Oct 252013

imageAlbums and Tags are both organizational tools in Picasa on your computer.  They allow you to group your photos by categories of your choosing without physically moving or copying  pictures from the Folders where they are stored.  In our fulltime RVing lifestyle, we are taking pictures all the time, so our folder structure is simple – one folder per month.  All pictures taken in a month are stored in a folder for that month.  Sometimes a special event warrants a folder of its own, but all ‘miscellaneous’ pictures go into the monthly folder.  Albums and Tags allow you to create groupings like music ‘Playlists.’  You can include pictures in different groups without copying or moving them to another folder.


State Signs Example

As we travel, I like to take pictures of the sign we see each time we cross a state border.  According to my system, these pictures will be stored in a Folder by the month they were taken.  I then want an Album of all the state signs so I can make a movie like the example below.  To make this movie, I added a few other pictures in addition to the state signs, I found the music “See the USA” by Dinah Shore, and I put it all together in a Movie using Picasa’s “Create Movie Presentation” tool.  Finally I uploaded it to Youtube so you can see.  It all just took a few clicks in Picasa.

Tags are Better than Albums

The best way to prepare for these different groupings is to use Tags.  Whenever I take a picture of a State Sign, I tag it with the keyword ‘statesign.’  Tags are better than albums, because they are stored right with the .jpg file.  If you stop using Picasa at some point, the tags will still be included with your pictures and some other software (like Windows Live Photo Gallery, or Photoshop Elements) can read those tags.  Albums are strictly a creation of Picasa and are only useable with PIcasa.  To gather all the pictures for the Movie above, all I had to do was click on Tools->Experimental->Show Tag as Album

You may need to refresh the album list before you see the new ‘statesign’ album.  Just collapse the Album collection with the triangle and then expand it again.  You should notice that it has a green album icon with an asterisk, that is the indicator that this is a dynamic album create from Tags.  Once I can see the Album, I just click on the button for Create Movie, enter the music selection, then click the Youtube button. 


Albums are Temporary

Once you have your movie, you can even delete the Album – it was just a temporary grouping to facilitate making the movie.  Delete the album and your pictures are still in their respective folders, along with their tags.  At any time, you can use the “Show Tag as Album” command and see the statesign group again.

Learn More from Tutorial Videos

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  7 Responses to “Should you Use Picasa’s Albums or Tags to Organize your Photos?”

  1. Can Picasa tags be viewed or searched outside of the Picasa program? I have invested a lot of time tagging and want to make sure my work is saved.

    • Yes, adding tags using Picasa puts tags into the standard field for Tags. View a picture with Windows Explorer, or other programs, and you’ll see Tag in the properties. Anything you added with Picasa will show there.

  2. I have been using Picasa for years and love it’s functionality. I use it for both organizing my photos and my digital scrapbook supplies. I have not been consistent with tags and my tagging is a bit of a mess. Is there a way to start from scratch?

    • Picasa is not the best at helping us be consistent with tags. There is no place just to see a list of all the tags you have used, but there is a little trick. If you enter .jpg in the Search box, you will be seeing ALL of your .jpg pictures in one group. Now you can click the Tag icon and open up the right-side pane. You will be seeing all the tags applied to your pictures. If you want to remove them and start clean, just click the X next to each tag. I think maybe writing down a list of the tags you want to use might be a good idea first.

  3. Can tags in Picasa be read or found in other editing apps like Adobe PSE or VisiPics etc.?
    I like your logic on tags versus albums – Thank You

  4. I too have been challenged explaining the difference between Folders and Albums in Picasa to my students. I explain it this way; A folder is your master file storage, an Album is a collection of links to that Folder. (The Album displays the photos by linking back to the Folder) Photos in an Album cannot be delete, they can only be “removed”. Therefore, an Album cannot really be “Deleted”, but if all the photos have been “removed” then the “Album” deletes itself.

  5. Good advice, cute video. I don’t use Picasa as much as I used to (although I think it is great) as have found I enjoy using Lightroom for organization and simple edits better. I use Photoshop Elements and Photoshop and OnOne Software products in conjunction with those if I want to do more serious editing and tweaking. The main reason I use Lightroom is that it is a non-destructive editor; it never alters the original and is a great organizer … I shoot RAW, but export to jpg when posting, etc. The main principle though in file structure, tags, albums … or whatever else one might call an identifier is to NOT make duplicate files, but to “tag” them in a manner that they can be easily found and grouped. I stress that a single photo (file) can reside in many albums (an album is really just a virtual collection), have many tags … but can only be in ONE folder at a time. I find that many folks have a hard time grasping the concept that there are really no files in an album and cannot grasp the fact that deleting an album does not delete a file nor does putting a file into multiple albums create more files. It is a struggle to teach this concept. I was on a shoot with a great instructor last year and she was trying to explain this to a couple of people with no luck. When we got back to her van she pulled them aside and gave a great demo which I loved. She pulled out an old road map of Wyoming and burned it to ashes and said, “Go to Wyoming and see if it’s still there.” Aha! I’ve used that demo a few times since and it always elicits the “Aha!”

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