I have had a love-hate relationship with Picasa over the years ever since Google bought the company behind Picasa. I have installed it and uninstalled it many times over the years. Every time a major version would come out I would install it again and play with it but every time I ended up uninstalling it. Recently, however I have installed it again and it might just stay longer on my computer this time. Read on to find out why.
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Why Picasa was not that great
Until recently, Picasa was only looking great rather than delivering great value for a photographer. Granted, the interface was and is great and easy to use and the effects and editing capabilities, while not professional grade, are very easy to use and produce great results quickly. However, this was not enough when Picasa was not providing direct image folder capabilities and was providing only automatic organization of pictures based on dates. The user used to have very little control over the organization structure. Until recently…
Now Picasa is actually almost great
Picasa has come a long way since it was bought by Google. Slowly but surely Google developers have been adding features that are very useful. Because of these changes I have started using Picasa again even though its support for image metadata is only at the beginning phases. I’m hoping that they keep developing it with the organized photographer in mind and not only adding pretty buttons. Below, I’m listing my favorite new Picasa features.
Picasa supports direct image folder view
You can now see your folders directly (Read Organize your pictures in 5 steps) instead of just an arbitrary categorization of images by
date picture taken value from the EXIF portion of image metadata (Read Understand and Manage your image metadata). Now, I can select to see my folders the way they appear on my computer.
One cool feature that I have not seen anywhere else is the ability to organize the folders in such a way that I can see my folders organized by
date last updated. This way I see my most recent picture folders at the top of my folders hierarchy. There are also some other ways to organize the way my image folders appear in Picasa. This is indeed very cool !
Picasa supports IPTC image keywords
What piqued my interest in Picasa again is the fact that it supports image tags and above all it supports IPTC keywords. Since, Picasa is not made by Adobe, Picasa supports IPTC keywords directly without having to do anything transformation from XMP to IPTC or anything weird, just plain old IPTC image keywords added to your pictures.
While Picasa doesn’t provide any organization capabilities for image tags, it provides a very easy to use interface to image keywords. You simply type
CTRL+T and you get a nice little window in the bottom left of the screen where you can add keywords to your images. These are saved in the right format (IPTC) and in the right place (the keywords section of IPTC). I’m hoping that pretty soon Picasa will allow me to create categories of keywords so I can keep my keywords straight (Read How to create precise image keywords).
One extra feature is bulk tagging of images. This is indeed great ! You can select multiple pictures and then hit CTRL+T and the tags you enter will be applied to all the images selected. I say that’s cool.
Picasa supports image geotags
Image geotag support (Read Simple methods for geotagging your pictures) for Picasa is just icing on the cake. Actually, image geotags support is old news with Picasa. Knowing that Google is the creator of Google Earth (duh!) it’s no wonder that Picasa would support image geotags. The integration between Picasa and Google Earth is pretty slick and it does work well indeed (provided you have a powerful enough computer to run both Picasa and Google Earth).
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Excellent Lightroom and Picasa alternative. If you need a cheaper and simpler photo manager then ACDSee Photo Studio for Mac (save 30% until May 24th) or ACDSee Pro for Windows (save $30 until May 24th) is my preferred solution for organizing all my media. It has a very fast browser, great image editing and it's simple to use.
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Reference book Basics book Picasa book