Apr 172012

by Chris Guld, www.GeeksOnTour.TV Aren’t digital cameras great?!  Just snap away to your heart’s content, no worries about wasting film, or costing more money, or taking up more space.  You can see right away if you captured the image you wanted, and take more shots if you didn’t.   I’ve been known to take over 100 pictures in any given day when we’re traveling thru beautiful countryside.  For RVers, like us, you can quickly rack up thousands of pictures! 


Now what?

If you put your pictures onto your computer, which we think you should, then you have lots of choices for what software to use for managing and editing them.  At Geeks on Tour, we’ve been evangelists for Picasa over 7 years now.  It’s a free program that you download to your computer from Google.  We teach several seminars on it, produced over 60 tutorial videos, have a website dedicated to Picasa, and wrote a book on it!    But, we know it’s not the only game in town.  Many people with Macintosh computers are very happy with iPhoto which comes preinstalled on their Macs – even though Picasa does have a fully compatible Macintosh version.  On Windows computers, the gold standard photo editing program is Adobe Photoshop ($700!) or Photoshop Elements ($99.)  There are also several free programs, including Microsoft’s offering – Windows Live Photo Gallery, and a full featured, Photoshop workalike called GIMP.

Why we Still Like Picasa the Best


As you can see from the crowd of over 700 people in one of our Picasa Seminars for FMCA, Picasa is very popular.  The free price certainly has something to do with that, but Picasa also gives you the greatest capability for the least effort.  When we started teaching Picasa about 7 years ago, it was drop-dead easy.  Over the years, Google has added more and more features.  Some areas have now become a bit complex, but it’s still pretty darned easy, especially compared to the full-featured image editors like Photoshop or GIMP.  Before Picasa, I used a program called Fireworks – generally in the same class as Photoshop.  It would take me 1 – 2 hours every time I went thru my process with the day’s 50 or so photos, when I switched to Picasa, the time shortened to about 15 minutes! 

IMG_1712-003The closest competitors to Picasa in ease of use are iPhoto and Photo Gallery.  They even have some features that are an improvement over Picasa.  iPhoto gives you multiple ways to view your pictures in location on a map, better slideshow features, and built in ways to make cards and books.  Photo Gallery has that cool photo fuse feature where you can replace one person in a group shot, it has a Panorama feature that Picasa lacks, and I like the way tags are handled better in Photo Gallery.  I actually considered switching to Photo Gallery but then realized that I simply could not live without Picasa’s features of Text on photos, or combining pictures in a Collage.  And Photo Gallery as well as iPhoto only have a fraction of Picasa’s photo editing features.  I have so much fun just trying all the different single-click effects, then undoing them if I don’t like it.

What about Flickr, or Snapfish, or SmugMug?

I talk to many people who say, ‘Oh, I don’t use Picasa, I use Snapfish.’  They don’t understand.  Picasa is software on your computer for working with pictures on your computer.  No Internet involved.  Flickr, Snapfish and SmugMug are photo sharing websites.  Google also offers a photo-sharing website called Picasa Web Albums, but Picasa and Picasa Web Albums each can stand on their own without the other.  So, “I don’t use Picasa Web Albums because I use Snapfish.” would make sense, but I would still ask them what they use to edit their pictures on their computer.  Maybe they use nothing – just copying the pictures from the camera to their computer, then uploading them directly to Snapfish.  Oh what they’re missing! 

Is Picasa going Away?

picnikGoogle is going thru a lot of transition these days, with their social network – Google + – leading the pack.  They made an announcement a few months back that Picnik is closing on April 19.  Picnik was an online photo editing website that Google bought last year.  They linked it to Picasa with a button along with Picasa’s main editing tools.  Now they’re taking it away, and that is starting a lot of rumors about the future of Picasa.  Many of the cool photo editing tools that were developed at Picnik are now incorporated directly into Picasa 3.9, and many more have become part of the online photo editing available thru Google Plus.  The Picasa desktop product is still very strong at Google.  Google is certainly not above killing product lines, but they do it with failures, not stars.

That said, Picasa may very well be renamed to Google Photos.  It’s certainly appropriate that a star product be recognized by the company’s brand – and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they used the April 19 date to make that happen.   If that happens, I sure hope they do something to distinguish between the online photo-sharing software and the desktop photo management software.  Over and over again, I ‘ve had to explain the difference between Picasa (desktop software) and Picasa Web Albums (online photo-sharing.)  It would be even worse to have Google Photos (desktop software) and Google Plus Photos (online photo-sharing) !!

The Best Software is the One you Know How to Use!

The bottom line with any computer software is knowing how to use it.  You’ll accomplish a lot more with a half-good program that you understand, than with the cream of the crop that you can’t figure out.  I’ll keep using – and teaching – Picasa because I understand it inside and out.  Whenever they come out with new features, like the side-by-side editing introduced in version 3.9, you can count on new videos like the one -below from GeeksOnTour.  Sign up for our free Picasa Tip-of-the-Week if you want to stay on top of all things Picasa!

Geeks On Tour is Jim and Chris Guld. They have been traveling the US in their RV since 2003. They teach fellow travelers how to use computers and technology to plan, preserve, and share their travels. They have both been involved in professional computer support and training since the early 80s. They maintain a family of websites including www.picasageeks.com containing hundreds of articles, and www.geeksontour.tv where members can watch tutorial videos on all their topics.

Follow Geeks on Tour on Facebook

Geeks On Tour

  14 Responses to “Is Picasa the Only Software for Managing all your Travel Pictures?”

  1. I just discovered it and thank you. I am SO tired of the Google forums. They are arrogant and not helpful. Recent example: I posted a question about Picasa Photo Viewer and the fact it keeps opening after EVERY SINGLE PIC I SAVE. Not helpful.

    I asked how to go back to using it when I want to not when Picasa wants to and got a really snotty answer which wasn’t really an answer.

    So, I ask again.
    How do I get Picasa Photo Viewer to stop. I follow the directions on configuring it and they reappear with out fail as fast as I can click I don’t want to use PPV




  2. I have many photos in picasa. Many are in folders and yet others seem to load individually. How can I get 100 photos condensed in a folder and view them when I open the folder. It is that very procedure I seek. All else is wonderful and I am a user of Picasa since 2010 and learned from your tutorial book and CD.
    michael ………

  3. […] Is Picasa the Only Software for Managing all your Travel Pictures? […]

  4. I love using Picasa but Google+ is a bit confusing to me. What happened to the Picasa web albums ? Is there any way that I could use the Picasa web albums when I upload photos from Picasa instead force me to the Google+? I really don’t like the Collage of photos which Google+ automatically arranges. Your help is much appreciated.

    • I feel your pain. I have found this change to Google+ frustrating. I can give you a work around but do not know how long it will last.
      1. Create your album and share it with yourself on Google+
      2. When it has loaded go to picasaweb.google.com/home (this will take you to your old familiar page, you can use this address also after com/input the address of someone who has shared an album with you and you can see their album
      3. When you have the old web album up hit Share with Google+ and the bottom of that window you will find (in small type) share via email only. This will send out the traditional album that we knew and loved.
      I owe this workaround to my sister who too feels the pain.

      • Hi Ms. C Tracy,

        Thank you so much for helping me out. I will follow your instructions to get back to all my old albums. I just don’t have time fooling around with Google+ after so getting used to the Picasa Web Albums. Just hate it when a new and improved version popping up which forces u to comply what it thinks is best for you. Once again, thanks for help.

        • I discovered another work around. Once you have put your album that you want shared together go to the top of the Picasa page and sign in with a gmail account that does not have Google +. Gmail accounts are free and you can have as many as you want. My dog, Angel, has her own account and it does not have Google +. You still have your Picasa pictures, you are just signed into Web Albums with another address. You need to leave the site and come back and you will see the look has changed, Instead of Share with Google+ it just says share. Send to those you wish and I suggest yourself at your usual address. With this version you can change the size of the photos and the visibility — I choose share with those who have the link. Then start the sharing. It takes a while to load. Now once done you can view these at:
          picasaweb.google.com/home. To see other albums shared with you, after com/put in the email address of anyone who shared pictures with you. On i Devices you can load an ap called Web Albums…you will see them all.

  5. Thanks for the great side-by-side editing video. What a wonderful tool!

  6. The side by side feature is invaluable!

  7. I’m very much a novice and would like to organise my picasa collection as i have 5-6000 which i love looking at . My trouble is i can’t find a particular one when i want although i have files or folders (idon’t know the difference) for different things , totaling about 48 . I also don’t know all the abbreviations you use as i’m a bit slow and getting on in years (74) ,so what ever you tell me please keep it in Lay-mans terms and as simple as you can. i’d also like to know what the best books + vids you recommend for me to buy. I’d like to say i’ve just watched your vid and could understand every bit . THANK YOU FOR A WELL DONE JOB AND I’VE BEEN A REGULAR READER FOR ABOUT 2-3 YEARS. But never written before
    My Best and Kindest Regards Mick Hester

  8. I have enjoyed Picasa for several years now. I also have tried some others, but the simplicity of Picasa keeps me coming back. If one has to spend more time editing than taking the photo, that is not for me! Oh, & I love the changes in 3.9. Thanks for all your expertise.

  9. I love your newsletter. I love Picassa software. Isn’t it amazing how hard it is to convince someone to try it and then when they do they are sooooooooo amazed!!
    Thanks Again!

  10. I am a long time Mac user who stumbled upon Picasa with my PC friends. I liked it for all of the reasons that you have cited. When it became available for Mac I was thrilled and for the most part use Picasa but bring some finished products to iPhoto. For some reason Mac has made iPhoto more difficult to use over the years. However, now they have developed iPhoto for the iOS devices. Now this is really good, not perfect but really good and FUN. It is rumored that this will be the shape of iPhoto when the new operating system, Mountain Lion, is released. In the Mac community this ap replaced the Mobile Me Gallery but it is free. It is the closest to Picasa Web Albums that I have found. I like change but this has my head spinning. I guess it keeps us senior citizens young.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.