YOURS FREE: 10 crucial steps people miss when organizing digital photos
Most people want to just shoot pictures and ignore these crucial steps for organizing their collection of digital photos on their computers. Then they wonder why they are frustrated when looking for photos and trying to do fun projects with them!
Get 10 Crucial steps NOT to miss, along with videos and media organization tips & tricks delivered directly to your inbox. Just enter your name and email below. It's all free!

3 simple ways to speed up Picasa

Categories: Most Popular, Software Review    Tags:   11 Comments

Picasa is a great digital asset management software. If you have been reading my blog, you know that I have struggled with Picasa over the years. I have installed it many times only to uninstall it days later. This has all changed recently when they have released version 3.8, when Picasa started supporting the XMP standard regarding image metadata. XMP coupled with the correct integration of IPTC image tags in addition to beautiful support for EXIF geotagging, determined me to start using Picasa again. And this time I have not uninstalled it. Now that I am a dedicated Picasa user, I will start sharing a few tips for making Picasa do what you want. In this article I will be sharing a few simple tips for making Picasa run faster.

How to use face detection efficiently in Picasa
The best way to configure Picasa options and make Picasa work fast and smooth
Image metadata in Ligthtroom and Picasa is compatible.

Make Picasa run faster

I run Picasa on my desktop computer which has no problem with memory and speed. But I also run Picasa on my little Asus netbook which runs an Intel Atom processor on just 1 Gb of memory. Normally, I would expect that Picasa will run very slow on my netbook. However, after applying the few tweaks I describe below, Picasa is running very quickly on my netbook as well. So read on and see if you can make your Picasa run faster as well.

Choose what folders to import in Picasa

This is where I always start setting up Picasa. By default, Picasa will be searching your entire computer and will scan your entire computer continuously for pictures. However, the great thing about Picasa is that you can customize just about everything, including how you want Picasa to scan for new pictures.

When Picasa scans your computer for pictures, something happens in the background. There are a few Picasa software processes that crawl your computer and identify all image types and take all the information from those pictures and import them into the Picasa database. These background processes, while very efficient, they do slow down your computer. So, you have to take some time to determine which folders you want in Picasa.

For example: I chose to only import My Pictures into Picasa. And even within the My Pictures folder I chose not to import a few folders. In other words, I want to import only the folders I use very often.

Choose carefully which folders to import into Picasa.
Choose carefully which folders to import into Picasa.

The basic rule is that the fewer folders you Scan Always with Picasa, the faster your computer will be.

Use Face Detection sparingly

First off I turn off Face Detection. While this seems like a great feature that actually recognizes faces in pictures, I did not find any great use for it. True, Face Detection can be trained and once you indicate which face is your son or daughter, Picasa will find all the shots where they appear and correctly label them as such. This is amazing! However, it does slow down my computer quite a bit especially when importing a lot of pictures from your camera.

So, I turn off the Face Detection. Now, there maybe reasons why Face Detection is a great feature for you even though I didn’t find use for it. So, if you want to use Face Detection make sure you only enable it only for the folders you really need it for.

To selectively turn off Face Detection you have to go to File --> Add Folder to Picasa, then turn off Face Detection on any unnecessary folder you chose to import into Picasa. You see how all the folders I chose to import in Picasa (set as Scan Always) I have also turned off Face Detection.

Turning off Face Recognition in Picasa will greatly improve performance.
How to turn off Face Recognition in Picasa.

The basic rule for making Picasa faster is that the fewer folders you have Face Detection turned on, the faster your Picasa will be.

Turn off the user interface special effects

According to the Picasa user’s manual, user interface special effects allows Picasa to perform smooth transitions while rotating, applying edits, or previewing a photo. While these effects are cool, they do require more power from my computer and I prefer them to be off. You probably won’t even notice that they’re not there once you turn them off, but you will see the software performing faster.

In order to turn off user interface special effects, click on Tools --> Options and check off the Special Effects check mark. It’s the first one in the list.

Turning off user interface special effects will improve Picasa performance.
Turn off user interface special effects.

Can you make Picasa faster?

Of course you can! The first thing that is important when it comes to manging your pictures is to have a fast software program. Picasa is pretty fast to start with, but I have found a few things that will make it run even faster without affecting the great features it has.

Do you have other tricks to make Picasa faster? I would love to hear about them. Please add a comment and share your favorite Picasa setting.

Personal coaching  Independent course  My books

Updated: January 7, 2015  Categories: Most Popular, Software Review
Tags:    Comments: 11 Comments
Read related articles:
How to use face detection efficiently in Picasa
The best way to configure Picasa options and make Picasa work fast and smooth
Image metadata in Ligthtroom and Picasa is compatible.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Coupe December 1, 2010 at 9:38 am

Yes, version 3.8 of Picasa is starting to look interesting. Be aware, though, that at the moment, it still has a bug in that it can’t deal with certain types of GPS formats.



vlad December 1, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Thank you much Geoff for your comment. I didn’t experiment enough with Geotags in Picasa other than doing it a few times. It is also true that I didn’t try the pictures with geotags added in Geosetter…maybe I’ll do it one of these days. Based on your article…it might not work properly.

In addition, Picasa has another limitation…at least the current version. It only deals properly with image metadata applied to JPG images…nothing else…so it doesn’t work with RAW files well at all. However, for JPG images Picasa does handle tags and captions correctly and geotags are definitely usable (at least those created with Picasa).

We’ll wait and see how Picasa improves with time. So far, it has definitely improved a lot over the years.


tim September 12, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Geoff, thanks so much for the tips to speed up Picasa. i am working through them.
Another problem i have with Picasa 3 is that it will not inport Video clips from my Canon Ixus 130 or my Canon G10.
They sometimes go to “My pictures” but never to Picasa though they did in the previous version.
Any ideas?
Yours Tim


vlad September 13, 2011 at 9:56 am

Tim…The Canon Ixus 130 is saving the files in .mov file (which is Apple Quicktime format). Picasa should be able to handle those.

I use my Canon T2i which outputs in the same format and Picasa sees the videos fine. Try copying the video file directly from your card to your computer…just a file transfer. Place it in one of the files where you have Picasa look always…it should pick it up and show it to you and allow you to play it.

I’ll try to check to see if there is a Picasa setting that you need to enable to show videos.

Let me know how it works.


Topher July 24, 2014 at 1:21 am

Haha, shouldn’t you be charging for that kind of knowledge?!


Vlad July 25, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Well…I am not charging any money for this article. I do charge money for my books and course.

Whitman Lockhart March 29, 2012 at 2:31 am

A couple comments:
I’m contemplating buying a net book and I’m concerned about Picasa’s displaying a full image on the small screen. This is critical for me since I make good use of Picasa’s cropping feature on my 15″ notebook.. Since I have read of no complications re viewing an image on your net book, I presume it will work.
By way of a tip, I have discovered that for some reason, pictures uploaded to my PC from the camera roll on my iPod Touch are not always “recognized” by Picasa. Such pictures show up in the Windows directory when searched for using the search box at the lower left corner of the Windows display, but they are not “taken in” by Picasa.
Fortunately, I discovered that for some reason all photos sent from the PHOTO LIBRARY seem to be recognized by Picasa. And I discovered that Photo Trans is a great app for moving photos back and forth from the iPod to Picasa. If you have pictures on your camera roll, and you want to make sure they end up in a folder in Picasa’s directory, copy them to a temporary file on your PC, then copy them from that folder on the PC to photo library. Create a new destination folder for them on the PC using Photo Trans and copy them BACK from the PHOTO LIBRARY to that folder. Go to Pictures and drag the folder into “My Pictures,” and that new folder, with ALL its pictures, will be in Picasa’s directory when you open it.:-)
Finally, Photo Trans makes it easy to DELETE photos from iPod folders which do not contain trash cans. Just select the folder, right-click, and hit delete. No need to hassle with iTunes!



vlad March 29, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Whitman…I have Picasa running on my old netbook…10″ screen.
Whenever you do any image processing on a netbook (assuming an Intel Atom processor), things will be very slow. As far as cropping and and other image processing functions…they will be slow and the screen is too small to do any type of image processing…in my opinion.

I have used my netbook for traveling and storing pictures from my camera. I have also used Picasa to transform pictures and make them suitable for the web…but other than that I refrained from using my netbook for image processing. Netbooks are not designed for that even though they will work…to some degree.


Kevin July 27, 2013 at 10:53 am

Turning off Face Detection got rid of the “Refining” issue. Thanks heaps!!


Steven Plyler July 3, 2015 at 5:47 pm

Many thanks, I am a challenged user but do find it a terrific tool, however of late I uninstalled as I was under control of Picasa as it opens randomly on its own command.


Vlad July 4, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Steven…Picasa does not open unless you open it yourself. It is generally a well behaved application. However, if you have configured Picasa to be associated with all image types when you installed it…then Picasa will open whenever you double click any image. You can change this setting under Tools/Options.


Leave a Comment

Real Time Analytics