Feb 112011

Question: I need to transfer my complete Picasa library from my desk top computer to my new laptop computer.   Suggestions?

Great question!  I know a lot of people are getting new computers these days, and Picasa can make it very easy to transfer all your pictures if you do it right.  What you do is make a complete backup of your pictures on your desk top computer, then restore that backup to your new laptop.  Use Picasa’s backup tool to do this.  You will need a USB drive to do this.  A thumb drive will do if it has enough capacity, otherwise you’ll need an external hard drive.  Picasa will inform you how much capacity you need.

You can use a thumb drive if it has enough free spaceimage

Otherwise, you can use an external hard drive.


Step one: Using Picasa’s Backup Tool

While you’re viewing your complete Picasa Library on your old computer, click on the Tools menu, then ‘Backup Pictures’.  At the bottom of your screen, you will see some backup options in two steps:

  1. Create a Set or Use an Existing One
  2. Choose Folders and Albums to Backup

For #1, on the left, choose ‘New Set.’  You should see the following dialog box.  Make sure to check Disk-to-Disk backup and then Choose… to get the drive letter of your USB drive.  Mine is I:

Click Create.


Now, under #2: Choose folders and albums to backup, click the Select All button.  This may take a few seconds.  When it’s done, Picasa will report to you the size of the combined files.  Make sure your USB device is large enough to hold all of it.  In my case, I would need a device with at least 85.6 GB of free space.  You may want to use disks (CDs or DVDs) for this, then you will have a permanent archival copy of all your pictures as well.  I am recommending USB drives because of the potential space necessary.  There’s no way that I’m going to sit there and feed it 20 DVDs!  If you want to use disks, you would need to change the option in #1 above.


When it’s ready, click the Backup button.  If your Backup button is grayed out, it probably means you don’t have enough free space on the destination drive.

It is important to use Picasa’s Backup tool rather than some other kind of backup because Picasa will also backup your Album definitions, Face recognitions, and other Picasa-specific data and settings.

Restore to your New Laptop in Original Locations

When the backup procedure is completed, you can take the USB drive to your new computer.  After you plug it in, it should automatically run the restore program.

If it doesn’t automatically do this, then you’ll need to navigate on your USB drive to the Picasa backup location, find the file named PicasaRestore.exe and double click on it.

Make sure to Restore files in Original Locations.  This is important if you want your Albums to be restored correctly.  Remember, Albums are just pointers to the actual pictures.  The pointers won’t work if the pictures aren’t in the same places.


Click Next, then click Restore Files.  In just a minute, your entire library will be recreated on your new 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.

Members may want to view the following tutorial videos.  Not a member?  Join now.


Moving Folders Among Multiple Hard Drives

Backup your Photos to CDBackup Monthly to Disk (CD or DVD)


  43 Responses to “Move Pictures to a New Computer”

  1. Trying to transfer my photos from my old laptop Windows 7 to my new laptop Windows 8. The tutorial works to some extent in that it calculates how much space I need to move the photos,but there is no ‘backup’ option only ‘burn’. and don’t want to do that. I have the external hardrive plugged into the computer with lots of space onit

  2. Will this work from PC to Mac? I have downloaded Picasa to my Mac and followed above procedure and have my Picasa Back Up on a Cruiser Memory Stick. Is it a sumple matter of inserting the Cruiser in the USB port and running it?

  3. Should I download Picasa to the new computer before transferring the backup from the old computer?

  4. Worked like a charm, transferred 19.5 GB from WIN XP to WIN 8.1

  5. It is amazing how little forethought goes into these programs.

    You can spend huge amounts of work organizing your photos, and it is all locked to specific directory paths. ThumbsPlus has been around for many years and has exactly the same problem.

    Why not functionality to search and rebuild the new paths as long as the actual file names have not changed?

  6. Thanks, it worked perfectly.

  7. I want to move my pictures and Picasa from a Windows 7 computer to a new Windows 8 computer. Doesn’t Picasa only point to folders containing the actual pictures? If that is the case, I’m unclear how a backup & restore of Picasa actually moves the pictures to a new computer. So,don’t I need to actually move the folders containing the pictures to my new computer first and then do a backup/restore of Picasa?

  8. Using the Picasa 3.9 restore option does not restore the memorized faces if you are not restoring to the exact same path. Restoring to the same path was not an option for me. What do I do to get the “faces” database to reconnect to the new path?
    Old path was: C:Documents and Settings%username%My DocumentsMy Pictures
    New path is D:My Pictures

  9. Can I write the backup to the new computer directly (through Windows network group)? If so, how would I run the “restore” step? I already backup the videos and photos and with ~80GB of content, I do not want to copy those again. I would prefer just to relocate the Picasa metadata/tags. Is there a shortcut to do that? Thanks in advance for any assistance.

  10. How do I move (copy) everything all the pictures and albums I have on my old laptop running XP to a new laptop with Windows 8? I’m not the smartest when it comes to computers so any and all advice (in detail) would be appreciated,

    Pam Lorenzen

  11. I have Picasa on two computers (desktop and laptop) but I would like to know if it is possible to move all albums and pictures to an external drive and then manage/edit albums and pictures from the external drive on either computer. Then all future imports go to the external drive. In other words, make Picasa albums and pictures portable. I have over 20,000 pictures.

    How? Backup to the external drive and then restore back to itself on the external drive?

    • No, just move the pictures to the external hard drive. Then use Folder manager to have the second computer see them. If you’re a Geeks on Tour member, please post in the forum and we can go into further detail.

  12. When you choose Restore on the new computer, you should have had an option to restore to a different location from where it was backed up. That’s how you put it on the C drive.

  13. I would appreciate any help or work round this problem…

  14. Although this will move the pictures from the old computer to the new one it is still bad enough since i need to move my library to a new drive. The old laptop had two drives and I placed my photos on the D drive. Now the new Laptop has the space on the C drive and; hence; I need to place the photos on this drive. The available BackUp in Picasa is not helpful and now I will have to do the job again to recognise all the photos!! Bad enough when you have over 10,000 photo !! 🙁

  15. Hi – thanks for the nice clear explanation. I’m getting unstuck with the Restore however. I run PicasaRestore.exe fine: my photos are copied onto the new computer, presumably along with all the relevant Picasa files. I then install Picasa and run it, BUT then get the message “Picasa is ready to search for pictures on your computer” and get choices for where to search. This just rebuilds a new database but doesn’t seem to restore the old one. How can you actually restore the old database (albums, tags, faces, etc)? Anyone else run into this problem? Thanks!

  16. When following the above procedure, to transfer one’s Picasa world from existing Windows 7 computer to new Windows 7 computer, two questions:
    1. Does one install the Picasa software (that one gets from Google) as the first step in the procedure or the last step in the procedure?
    2. If one has already transferred all of the photos from old computer to new computer, and put them all in the exact same locations, is there a way to run the transfer procedure to only move the Picasa settings, albums, etc, and NOT have to transfer all the photos a second time as well?
    Thank you in advance.

    • David, that is exactly what I want to know. Did you get any reply on your questions or did you tested and know the answers?

  17. Hi,
    My macbook recently died and I had many pictures/folders from Picasa on that computer. I am borrowing a new laptop and thought that since I saved my pictures on Picasa that I would be able to retrieve them from any computer as long as I signed into my account. However, I tried and only a couple of “web albums” came up…none of my folders! Is there anyway to get all those folders to my new computer? Any access to them? I guess I assumed using Picasa was the same as backing them up. Does Picasa only save “web ablums”?

  18. I made a backup to an external HD using Picasa backup tool. Attached the ext HD to new laptop. It did not automatically run the restore programme so I looked on the ext drive and found a folder named PicasaRestore.app I’ve searched this folder but cannot find .exe file.
    Where should it be? And if it isn’t there -what do I do?

  19. I always visit your blog and retrieve everything you post. Wonderful mate!

  20. I have backed up my picasa library from my old computer onto an external hard drive. I want to add the library to a new computer that already has a small picasa library started. Would the process for transfering the pictures be the same as described above, just simply plug in the external hard drive? Thanks!

  21. Hi, thank you for the backup tutorial. I backed up Picasa to my external HD and then plugged it in to my laptop. When I clicked on the restore.exe file, it copied EVERYTHING that is on the HD onto my laptop :(. Is there any way that you can select just the Picasa files to restore? Kind regards

  22. That’s really nice information about the moving Pictures to a New Computer. However as per my view I am buying a new desktop computer. I love to work on application development.

  23. Looks easy, but… I already moved photos from my old laptop using standard backup/restore software. While I no longer have face tags or Albums, I do have photos. If I use the Picasa backup procedure above, will I end up with two copies of all photos in my new laptop or will it overwrite the Picasa files already there? What do you recommend I do?

  24. I would love to do this process BUT. My PC’s motherboard died before I could do a back-up. I’ve installed my old drive into my new PC and can access the data but not boot from it. Is there an advanced way that I can do a backup?

  25. I made a backup to an external HD using Picasa backup tool. Attached the ext HD to new laptop. It did not automatically run the restore programme so I looked on the ext drive and found a folder named PicasaRestore.app I’ve searched this folder but cannot find .exe file.
    Where should it be? And if it isn’t there -what do I do?

    thanks v much

  26. I followed these instructions and everything transferred to my new computer without any issues, blue albums and all.

    The only problem is that for some reason Picasa is not able to link up my pre-existing web albums to the albums on the new computer. When I try to sync a web album, it creates a new one.

    Any ideas on how to resolve this issue?

  27. Hi there!
    My hard drive just crash and the only copy of my latest pictures are in the picasa online server.
    I’m trying to download the folder structure I had before but the only possibility I can find is to import web albums. This is not what I need. I would like to download and synchronize my pictures into my new hard disk without change the way I treat the structure(Meaning folders are folders and web-albums are web-albums).
    Is there any option to download the folder structure as I had before?

    Is there a way to connect to the server via sftp, ftp or ssh to download the pictures?

    Thanks for your help 🙂

    • As you said, ‘Folders are folders, and web-Albums are web-albums’ You can download web-albums to your computer, but that will create a folder the same as the web-album. You folder structure existed on your hard drive – which you say has crashed. I don’t see any way to recreate that except from memory – download all your web albums then use picasa to move pictures around into the desired folder structure.

  28. my computer crashed with all my pictures on picasa. how can I get them back on the new computer?

  29. Here’s the thing. I’m actually okay with tediously reconstituting my albums, though the provided link offers hope for doing that more efficiently.
    My biggest concern is throwing away all the work I did properly linking faces to pictures. I do NOT want to repeat this task with all my pictures. I tried some small scale imports from my PC to my Mac using Picasa on each end. I thought if I imported a folder of pictures complete with the picasa file that is in each folder of pictures on my PC, then the face tags would also be imported. Did not happen. Disappointing.
    In the provided link, I only found the word “face” once and that reference was not pertinent to my question.

  30. Good question … I don’t have a Mac, so I can’t test that out. Can anyone else here answer?
    I checked the forums and found this: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Picasa/thread?tid=5b6f5952404eb446&hl=en

  31. Will this work transfering from a PC laptop to a brand new Mac laptop?
    Any potential pitfalls?

  32. Well, that explains why my albums are not in my new computer. Can I just move them over now?

  33. Does this actually transfer the physical copy of the photos or just the library saying where the photos are and the face recog?

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.