Nov 302013
 

Picasa's Email button

I’ve heard of people going to great lengths to prepare and email a picture.  First they (1) edit it and save the changes, then they (2)export it to get a smaller size, then they (3) open their email program and use the attach feature, having to (4) hunt thru their folders to find the exported picture(s) to attach.  Finally, they write their email, address it and send it.

NO, NO, NO

Picasa has an Email Button!

One click of the email button takes care of all 4 steps mentioned above.  Take a look down at the bottom of PIcasa’s screen and you’ll see the Email button.  All you have to do is select the picture(s) you want to email, click the email button, then compose your email and send it.  In the image above, you should see 4 pictures in the selection tray.  When you click the Email button all 4 images will be sent in their edited form and resized according to your settings.  What settings?  The ones you’ll find at Tools->Options->Email (Windows) and Picasa->Preferences->Email (Mac.)

Picasa Email preferences

 

Picasa is not an Email Program

When you use Picasa’s email button, it opens the email program you specify.  Either the default email program that is installed on your computer, or Gmail.  We recommend Gmail, since both Picasa and Gmail are Google products, they work together very well.  If you prefer not to use an @gmail.com address, you can set Gmail to ‘Send mail as’ another address.  If you want to use your computer’s email program and it’s not coming up automatically, here’s the Official Picasa Help on setting up your default email program.

Don’t Email … Share

Last, but not least, we recommend that you not email pictures at all!  If you send me 20 pictures of your latest vacation via email, what am I supposed to do with them?  I’d rather you sent me a link to where I can view them online any time I want without them filling up my Inbox.  So, use the Share button to upload to Picasa Web Albums or Google+, or Export to your Dropbox/Photos if you have a Dropbox account.

For our Geeks on Tour members, we have some videos you should watch:

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as using your smartphone, managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

Aug 082013
 

Change is hard. Those of us who have been using Picasa Web Albums for years, to share our pictures on the web, didn’t like that Google is changing to Google+ Photos and leaving Picasa Web Albums (PWA) behind.  At first, the Google+ picture display fanned out your pictures in each album like cards fanned out in your hand.  I found that to be annoying.  They don’t do that anymore. There were several features in Picasa Web Albums  that were initially missing from Google+, like slideshows, and downloading albums.  Google+ is catching up, those 2 missing features are there now.  For the few features that are still missing, it’s easy to go to Picasa Web Albums and use them there.  What I really love about Google+ Photos now is the way it displays my pictures. It fills the screen with just my photos.  And it automatically enhances them.  Once in a while, I go to Picasa Web Albums and the display makes my pictures look old and plain by comparison.    Here’s a sample of the pictures from my most recent album – shown with Google+ Photos.

google photos

Reasons to Join Google Plus for your Photos

I’m not saying that the confusion is gone.  There’s still a lot to learn when it comes to sharing with Google+, but you can still just share with a link like we’ve always done with PWA.  See this past article on What Happened to Picasa Web Albums.  But, if you tried it before and didn’t like how it handled your pictures, it’s time to give it a second chance. Whenever you log in to your Google account, you probably see this screen (below) where you can join Google+.  Just make sure your name is correct, add your gender, and birthday and you now have Google+ as part of your Google account.  If you should decide you don’t like it, you can always remove the Google+ info from your profile – just make sure you don’t remove your whole account. 

google join

That’s it.  Now, when you upload from Picasa on your computer – you will see them online using Google+.  Here’s Google’s official page explaining Picasa Web Albums and Google+.  Here are the reasons I like using Google+ Photos:

  1. Unlimited free online photo storage if you agree to limit your uploaded photos to 2048 pixels.  That’s plenty big enough for sharing online, or even printing, and the resizing is handled automatically by Picasa on your computer.
  2. Automatic uploading of pictures from your phone or tablet and stored privately online for free.  Just install the Google+ app on your phone or tablet.
  3. Ability to share with ‘circles’ of friends, in addition to the existing public, or private sharing.  You can still share with link.
  4. Beautiful display of your pictures, including auto-enhancing (you can turn this off if you don’t like it – I love it.)
  5. Photo editing, organizing, displaying, and sharing procedures are getting better all the time since Google is putting their efforts into the Google+ product and not Picasa Web Albums
  6. Why not use Google+?  Picasa Web Albums is still there, just use the link: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/myphotos?noredirect=1 and you’ll be seeing the same albums using the Picasa Web Albums interface.

Try Searching

You can do this with Picasa Web Albums as well, but it’s just nowhere near as obvious as in Google+ Photos.  In Picasa Web Albums, when you search for ‘beach’ the default is to search all the public photos anywhere on Picasa Web Albums.  In Google+ photos, the default is to search your own photo library.  It picks up the word ‘beach’ in captions, tags, or album titles, just like Picasa on your computer.  In the sample below, these beach pictures come from Oregon, Florida and Mexico – all from my Web Albums. 

google PhotoSearch

What about You?

Do you use Google+ Photos now?  Are you avoiding it? 

Apr 212013
 

slideshowI’ve written several articles in this PicasaTutorials website about the transition we are undergoing between Picasa Web Albums and Google Plus Photos.  Although Google + Photos has added many new features and is quite impressive these days, there is one feature it still lacks and that is the ability to embed a slideshow of your pictures into your blog post or website.

This previous post tells you how to use the Picasa Web Albums interface to embed a slideshow, but the problem is that when you try to go to www.PicasaWeb.Google.com (the address for your Picasa Web Albums,) you are automatically redirected to Google + Photos.  And, there is no command for embed slideshow anywhere to be found.

If you look carefully at your Google+ Photos screen, you will see a message to “Click here to go back to Picasa Web Albums.”  It does exactly what it says and deposits you at the Picasa Web Albums interface to all your pictures.  There you will find the ‘”Embed Slideshow” link as directed in this previous article.

If you don’t see that yellow box with the link, then try adding the no redirect option to your Picasa Web Album URL.  Just click here:
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/myphotos?noredirect=1

web-albums-slideshow

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, using Android Smartphones, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

Mar 172013
 

Blog-Web-AlbumIf you use Blogger.com for creating your blog, and you upload photos from your computer – that creates a Picasa Web Album.

DO NOT delete that web album with the orange Blogger logo!

People have made this mistake.  They’ve been browsing their Picasa Web Albums and see an album they don’t remember creating.  Thinking it was time to clean up, they deleted the album.  Next time they took a look at their blog, they saw lots of red x’s where the pictures should be.

There’s no way to get the pictures back!

Even if you know what pictures they were, and you re-upload them to a web album using Picasa on your computer – they will be in a different location, a different URL than the original album.  That means that the references to the pictures in your blog will not be correct.  You would need to edit each post and re-insert the images from the new Web Album.

It Gets Worse!

My standard method for adding pictures to a blog post is this:

  1. Using Picasa on my computer, I select the best pictures and Share them online.  They are now located in a Picasa Web Album / Google+ Photos Album (see this post for PWA vs G+) in an album which I named.
  2. Using Blogger, I click the Insert Image button and select “From Picasa Web Albums” (which is the same thing as Google+ Photos.)
    pwa-blogger

Using this method, I don’t even get the little orange Blogger logo to alert me that there are pictures being used in my Blog.  I just tested this and deleted a photo from my Renaissance Faire Web Album that I knew was being used in a blog post.  I got NO WARNING!  I thought for sure I would see “This photo is used in a Blogger Blog post, are you sure you want to delete?”  In fact, I could swear I’ve seen a message like that in the past.  Either they’ve changed it … or I’m dreaming, because it deleted the picture quick as could be without so much as a how do you do!

When I went to the blog post where the picture was used, here is what I saw.  A gray oval with a white dash where the picture should have been.  To fix it, I had to re-share the photo from my computer to the Renaissance Faire Web Album, then edit the blog post and re-insert it.

renfaire

Lesson to Learn

The only way to prevent this is to never delete photos from your web albums!  It’s that simple – just Don’t Delete!  I hope none of you have to learn this the hard way.  I expect better from Google.

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, using Android Smartphones, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

Oct 212012
 

InstantUploadI take lots of pictures with my Android smartphone.  But, then what?  They’re just on my smartphone right?  In my case they are also in the cloud – in a private album called Instant Upload on Google+.  The Instant Upload album is also viewable thru Picasa Web Albums.  Google+ Instant Upload is available for Android and iPhone – or other iOS devices.

So, if I take a bunch of pictures with my smartphone, later in the day when I’m at my computer I will be able to view them by going to Google+ and opening the Photo Album called Instant Upload.  I gotta admit, the first time this happened it was a little freaky.  How did those get there?  So, I looked into it a bit and realized that I had recently installed the Google+ App on my phone, and Instantly Upload photos is a default setting.

Unlimited Storage on Google+ Photos

When Google+ does the uploading, it resizes the picture to a maximum of 2048 pixels on the longest side.  So the picture of our dog, Odie above is 2048X1155 pixels and takes up 1133KB of space.  I use my pictures primarily on web pages, and I think 1024pixels is plenty big, so the 2048 limitation imposed by Google+ is just fine with me.  The picture that still is stored on my phone is 3264 pixels on its longest side and takes up 3.25MB of space.  As long as you accept the default size that Google+ imposes, you have unlimited storage space for your photos!  For Free!

For Geeks on Tour Members, here are some tutorial videos that discuss sizing of pictures, see Explanation of Sizing Pictures, Exporting Pictures for Use in Another Program, Resizing a Batch of Pictures, and Resizing Pictures to Width and Height

How to Start

If you want this feature, first you need to be a member of Google+.  If you have a Google account, you almost there, just go to www.plus.google.com and find the blue ‘Upgrade’ button.  This will upgrade your Google account to a Google Plus account.  Be aware that you are joining a social network – kind of like Facebook.  (see member tutorial videos: Picasa 3.9 and Google Plus Sharing, and Removing Google Plus if you Don’t Like it)

googleplus-playNext, you need to download the Google+ App to your phone.  go to your Google Play Store on your phone and search for Google Plus, then click Install. It’s free.

Third, and last, check the settings on your Google Plus App to be sure they match what you want.  For example, if you have a limited data plan on your phone, you may want your photos to be uploaded ONLY when you are connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot – that’s a setting.  OR, in my case, I have unlimited data, so I don’t mind the upload taking place when I’m using my Verizon data, but I don’t want to drain my battery any more than necessary, so I set the setting for Battery to only upload pictures when the phone is plugged into a  charger.  With the Google+ app opened, just touch the menu button on your phone, then Settings, and you’ll see all the options.

From now on all the pictures you take on your phone will automagically be uploaded to your Google+ Photos, in the private album called Instant Uploads.  Then, if you want, you can download them to your computer!  (see tutorial video: Import Pictures from an Android Smartphone – to see how to get pictures directly from your phone to your computer.)

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

Aug 152012
 

If you have been patiently waiting for the features in Google+ photos to catch up to what we’ve had all along in Picasa Web Albums, your patience was rewarded this week.  One by one, the features we’ve come to expect from PWA are being added to the Google+ interface, and the latest one is the ability to download albums.

downloadalbum

How to Download an Album from Google+ Photos

While you’re viewing an album in Google+ Photos, you should see a menu option in the upper right labeled ‘More.”  Just click on the drop-down arrow to reveal the list and you should see Download Album as an option.  Click that, select your download location and click save.  This will put all the album’s photos into a packaged ‘.zip’ file, so there’s one more step before you’ll see your downloaded photos in Picasa.  You need to UNzip that file (Windows: right-click and Extract all, Mac: open .zip with archive utility)  and put the resulting picture files into a folder in your My Pictures area – or any other folder that Picasa is watching.

If you don’t see the Download album Option

That means that the owner of the album has UNchecked their Google account setting to ‘Allow Viewers to Download Photos.’  This is an account-wide setting, it is not something that can be controlled for individual albums.  To find the setting, click on the Gear icon, click Settings, and scroll down to the Photos section.

Show Me How!

Here is a tutorial video showing you exactly how to download an album from Google Plus.  This is just one of many tutorial videos on Picasa available for Geeks on Tour members.  You can see the whole list here.

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, orbecome a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

Jul 302012
 

Although Google+ Photos has now given us a way to view a slideshow of our photos, I still see no way to grab that slideshow and put it into a Blog or other website.  But, that feature is still there if you use the Picasa Web Albums interface.

Sometimes it is just so much more efficient to view a slideshow than to have numerous pictures posted on your page.  Like these pictures of our week in the Connecticut area:

Open your Album using Picasa Web Albums

Make sure you are logged into the Google account that has the album you’re looking for, then point your browser to https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/myphotos?noredirect=1  You should now be seeing all your photo albums in the Picasa Web Album interface (and it won’t redirect you,) even if you have a Google+ account.  Click on the Album you want, then you will see some options at the right.  Click on ‘Embed Slideshow’.

slideshow.PNG

Copy the HTML code

Now you will be seeing some options for your slideshow.  Choose the size you want, and choose whether you want captions to show.  Then copy the HTML code from the bottom box.  Now, come back to your website, or Blog, editor and make sure you are in the HTML or Source view.  Then paste the code at the location you want the slideshow to appear.  It will look something like the image below.  Notice that it starts with <embed  and ends with embed>. 

html

When you go back to your normal editing view, you will see the slideshow rather than the code. A wonderful thing about using this slide show feature is that it is a live link. If you add more pictures to the album, they will show up in your slide show on your website or blog. Same thing if you delete them. You might even use this technique for a constantly updated set of pictures on your home page.

Learn to make a Blog/Website

If you don’t have a website or Blog, you can learn to make one with Geeks on Tour tutorial videos on how to make a Blog/website.  It’s so easy!  And Blogger is completely free.  Go to the Blogger Learning Library on GeeksonTour.TV.  The first 3 videos are free for you to watch.  To view the rest of them, you need to be a Geeks on Tour member – it’s only $7/monthly, or $58/yearly, or $68 for one year.

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, using Android Smartphones, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

Jun 282012
 

One of the great features about sharing your photos with Picasa Web Albums has been the ability to simply send your friends a link to your album and they can view a slideshow of your photos.  Then Google added Google+ as the preferred way to view your photos … see this past article: What Happened to Picasa Web Albums?  There are some nice new features like online photo editing, automatic cell phone uploads, and unlimited storage, but one missing feature was simply unacceptable to many – the ability to view your pictures full-screen in a slideshow.

Good News!  Google+ Now has Slideshow!

When you’re viewing a photo album in Google+, you need to click on one picture.  When you’re viewing that one picture, you will see a slideshow option in the lower left.  If you click on the image below, it will take you to my photo album so you can try the slideshow feature.

1-Fullscreen capture 6282012 91911 AM.bmp

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, using Android Smartphones, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

May 312012
 

Picasa Web Albums is still there, but with Google entering the social networks game with Google+, the Web Albums are caught in the middle.  Pictures are the number one things that people want to share using social networking sites.  Google is trying to transition from Picasa Web Albums to Google+ Photos, leaving Picasa Web Albums in tact for those who choose not to join Google+.   This transitional period is messy, and it’s changing daily. 

Picasa 3.8 –> Upload to Picasa Web Albums
picasa-webalbums
(click for larger image)
Picasa 3.9 without joining Google+ –> ‘Upload to Web Album’3.9 web album
(click for larger image)

Picasa 3.9 with Google+ account –> Upload and Share on Google+googleplus-albums(click for larger image)

When I sat down to write this article, I was hoping I could make sense of it all and give you a nice, neat explanation of how it all works right now.  I can’t.  There’s just too much, and it’s changing too quickly. 

Here’s what I can tell you:

  1. Your photos are being uploaded to one physical location.  There are two interfaces to view that one set of photos: Picasa Web Albums and Google+ Photos  DO NOT delete pictures from one and expect them to still be there in the other – your online pictures only exist once, if you delete them using either interface, they’re gone. Think of it like separate parents with joint custody. Both Picasa Web Albums and Google+ Photos have joint custody of your uploaded pictures.  When you’re using Picasa Web Albums, you have all the PWA features like slide-shows which are not yet implemented in Google+.
  2. If you haven’t joined Google+ then you will only have the Picasa Web Albums interface available to you.  Nothing has changed except the button in Picasa 3.9 is now green and reads ‘Share’ rather than ‘Upload’ as it was in PIcasa 3.8 – see screenshots above.
  3. If you have joined Google+ then your default interface will be Google+ Photos, but you can manually go to the Picasa Web Albums interface at www.picasaweb.google.com/home
    note: when I say you ‘have joined’ or ‘haven’t joined’ … I mean that you’re logged in with a Google account that ‘has joined’ or ‘hasn’t joined’ Google+.  For example, I have several Google accounts – only one of them has joined Google+.  If I log in with one of the others then I ‘haven’t joined’ Google+
  4. Using Picasa 3.8 on your computer, the button is called ‘Upload’ and you will be using the Picasa Web Albums interface whether you have joined Google+ or not. 
  5. Using Picasa 3.9 on your computer your options are slightly different.  If you have not joined Google+, the button will say ‘Share’ and you’re using the Picasa Web Albums interface.  If you have joined Google+ the button will say ‘Share on Google+’ and you’re using the Google+ interface to your pictures by default.  Remember – your pictures are being uploaded to the same physical location either way (see #1 above.) 
  6. Using Picasa 3.9 and Google+ to create an album viewable by anyone with the link: If you don’t ‘Add circles or people to share with..’ then you are just Uploading – not sharing on Google+.  The album created will be private. Then you can go to the album on Google+, click on Options and change to ‘Share Album via Link.’  This is the equivalent of Picasa Web Album’s visibility property of ‘Limited, anyone with link.’  (see member tutorial video: Picasa 3.9 and Google Plus Sharing)  If you want to join Google+ but you want to keep managing your Web Albums the same way you did in Picasa Web Albums – by sharing links – then this is the technique for you.
  7. Image Size and Unlimited Storage: Using Picasa 3.9 and the Share button, if you leave the image size at ‘Best for Web Sharing’, then you have unlimited storage for free on your Web Albums.  Specifically, any uploaded picture under 2048 pixels (aka ‘Best for Web Sharing) doesn’t count toward your 1GB of free space.
  8. Automatic Uploads from your Phone.  If you have Google+ installed on your smartphone, then it will automatically upload any photo taken with your smartphone to a private album called ‘From Phone’ or, in Picasa Web Albums ‘Instant Upload.’

Removing Google+

If you’ve tried Google+ and you don’t like it and want to go back to the way it was before Google+, you can delete your Google+ Profile.  Do not delete your Google account!  That will delete all your photo albums, email accounts, blogs, and whatever else you’ve created with your Google Account.  To remove Google+ from your Google Account:

  1. On any Google product page, click on the dropdown arrow next to your picture in the upper right corner and choose Account
  2. On your Google account page, click on Google+ from the left side menu, then scroll to the bottom where it reads, “Disable Google+” and click the word ‘here.’
  3. Choose ‘Delete Google+ Content’ and then click the button Remove selected services.
  4. That’s it!  Any content you added to Google+ will be gone – but your pictures will still be there.  Remember?  Picasa Web Albums had ‘joint custody’ with Google+.  If you remove Google+, Picasa Web Albums now has sole custody again.  For more details see member tutorial video Removing Google+ to use Picasa Web Albums.  This video takes an existing Google account and adds Google+, showing what happens to the Web Albums.  Then it removes Google+ and shows the results.

Conclusion

If you used Picasa Web Albums like I did … to house photos that I shared with friends via a link (or to embed in blog)  … then there’s no reason why you can’t join Google+.  The text in blue above, #6, explains the procedure I follow to maintain the same functionality.

Some people really like Google+.  It is a lot faster on my smartphone (and Android i.e. Google phone!) than Facebook.  I really like how it allows me to automatically share my Blogger (also Google) blog posts to all my Google+ friends.  And, the new ‘Local’ feature I expect will be very handy for finding friends’ reviews of favorite eating places and other businesses. 

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, using Android Smartphones, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

Jan 042012
 

To upgrade, or not to upgrade, is that your question?  There are definitely some features worth upgrading for!  And that is what I’ll talk about in this article.  However, your pictures are precious, and any upgrade can have it’s problems on some people’s computers so what do you do first? 

You better know the answer to this question! 

BACKUP!  BACKUP! BACKUP!

Already have a good backup of all your pictures?  Ok, let’s go.  You might be able to upgrade by clicking on Help and Check for Updates but more often than not, this won’t inform you about new versions.  If it reports that ‘This application is up to date’ you can still update to version 3.9 by going to the website at www.picasa.google.com and click the big “Download Picasa” button.  Follow the instructions to download, then install or Run.  Be prepared to wait a bit, this is a bigger file than past versions.  I found that the Run process took an abnormally long time and it had no progress bar showing – so, just be patient, it will finally pop up with the license agreement and, after you click ‘I agree’ and Ok the folder location, you’re almost done.

Cool New Effects

In my last article about Picasa 3.9 I mentioned the differences in your opening screen, this time I want you to take a look at the effects.  There are two more tabs-worth of effects.  As usual with Picasa, they are simple click and maybe drag a slider bar or two to try them out.  If you don’t like the effect, you can always Undo.

Lomo-ish
lomo

The Lomo-ish effect looks more rich, vibrant and focused on the center while the edges are dark.  If you read about Lomography you’ll find that it’s film photography with an old toy camera! 

HDR-ish
stone

The HDR-ish (High Dynamic Range) effect is kind of like Sharpen on steroids. In fact, I find that I need to move the sliders all toward the middle to lessen the effect a bit. But, I really do like the sharpness and contrast that HDR-ish can give. The picture on the left is my original, the right has added HDR-ish effect.

Orton-ish
ortonish

This look comes from a slide-sandwich technique devised by Michael Orton.  In addition to adding depth and richness to the photo, there’s some dreamy, blurring going on.

Framing effects
frame

I think these are my favorite new effects.  The picture above demonstrates both ‘Vignette’ – the dark shadow around the edges, and ‘Museum Matte’ where you can define an inner and outer frame at specified width and color.  There is also ‘Polaroid’ which adds a thick white border, and a simple border or drop shadow.

There’s even more – too many to show you here.  Some of the effects are fun, but I doubt I’ll use them often, like Neon:

Neon:
neon

And, here’s one that I doubt I’ll ever use, but it might be a lifesaver for some folks – Invert colors can be used to make a negative be positive.

Invert Colors: Positive/Negative
invert

Side by Side Editing

All the above images come from using the new feature of side-by-side editing.  You can put one picture up on the screen twice and apply editing features to just one of them to see the difference.  You can also put two different pictures on the screen side by side.  Very easy, and very useful!

New Album Definitions

If you use Albums a lot, this might just be the one feature to make it worth upgrading!  In the past, I’ve had to caution users, and explain in depth how Albums are a Picasa-only feature.  If you copied your pictures to another computer without using PIcasa’s backup and restore, for example, you would lose your album definitions (not the pictures themselves – just the album groupings).  Now, in 3.9, album definitions are stored in the same picasa.ini file as all edits – right in the same folder with the pictures.  So, if you move a folder of pictures to another computer, then install Picasa, it will be able to read the album designations from the Picasa.ini file in the folder, and recreate your albums for you.  Woo Hoo!  One less thing to worry about.

What about Google Plus?

Some folks are distressed that, in version 3.9, Picasa Web Albums seems to be going away and in it’s place is Google Plus.  I have three things to say about that:

  1. Realize that Picasa Web Albums is on the web.  It is a companion to Picasa on your computer that you can choose to use or not. If all you do is use the Picasa software for managing the pictures on your computer, then the change from Picasa Web Albums to Google Plus Photos doesn’t affect you at all.
  2. If you do use Picasa Web Albums – which requires a Google account – and you’ve never linked your Google account to Google Plus, then nothing has changed for you.  When you click the ‘Share’ button you will be sharing on Picasa Web Albums.  Google will continue to encourage you to join Google Plus, but so far as I can tell, you can just say no.  I’m not sure how long this will be true, but if Picasa Web Albums does morph completely into Google Plus Photos, I doubt that sticking with an old version of the Picasa computer program will make a difference.
  3. Google is on the move and we can’t stop them – I can’t anyway.  It makes a lot of sense for Google to be rounding up their successful products like Picasa and Blogger and bringing them in under one company umbrella like Google Plus.  Google is giving us these amazing products for free, they deserve to have their brand on them. 

Go Ahead … Upgrade

So, my recommendation is to go ahead and upgrade to 3.9.  It has some cool new effects, and one really important change under the hood with Albums.  Things are changing with Picasa Web Albums, but you don’t have to participate if you don’t want.  Hey, you can even use Picasa and just share photos online with Facebook, or Flickr, or PhotoBucket.  But, if you go along with Google, you might even find you like Google Plus!

I’m still just hoping they improve the Folder/Collections sidebar!

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.