Updated: January 7, 2015 | Contains affiliate links

3 simple ways to speed up Picasa


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.

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.

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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.

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If you do a lot of image editing like I do, I recommend using Adobe Lightroom Classic CC via the annual Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Lightroom has best photo editing capabilities even though it has a steeper learning curve. Adobe Lightroom is my favorite for image editing.

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