Jan 072010

Have you heard the one about the lumberjack who decides to turn in his trusty old axe for a new chainsaw?  After struggling for several days with the chainsaw and not felling even one tree, he decides to return it to the store.  He tells the salesman that the chainsaw doesn’t work and he wants his axe back.  The salesman decides to see what is wrong with the chainsaw so he starts it up.  The lumberjack jumps back with surprise saying, ‘What’s that Noise?’

Picasa is easy, but it’s not foolproof.  It’s important to take some time up front to learn how it works.  There are 5 things I keep seeing people do with Picasa that are wrong.  Because they don’t have a good foundation of understanding the program, they use tools the way they *think* they work, rather than learning how they really work.  The results is a mess.

  1. image Using the Import tool instead of the Folder Manager.
    As you collect more and more photos, I see people putting photos on an external hard drive.  This is a wonderful idea, BUT – when they open Picasa they use the Import tool to be able to see them.  The Import tool is meant to copy pictures from an external device (usually your camera) to your computer.  Now they have the pictures twice!  Once on the External Hard Drive, and again on their computer’s built-in Hard Drive.  What they should have used is the Folder Manager.  The Folder Manager tells Picasa to watch the pictures in their original location – not copy them.
  2. imageCreate an Album – then delete the original picture
    Picasa is designed to be an efficient manager of all your pictures.  You store your pictures in Windows (or Mac) Folders with some simple, logical storage system either by event or by month.  Without changing your folders, Picasa gives you tools to view your pictures in different ways.  The Album feature is a way to create different categories of pictures regardless of the folder in which they’re stored.  (Note: This is *not* Picasa Web Albums I’m talking about here … it’s just ‘Albums’ in the Picasa software on your computer.)
    So often, I hear people say, “I copied my picture into an album, then I deleted it from the folder.”  NO!!  The picture only exists once – and that is in the folder – albums are like playlists, they just point to the picture in whatever folder it is stored.  If you delete it from the folder … IT’S GONE.
  3. imageMoving pictures with computer tools outside of Picasa
    If you want to move pictures from your computer to an external hard drive, *don’t* do it with Windows Explorer (or Mac Finder.)  If you do, your Albums in Picasa will be destroyed.  Remember, an album is a list of pointers to pictures in their folders.  If you move a folder’s location the album pointer needs to know about the change.  PIcasa makes it very easy to move folders and, when you do it with Picasa, it will update all the album information to follow the new locations.
  4. imageUsing Export instead of Save
    When you edit a picture, Picasa doesn’t change the actual picture.  Picasa remembers all your edits and displays the picture to you accordingly, but if you look at the picture outside of Picasa you won’t see any of the edits.  To make a picture outside of Picasa that looks like the edited version, many people use the Export command.  This creates an entirely new picture … now they have two!  If they had used the Save command instead, it would have applied the edits to the one existing photo.
  5. imageI don’t Need Backups because I use Picasa”
    This one truly surprises me, but I hear it over and over.  People have heard that Picasa includes Picasa Web Albums and, for some reason they think that it automatically puts all your pictures on the Web Albums.  No, No, No.  Picasa is software on your computer, PIcasa Web Albums is a free online photo-sharing website that is a companion to Picasa.  First of all, even if you do upload your pictures to Picasa Web Albums, I don’t consider that a backup.  Picasa Web Albums is a method to share your pictures with friends and family.  You still want your original safe on your computer and backed up to CD/DVD or external Hard Drive. Secondly, Picasa doesn’t do anything automatically … it’s good, but it’s not magic!  Picasa includes a command to ‘Backup Pictures’ … it’s very easy … USE IT!

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Although Picasa is easy to use, it is SO important to understand how it works.  A little up-front time spent learning will save you so much time in the long run.  We have lots of resources to help:

  25 Responses to “Five Deadly Sins of Picasa”

  1. I’m hoping for some insight as to the “scan once and storage on a external HD vs scan once and keeping images on the CPU drive.”

    If I have Picasa scan the external HD once, that will get the photos into Picasa but if I then remove the USB connection will the images remain in Picasa for viewing?

    I’m asking rather than trying because I have 100 GB of images and hoping to find out rather than experiment. The only other option is to keep all of them on the laptop hard drive which is getting full quickly.

    Thanks for the help.

  2. I don’t like the fact that this Picasa program just takes over pics. If I wanted a program to do this function I would’ve asked. The picasa program doesn’t even ask! Now all my pics on my phones SD card are on picasa and now I can’t move them back to where I wanted them. To me this is a complete invasion of privacy and I’m surprised they haven’t been sued yet. I have pics and stuff from deceased family members and if they are not able to be retrieved I will be getting a lawyer.

  3. HELP!!

    Let me just first say I have all my pictures backed up on an external hard drive.
    Now I have all my picture folders picasa and I have “synced to web”. Now when I delete the picture folder off the computer, I find it also deletes from picasa….help. Now I have found that only some folders have remand on picasa that I have deleted from computer. Why? I’m so confused

  4. So you’re saying that people make a mistake by assuming they don’t need backups, and they’re also making a mistake by using import from an external drive because it… (wait for it)… creates duplicates. It seems that by doing the latter, it solves the former.

    • okee dokee, I guess I was too brief. When I say that “as people are collecting more and more pictures – they are using external hard drives” I was assuming they are moving pictures off of their computer and onto the hard drive to open up space. Then if they ‘Import’ rather than ‘scan folder’ they are putting them right back on their hard drive.

  5. Having sight problems that are slowing down solutions.

    1. I just tried to save an eBay SOLD page and it saves in Picasa in a long skinny strip that’s unreadable, what am I doing wrong?

    2. How do you open a new (blank) page in Picasa? In Adobe PS an old trial version and my favorite, I’ve always been able to make composites and can’t figure out how to in Picasa.

  6. Hi folks, I don’t know lot about computer so please help me to answer this, thank you bunch! For eg. I have a computer that has limited hard drive space(let’s just say 100GB). I saved 50 GB worth of pictures and photos in “My Picture” (C drive). If I go ahead and download Picassa photo editing software for PC in my computer all of my photos get transfer to Picassa program as well. Does that mean now I have 100 GB worth of photo in my computer?

    • No Sean, Picasa tracks the photos in their original location – it doesn’t make a second copy of them, you’re fine.

  7. why do i keep writing key words and metatags, just to lose it all after another mysteriously failed youtube upload???? Grrrrrrrrrrrr!

  8. Hi, nice article.

    Although Picasa Web Albums is a photo-sharing website I use it as backup. I always send photos in their original size and my albums are all private. So I guess that my picture are as safe as ordinary documents in services like Google Drive or Drop Box. Am I correct?

  9. This is not a reply. This is a plea. Windows crashed. I just learned about Picasa backup. I spent months labeling “Picasa People”. Can I resurrect my details. Can someone tell me how to get my old Picasa back? with the data? thaks

  10. Please help me! I just downloaded picasa and it uploaded ALL the images off of my computer. I’ve now got HUNDREDS of folders that I’d like to delete because a lot of them are crap but I’m afraid to delete anything. All I wanted to do was try to get better organized with my photos and maybe make some blog banners. I just wanted to be able to import the best pictures I take, not all the crappy ones. Is there a way to undo this and start over?! Help!!! :-/

  11. 1 million thank yous for tip number 1 i nearly lost 165 pictures and 22 videos because i did not realize that it saved them to “C” instead of where i thought it did. Was going to upgrade computer and wipe this comp sell it on e-bay. thank you so much for all the other tips too!!

  12. Picasa is a great piece of software, and the user experience very slick. I have recently started using the People tagging and am amazed at how well it works.
    HOWEVER: it is NOT a solution to say that all file activities must take place in PICASA (SIN3 “Moving pictures with computer tools outside of Picasa”). I synchronise information from my desktop to my laptop, and want the metadata to make part of the individual file. Google of all places should know that information in the age should be portable!!!
    The only reason I do not use Picasa exlusively is because I cannot embed tags in my actual images!

  13. What is the difference between Remove from Picasa and Delete Folder.


  14. my Picasa retouch brush was replaced by a drag pointer.. how do i turn it back into the retouch brush??

  15. well i used picasa to clip off 5 minutes of a long movie and when I exported it, the audio went away for the new video. the original still works but it’s too long to put on a dvd which is why i clipped in the first place. what do i do?

  16. Hi… I absolutely agree with 4 out of 5 of these. I’m reading that going “Yeah… Yep… Right…”

    I disagree on Export, though… 🙂
    I NEVER save.
    As long as you stay within Picasa, there’s no good reason to ever save.

    And if I need photos for use in another program, Export makes perfectly good sense. I probably want downsized versions of the photos anyway. Export lets me do that.

    And if I did do the save, that forces Picasa to stash the originals off in the .picasaoriginals folder. Wasted disk space. And I can’t even see the original any more (if I wanted to).

    So, I do my export… I use the exported photos in the other program (maybe a Nero-generated video DVD slideshow, for example). And then I delete the exported folder of photos.

    On the “moving photos to an external drive” – you will blow away your album definitions unless you use Picasa to move the photos. You MUST do a right-click -> “Move Folder…” on each folder you want to move to the external drive.

    • Hey Don,
      So good to see you here. I’ve learned a lot from you on the forums. I’d like to give you a complimentary membership to view all my videos – if you send me an email (http://geeksontour.com/emailform.cfm) I will do that.
      As for Export – yes, I do the same that you do. I *never* save and use Export when needed. This tip was in response to people I’ve seen who Export everything, every time they edit. They were using it like a save command because they didn’t know about the save command. What a mess of duplicates they had! And they didn’t realize their ‘saved’ versions were much lower quality.
      I don’t use the save command, and I try to explain why, BUT when people just don’t GET why the picture they upload to Facebook is missing the edits they made in Picasa – telling them just to save in Picasa is SO much easier. Only harm done is that they now have a backup copy.

  17. After I download my photos to Pictures, I edit them in Picasa since it is so easy.
    My screen saver, however scans “pictures” and then I might have upside down photos. When I go to correct it(clockwise)in pictures, changes take place in Picasa,also and then, my Picasa photos are upside down.

  18. The album was created in Picasa with the pictures on the C: drive.
    The whole My Pictures folder was moved to an external hard drive with Windows Explorer. If the pictures are moved back to the My Pictures folder on the C: drive, will the “pointers” for the album remember the location?

    • Gordon – good question. I’m afraid I don’t know. It’s worth a try. The album ‘pointers’ are actually located in a special database in the user profile area. As long as the album still exists in that database, then if the pictures are back ‘where they belong’ I think the album should re-populate. What I’m not sure of is when the database adjusts itself to the missing pictures. Meanwhile, I think I’ll write a tip about how you can bullet-proof your albums by assigning a tag to all the pictures in an album.

  19. Have used Picasa for a long time and have made all of the mistakes you point out. Now I have a huge cluge of duplicates, missing photos, Canon, Kodak, Nikon, Nero pictures (and others). I have backup and backup to the backup and about seven files with the name my pictures. I have different names for identical files and I have some folder management messes that go as deep as my pictures/my picutes/ my pictures. It’s a mess.
    How best to start to it out “clean”. I don’t mind working at it but I think there must be a “simplest” way to start out.

  20. Good tips. I’m waiting for Picasa to provide better network support. I want all my photos and database to exist on a NAS, while any computer in the home network can view said photos in Picasa. Currently, this is a big headache, especially trying to set up name tags.

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