Albums and Tags are both methods of identifying and grouping your photos. Any given picture can be marked to appear in many Albums. And, any given picture can have many tags (aka keywords.) See last week’s article on Tags. The main difference is that Tags are bits of data that are stored with the picture itself and Albums are a creation of Picasa. You can even see Tags while browsing your pictures in Windows My Pictures. It works the other way too. Tags entered using Windows will be useable in Picasa. Tags are stored with the picture just like the date taken is stored with the picture.
Here’s how tags show up in Windows Explorer:
I love Picasa’s Album feature, but it makes me nervous. You see, albums are a creation of Picasa alone. They are easy to lose because the information about a picture belonging to an album is not stored with the picture. It’s stored in a separate database file, buried in the user Profile, called a .pal file. If something gets messed up with your Albums, you can use a backup of the .pal file to get them back. There are lots of messages in the user forum like this message which discusses how to get albums restored. It is not a simple matter.
Use Albums *and* Tags
Here’s how I do it. Once I’ve created an album, I’ll select all the pictures in that album and assign a tag. Now I have the best of both worlds, I have the album in Picasa which can be used just like a folder, but if I should delete that album, I can still find and group all the pictures by searching for the tag.
For example, let’s say I have an album for all the photos I’ve ever taken in Utah. I use that album to play slideshows. I will also select all the pictures in the album and apply a tag ‘Utah.’ You do that by clicking on ‘Tags’ in the lower right corner (or shortcut Ctrl-T) typing Utah, and press Enter.
When I tire of playing the Utah slideshow I might delete the Album ‘Utah’, secure in the knowledge that I could re-create it at any time just by searching for ‘Utah.’ My search results will find all the pictures tagged with Utah. ‘Search results’ is actually a temporary album – that temporary album can now be used just like any other album. You can play a slideshow from the temporary album. Or, you can select all pictures in the temporary album and add them to a new, permanent album.
Be aware that your search might find the word ‘Utah’ in other places besides the tags. Search uses filenames, captions, and folder names and descriptions as well. If you really want the tag to be used just to re-create this exact album, you’ll need a unique tag like, “utah-album.” Also make sure there are no spaces or commas. Although you can have multi-word tags, if there is a space – search will treat each word separately and you’ll still end up with more than you wanted.
Show Tag as Album
There is also an experimental tool that, with one click, will display a tag as an album. It’s Tools / Experimental / Show Tag as Album. When you use this, the album will show up on the very top of the Album list (left side of library) as a green – Picasa generated – album.
If any of you have used this ‘Show Tag as Album’ feature, please leave a comment to tell us if it worked well for you.
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- Searching for Pictures
- Using Tags aka Keywords
- Using Search to Create a Temporary Album
- Starring Pictures