Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production

Hey there! This article was written in 2005.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

Picasa

Posted 5 July 2005

I've been playing with Picasa, which is photo management software. Most people I know just save their photos to somewhere on their hard drive, unaware of the wealth of functionality a dedicated photo management application can offer. Dedicated applications will always offer more functionality than Windows Explorer, so try out Picasa.

Picasa is Google-backed software, so it has tight integration with other Google services, such as Hello (photo-sharing), Gmail (emailing photos to friends), and Blogger (blogging about your photos). The software quality is also consistent with Google's high standards, although I discovered a few disappointing problems, none of which the majority of users will ever notice.

The software, by default, heavily relies on your current photo organization on the hard drive [figure 1], so if you already have one big directory containing 1,000 photos, you'll need to organize those into a better hierarchy, very likely by event [figure 2]. Otherwise, if you're starting from scratch with digital photography, don't worry about it, as your collection will sort itself as photos are added. OH! And make sure everything is located in "My Pictures" in "My Documents" -- that's the de facto place to put digital photos.

Picasa allows you to view slideshows of images, rotate/touch-up your photos, and backup/export your memories. In addition, you can add captions and keywords to aid with searching for particular photos. Finally, you're able to import photos directly from your digital camera without any external software.

The importing of photos is my biggest gripe against Picasa, unfortunately. My camera has well over 350 photos, spanning the period of a year. Unfortunately, Picasa could only preview 338 of those photos [figure 3], so I wasn't able to get to any photos I had taken within the past two months. It also handled importing of the photos poorly: rather than quickly downloading the camera-supplied thumbnails and letting me choose which photos to download in their entirety, Picasa downloaded 338 full-sized images and generated thumbnails, so it took a good 5 minutes before I could even choose which photos to import. After importing those first 338, however, it's still not possible to get to any of the more recent ones without deleting the first 338, which is a major deficiency, although one that most people will never encounter.

I also dislike that, because it's Google-owned, Picasa doesn't support other photo sharing services such as Flickr or blogging services besides Blogger.

Despite those considerations, I like the software, and for organizing, editting, selecting, printing, and sharing photos on Windows, I recommend it (especially if you're not using anything else).

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