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Picasa is making small but steady steps to becoming an excellent photo management software system

Categories: Software Review    Tags:   No Comments

Picasa logoMy experience with Picasa has been very inconsistent over the years. I believe I have installed and uninstalled Picasa at least five or six times that I remember. Most of the times, I have uninstalled Picasa because I hated how it handled my physical file folder…it was just frustrating to not be able to directly see my file folders the way they were laid out on my hard drive. Recently however, Picasa has made several steps the pretty much removed all my frustrations with the product. Lately I have installed Picasa again and this time it seem like it will stay…at least for a while. Read on to find out what I like about the new version of Picasa.

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Much improved support for image metadata standards

My new favorite button in Picasa is the information button next to the tags and people buttons on the bottom right. It looks like this: The information button in Picasa displays image metadata and it’s very cool!

When you click it, it displays all the metadata available for the image selected (EXIF, IPTC caption and tags and starting with version 3.8, XMP metadata). This means that you get to see all your camera settings (ISO, F stop, exposure time and such), plus tags and caption information in addition to geotags. All in one convenient place. Really cool and very easy to use. I love it!

Image metadata is conveniently displayed in Picasa by clicking the information button.
Image metadata being displayed in Picasa

I have performed a few tests just to ensure that Picasa lives up to its claims regarding image metadata standards compliance. It is true that I only tested the things I cared about, namely GPS positioning information, tags and captions. Here is what I have found:

  • Picasa inserts tags correctly in the IPTC tags section.
  • Picasa inserts image captions correctly in the IPTC caption section.
  • Picasa inserts GPS positioning information correctly in the EXIF GPS section.

Therefore, I can rest easy that anytime I spend adding tags and geotags to my images, they are being saved correctly according to known standards. This is crucial if I want my metadata to be portable and available in any other program I might be using for reading image metadata.

Great support for accessing file folders directly

For the longest time, Picasa was only organizing folders automatically, by the date when the pictures were taken. This was the most frustrating part about Picasa for years. Sometime last year, Picasa has introduced support for direct folder view. Now I get to choose how to look at my folders, sorted by date automatically or shown exactly how my hard drive shows them. I only look at my picture folders directly because I really want to keep my physical folder structure correct.

Amazingly fast search capability

This is where Picasa truly shines. Because it’s made by Google, Picasa can search your picture collection very fast. When you enter a keyword in the search box, Picasa will immediately return results including: image tags and folder names that contain the keywords specified. This is very fast!

What is your favorite feature of Picasa?

There are many other things I like in Picasa, but the things I mentioned above are just foundational to any photo management software performance. Picasa is a complex software system and it has many other features.

If you use Picasa and have a favorite feature, please add a comment below and share your favorite Picasa feature.

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Updated: October 3, 2010  Categories: Software Review
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