu.

There are also many ways to decrypt a file: select some file(s) and press F9 on the keyboard, use the decrypt button on the toolbar, use the Decrypt Files command from the Encryption menu, or use the right-click popup menu.

When a file is encrypted, its contents are transformed into unreadable data by performing complicated calculations with the encryption key. The same key must be used when decrypting or viewing the file otherwise it will be unreadable to any media viewer.  This key is user specified and can be changed at any time in the Encryption Key section of the Encryption Toolbar or by using the Change Key command from the Encryption menu. 

TIP: If your encrypted media files won't display properly, then you might be using the wrong encryption key!  Check to make sure you are using the right key.

Note: Take great care in remembering the keys you use to encrypt files.  We at Tropical Software cannot help decrypt files encrypted by unknown or forgotten keys!

Viewing Media Files

Simply click on a file to display it in the media viewer.  If it's a movie or audio file, then it will start playing automatically.  Double click the file to switch to fullscreen mode.

If the file is encrypted it will decrypt first before being displayed (the file itself stays encrypted, only the data inside is decrypted so that you can see the contents of the file).  Note that if the file is a large movie, it might take several seconds or even minutes to decrypt.  The current encryption key must match the key that was used to encrypt the file.  Otherwise, the file will not display and you will get an error message such as "Encrypted Picture".   If this happens, simply change the encryption key to match the one used to encrypt the file!

We recommend that you use the same encryption key to encrypt all the files in a directory.  You can change the key as often as you like, of course, but trying to remembering which key was used for which file can quickly get confusing.

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Registration Screen

To order Private Pix™, go on-line.  Use the Order Information command from the Help menu.  You will be connected to our web page where you can provide your credit card information.

Your credit card information is FULLY PROTECTED.
After you register with us, you will be given a registration key.  This will make your demo version of Private Pix™ fully operational.

Click here to open Tropical Software’s Secure Online Order Form

Register Controls:

The Registration Screen will continue to pop up when the program starts until you've registered your copy of Private Pix™.  This screen offers the choice to continue running the demo version of Private Pix™, visit the Tropical Software website, order via the internet, uninstall Private Pix™, or register Private Pix™. 

Start an Internet connection and then click on the "Buy a Registration Key Now!" link to go right to our secure order form for easy credit card ordering.

Note:  The demo will eventually expire and you will be forced to register if you want to continue using Private Pix™!  The expiration date is displayed for your information.


If you wish to register your copy of Private Pix™, click on the Register button.   The Enter Registration Key box will pop up.  After you purchase a copy of Private Pix™, enter the customer name  exactly like it is shown on the receipt (the name and the key are interdependent).  Then enter the registration key and click on the OK button.  If you entered a valid name and registration key, Private Pix™ will inform you that the program has been registered successfully, and ask you to restart the program for all changes to take effect.

If you prefer, you can also register Private Pix™ at any time by selecting the Register command from the Help menu.

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Uninstall Private Pix™

To prevent defeating Private Pix™ by uninstalling without knowing the password, the following procedure must be followed to uninstall Private Pix™ and restore your encrypted media files:

  • Decrypt every encrypted file in your collection (otherwise the file will remain encrypted and you won't be able to view it).
  • Select the Uninstall command from the Help menu.
  • Private Pix™ can also be uninstalled by clicking the uninstall button on the Registration Screen.

If you find encrypted files after uninstalling, simply reinstall Private Pix™ and enter the correct key for the encrypted file.  Decrypt the rest of your files then uninstall Private Pix™ once again.

Note:  If Private Pix™ is unregistered it offers to go to a web site for the user to fill out a reason for uninstalling.  This is optional and helps Tropical Software increase the quality of its products.

For security reasons, Private Pix™ will not uninstall until a password has been given and an uninstall menu option or button is pressed. 

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How to Contact Tropical Software

Tropical Software logo

If you are having problems with Private Pix™, hopefully this help file will be useful to you.  But if not, you can directly contact Tropical Software for technical support or any questions you may have.  We are always happy to be of assistance in any way we can!

Internet www.tropsoft.com
E-Mail tropsoft@tropsoft.com

The easiest and quickest way to reach us is by e-mail.   We will do our best to answer your e-mails promptly and thoroughly.  Technical support for Private Pix™ and other Tropical Software products is provided free of charge.

You can also report problems with Private Pix™ by using our Question/Problem Form.

Other great Tropical Software products

PC Security Password protect everything!  Lock any file, folder, or program
with this effective security device.
Winvestigator Secretly monitor and record user activities with this easy-to-use
investigative software.
Private Encryptor Encrypt anything!  Encrypt and decrypt right from the Windows
Explorer and desktop.
Private Desktop Quick!  The boss is coming!  Hide by switching to a blank desktop
in a click!
Ergotimer Need a stress relieving break?  Try Ergotimer and watch all that
tension melt away!
Secure Browser Restricted Internet surfing!  This powerful browser allows you to
control exactly where your kids go.
Strong Encryption Package Enhance the encryption power of Private Encryptor with this ultimate
add-on.

Note: Private Pix™ now comes with every encryption type featured
in the Strong Encryption Package!

Tropical Software has a wide array of security applications suited for many different purposes.  Please visit our web site to learn more about all our other products.

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Disclaimer

Private Pix™ is supplied as is without warranty of any kind.
Tropical Software hereby disclaims all warranties and guarantees regarding the use, or the results of use, of Private Pix™ in terms of correctness, accuracy, reliability or otherwise.
Tropical Software will not be responsible for any incidental, consequential, direct or indirect damages, including but not limited to damages for loss of profits, business interruption and loss of information resulting from the correct or otherwise use of Private Pix™ even if Tropical Software has been advised of the possibility of such damages.

By installing Private Pix™, you acknowledge that you have read this limited warranty, understand it, and agree to be bound by its terms and conditions.
You also agree that the Limited warranty is the complete and exclusive statement of agreement between the parties and supersedes all proposals or prior agreements, oral or written, and any other communications between the parties relating to the subject matter of the Limited warranty.

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