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! 


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.


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! 


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.


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

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:


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

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.

  34 Responses to “Upgrading to Picasa 3.9”

  1. Enjoying Picas’s services for downloading and emailing pictures plus PRINTING selected photos. The best collour and texture. Great to be the customer of Picasa 3. Now trying to upgrade my current Picasa 3.
    Isaiah Komaravalli

  2. one of the best!

  3. I have downloaded 3.9 on a mac running Mountain Lion and it will not attach photos to my emails. I am using mac mail. I have photos in the tray, click the email button, mail prog starts with a new email, enter an address, and it sends with text saying, “i have attached 2 photos for you.” But there are no attachments. Any ideas?


  4. I download pix that I receive on e’mail to (saved on my pc). How can I get these pix onto picasa? I can only open them if i’m online. And I can’t print them or resend them from there.

  5. I have uninstalled and reloaded the newer version of Picasa several times now and keep getting the same problem. When I am working with collages and try to save them, Picasa becomes unresponsive even after several hours. When I close the program and reopen it, I can see the collages in draft mode but still cannot get them to save. I used the collage feature for years without any issues.

    Any solutions?


  6. Picasa has sucked ever since about version 3.6.
    I deleted Google+ ( not the account) they tell me all my pics should be in Picasa web albums but some are not. (I have backups on my computers) will they migrate there after a few days?
    Isn’t there a better photo handling method.
    Picasa sucks everything from my desktop and other places into the album without asking. Can I stop this?

  7. Like picasa a lot sorry I never typed a comment in Picasa

  8. Like picasa a lot

  9. I am unable to edit any photos at all with Picasa. This is a recent problem. I have been using this
    program for several years and have never had a problem before now. I can’t use auto any of the basic
    fixes. I can do some of the other special effects, but they don’t hold once I go back to other photos.I have uninstalled Picasa, then reinstalled, but it does not correct the problem. If I can’t get this corrected soon, I will need to locate another photo program.

  10. Help! I have suddenly had a problem with my Picasa. I get “Picasa not responding” when I try to download a camera disk via a card reader AND the cord with the camera on TWO separate computers that I have Picasa on. I have taken Picasa off and reinstalled on both (Laptop and desk top) and this still happens. Any ideas?? I have also upgraded although I have received “your already using newest version of Picasa.

  11. Can any one tell me when ever I get on Picsa, which is my only place for my pictures, I love the effects I get. But it always freezes on me, not responding is always says. Ann

  12. How do I take pictures sent to me via my WindMail and put them in a Picasa folder?

    I have updated, and it works fine. A friend of mine did the same, and face rcognition is now off. We tried to activate it in “Tools” “Settings” without luck. Does anyone know what went wrong here or how to reactivate it? Thanks for help.

    • Look in Tools -> Folder Manager as well, each folder can have face recognition turned off.

  14. I downloaded picasa 3.9 but now all my collages have vanished.Does anyone have advice to get them back.

  15. Thanks for the article, although I have a note of caution on the albums in Picasa 3.9. I ran into an issue when I tried to move my albums to a new Win7 computer from an XP, that the order of the pictures in my albums was not preserved. The albums are there and they do have all of the pictures, but not in the original order.

    Checking the forums, it seems it is not only me. It looks like in the current implementation (in 3.9.0 build 136.04) the order of the pictures in the album is not stored in the .picasa.ini files in each directory, so if the database is rebuilt, the order of pictures in the album is lost. The albums are recreated and they do have all of the pictures, but they are in the order they were encountered by Picasa when rebuilding the db. Unfortunately this happens to me even when I create a picasa “backup set” on the old computer and restore to the new. If anyone has suggestions please let me know before I start on reordering all of my albums!

  16. You’re right Google plus doesn’t have a slide show feature … Yet. Meantime, you can manually go to the Picasa web album interface, picasaweb.google.com/home and send your link from the album there.

  17. Ever since Google Plus launched at least half of my family recipients of my Picasa Web albums that I share ‘ via email’ send an email with links that put the pictures into a ‘collage’ in Google Plus.

    Unlike the previous Picasa web albums in the past, this Google Plus collage does not have a slide show as fare as I can tell.. It is vastly inferior to the old Picasa web album where you can open a slide show and view the pictures on full screen.

    Do you or anybody else have a way to send the links such that the album is displayed as a slide show. I am tempted to ‘dis enroll’ from Google Plus in attempt to shed the terrible ‘ collage’ version of Google PLus albums.

    • When I did the last “share via email”, clicking on the emailed link would take the recipient to g+ collage of the pictures. Clicking on the picture did seem to launch a g+ slideshow view. But I did see a small yellow box at the top briefly appear that said “Click here to go back to Picasa Web Albums.” (with “here” as a link.) As promised, the link redirected me to the picasa web album with the picasa web slideshow, which I think is what you would want. The yellow box only appeared briefly, you have to click fast!

  18. […] wait … reports of Picnik’s death may have been greatly exaggerated!  Have you noticed the extra 2 tabs of effects in Picasa 3.9?  Most of those features were taken from Picnik.  And, if you use Picasa Web Albums, or […]

  19. upgrade

  20. I miss the old sharpening feature. On 3.9 you see not change when you try to sharpen images.

  21. Bonjour,
    depuis que j’ai Picasa version 3.9,je ne sais pas comment Télécharger sur mon disque dur les albums photos que l’on m’envoie.

    avec la version ancienne 3.8, il suffisait d’envoyer l’album photo dans Picasa puis de l’exporter dans mon disque dur.

    Merci par avance de me répondre.

  22. Thank You!!

  23. Question: I have downloaded Picasa 3.9 for Mac. No problem with that, but what has happened to the editing windows? Is the only access to editing now by double clicking on a photo or by clicking on the menu bar under View? Doable, but not as handy.

    • uhhh … I’m stumped. How did you get to the editing window before? I’ve always double-cicked. I’m on a PC but I have used the Mac version and that’s how I did it.

  24. Thank you for the information! I was waiting to hear your take on it before I jumped into Picasa 3 because I have no need to share albums. The new effects look great; the Invert Colors in your sample looks like a painting to me. You do a great job explaining Picasa & other new tech things! I am not an RV’r, but glad I found you! My only wish is for more Mac-related stuff.

  25. Thanks- you are at least honest, even though you’re “tongue-in-cheek” sometimes. COOL ! I, like so many other people have been remiss in not fully absorbing your many tips and nesletters. I am one and better allow more time to absorb the wisdom you pass out,
    God Bless and a Happy 9012!

  26. Great and informative information. I will be upgrading. Thanks for all you do to assist us just getting comfortable with digital camera, photo editing and Picasa.

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