Picasa is a free digital photo organizer and editor which has improved considerably since its first release. Although I expect better organization and search capabilities from a Google product, Picasa is excellent for beginners and casual digital shooters who want to find all their pictures, sort them into albums, do quick edits, and share with friends and family. Folks with very large photo collections and advanced editing needs should look elsewhere. Picasa 3.5 no longer bears the "beta" designation, adds excellent people recognition technology, and improves the geotagging, import, and keyword tagging features.
- Picasa is free and runs on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux.
- Provides good red-eye removal, quick fixes and effects, and online sharing options.
- Editing info is stored in INI files, making all edits reversible without saving multiple versions.
- Designed for non-techies and casual digital photographers.
- Offers excellent people recognition technology.
- Tied to your computer's folder-based system of organization.
- Limited organization and search capabilities.
- Only 1 GB of free online storage falls short of the competition.
- Litters your computer's folders with Picasa.ini files.
- Picasa scans your computer for pictures and organizes them into albums based on folders and dates.
- Automatic import from USB cameras, scanners, memory card readers, and CD drives. Supports RAW files.
- Monitor selected folders for new pictures (including network drives).
- Organize with virtual folders called Albums. Add keywords & search by keyword, caption, and album information.
- Remove red-eye, crop, rotate, one-click enhance, auto and manual tuning, add text, and retouch . All edits can be reversed.
- One-click effects: sharpen, B&W, sepia, warm, tint, film grain, soft focus, glow, saturation, etc.
- Export photos as Web pages, movies, collages, and posters; Create Gift CDs for sharing.
- Email pictures or share online with Google Web Albums, Blogger, YouTube, and Google Earth.
- Order prints through online photo labs, or print photo layouts and contact sheets yourself.
- For Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac, and Linux. Older Picasa versions are available for Windows 2000/Me/98.
Guide Review - Picasa Digital Photo Software from Google
When you first run Picasa, it finds and sorts all your pictures into albums based on existing folder names. This may sound good in theory, but it's not very useful if you don't already have descriptive folder names. If you're just starting with digital photography, it's fine, but if you have a lot of pictures already, you may need to make adjustments.
In addition to the folders list, you can create custom photo groupings using "Albums." Pictures can also be annotated with keywords and captions which are written to the photo files. Picasa does not offer a system for rating photos, but you can apply a star to photos you wish to mark as favorites.
As a Google property, you'd expect superior search capabilities in Picasa, but the lack of any kind of advanced search in a time when photo collections are becoming increasingly large is a major downfall in Picasa.
Picasa now provides full online synchronization with web albums. I'd really like to see them increase the free storage, however. With Microsoft offering free 25 GB, Photoshop.com at 2 GB, and Gmail is up to 8 GB, the 1 GB you get for Picasa Web Albums feels rather skimpy.
But there is little else negative I can say about Picasa. The newest feature of people recognition performs amazingly well, blowing away the competition for its debut appearance in Picasa 3.5. In addition, the keyword tagging feature has been improved further and is now quite useful. Picasa 3.5 includes date editing, which is desirable for scanned images and those inevitable situations when you camera loses its date settings. Photo import is improved as well, so you can mark your favorites for upload and sharing during the import stage.
Picasa has just about everything home users will need for working with and sharing their personal digital photos. Version 3.5 is a great step forward for what was already an excellent photo manager for beginners. It works on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and best of all, it's free!