Google made it official with an announcement on February 12, 2016: Moving on from Picasa. They are retiring Picasa and devoting all their efforts to one photo product: Google Photos. This affects both the desktop software, Picasa3, and the web service, Picasa Web Albums. If you use either the desktop software, or the website, this announcement affects you.
How the announcement affects you – short answer:
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- Picasa Web Albums: you’ll need to switch to Google Photos instead of Picasa Web Albums, no transfer of pictures necessary.
For the long answer, keep reading.
We hosted a Live Panel Discussion on the Picasa Announcement on our weekly web show, What Does This Button Do?
- Live webcast with discussion of the Picasa announcement
- Sunday February 21, 2016
- Watch the YouTube recording at this link.
Picasa3 – the Desktop Software
Keep using it! Long Live Picasa! Although this product will not receive further updates, either bug fixes or enhancements, it is software that you download to your computer’s hard drive. If you have it, you can keep using it. Nothing will change. It will not self destruct. Your pictures will still be right where you put them, on your hard drive.
If you get a new computer, you will need the Picasa software setup file. Picasa3 is software that used to be freely downloaded from the web page Picasa.Google.com. That was removed on March 15. After that, you can download the Picasa installation files from Filehippo.com, or, here is our Picasa Download for Geeks on Tour Members. Further information is available on the Picasa Resources page maintained by the Google Picasa Forum Top Contributors.
Google Photos replacing Picasa3? No – Google Photos will not, nay, CAN NOT replace Picasa3 Desktop software. Google Photos is not an option for working with pictures on your hard drive. The pictures must be uploaded to the Web (Photos.Google.com) before you can do anything with them using Google Photos. If you have a good Internet connection, you may find that you enjoy working with them on the web and you can stop keeping copies on your computer (except for archival purposes.) When that day comes for you, Google Photos can replace Picasa, but not before.
Using Outdated software? Most of us have outdated software that we still use. I use Photo Story 3 even though it is a software product that has not been officially supported since Windows XP! It still does what I want it to do, so why not? I would not continue to use the operating system of Windows XP because that is a security and computer performance issue, nor do I advise using the outdated navigation system of Streets and Trips because updates are important when roads change. PIcasa3 is software that is meant to do a job with pictures on your computer hard drive. It will continue to do that job even after it is “retired”, so you can continue to use it.
Parts of Picasa will be affected. There are parts of the program that interact with the web:
- Upload to Google Photos
- Synchronize with Web Albums
- Upload videos to YouTube
As long as these features are working for you, you can use them. I expect that they will develop problems over time because the Web side of the equation will change, and Google will not fix those problems on this retired software. You will need to perform those tasks with other methods. For example, to upload to Google Photos you would use Google Photos; to Email pictures you would use your email program. I have also been hearing of some problems with importing pictures using Picasa’s tools. I recommend importing with standard Windows or Mac tools.
Save Your Edits! Using those alternate ways of sending pictures to the web means that you will be interacting with your pictures outside of Picasa, you will be uploading the picture as it is found on your hard drive rather than the one you see in Picasa that shows your edits. See this article if you don’t understand what I mean: Original vs Edited Photo in Picasa
You now need to get accustomed to saving your edits so the picture found on the hard drive is the same one you’re seeing with Picasa. For an individual picture you use File->Save. For a folder of pictures, you can save them all at once by clicking on the disk icon:
Picasa Web Albums
After May 1, 2016 you will need to switch to using Google Photos. Picasa Web Albums is going away. After May 1 you will not be able to create a new Picasa Web Album (update: it is now June 1 and PWA is still here – but it is still expected to go away sometime.) All of your existing Web Albums will be (are now) accessible via Google Photos. All links to your photos in places like Blogs will still work. They will also be accessible at a new “Archive” site that Google is creating. This is necessary because Picasa Web Albums included some data that Google Photos does not – such as comments. In order to see comments that were left on your photos using Picasa Web Albums, you will need to visit the new Archive site. There are quite a few features that the Google Photos website lacks in comparison to Picasa Web Albums:
- Sorting Album lists by Date or Album Title(Google Photos is only by date, descending in the library, ascending in Albums)
- Sorting Photos within Album: by Date-Oldest First or Newest First, or By Filename (Google Photos is only by Date-Oldest First) Update 6/1: you can now Edit Album and drag photos into new order
- Show all photos from an Album in place on a map
- Order Prints
- Viewing Captions with the photos
- Playing Slideshow (only available on Android version) Update 6/17/16 slideshow now available on Web version.
- Setting Album Visibility: 1:Public, 2:Limited: Anyone with Link, 3:Limited: Listed People, 4:Just You (Google Photos is 1:Just You or 2:Anyone with Link)
- Display all public albums with one URL web address – there is no “Public” designation anymore, therefore no way to view all Public albums.
- Keep track of updates on Google+
I Wish …
I wish that Google had decided to keep Picasa3 Desktop software in a maintenance mode. They haven’t updated it in any significant way for the past 4 years, why not keep it going for another 1 or 2 years? In that time Google Photos would become more mature, and people would be more accustomed to working with their pictures on the web rather than on their computer.
I wish that Google had decided to maintain the Picasa Web Albums website for another year while they added some of the missing features to the Google Photos interface. Google Photos is still so new. People need more time to accept change, and they will be more willing when Google Photos has more features.
Guess what? Google didn’t ask me before they did this! And, I’m sure that there are a lot more factors that Google has to consider. The underlying technology is changing all the time, and Google stays on top of that. In fact, Google is often inventing the new technology, and they can’t move as fast as they need to when they are shackled by maintaining legacy connections. Google also has plenty of business considerations. They recently reorganized the whole company under the Alphabet name. I’m sure that has a lot of repercussions.
If you also wish that they would not retire Picasa now, you can add your voice by visiting Photos.Google.com, clicking on the 3-bar menu and then Send Feedback. Who knows, enough voices can make a difference! At least add a vote for your important features to be added to Google Photos. Mine are 1: captions that stay with pictures when downloaded, 2:watermarks on shared photos 3:Display all public albums with one URL web address.
I’m Going with Google
I intend to embrace Google Photos completely. I love how it effortlessly it collects ALL the photos of my life, and gives me fun ways to display and share them. I trust Google with my pictures. I have nearly 50,000 pictures stored online in my Google Account and there is no charge for that (I’m fine with the less-than-original file size required.) Google Photos offers unlimited storage for free. I started uploading my pictures to Google around 2005 with Picasa Web Albums, and, as far as I can tell, they are all still there. But, for local backup, I have also used the Google Takeout service to download a copy of all my Google Photos to an external hard drive for safe keeping.
I will also continue to use Picasa3 on my computer as long as I have pictures on my hard drive. The more I use Google Photos however, the less I am keeping photos on my hard drive. I am downloading just specific ones, when there is something I want that only Picasa3 can do, like add Watermarks, other text on pictures, real captions, or fancy collages.
This website, PicasaGeeks.com, will continue to teach Picasa. There are currently over 250 articles, mostly on features of the Picasa3 desktop software. Those will remain, and I will still write more in response to your questions. But, I will also be writing about Google Photos. I’ve started a brand new site to focus on Google Photos: LearnGooglePhotos.com
Desktop: If for some reason, you don’t want to continue using Picasa3 Desktop software, here are some suggested alternatives:
- Windows Photo Gallery: This is probably the software that most closely resembles Picasa3 desktop software. It is free from Microsoft. It works with the photos on your computer’s hard drive. It can upload photos and share them on OneDrive, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube. Downside: this software hasn’t been upgraded since 2012 – it could also get ‘retired.’ It has some great photo features like Photo Fuse, but it is missing two important ones: Text on photos, Collages.
- Adobe Photoshop Elements 14: This is not a free program. The cost is $99, currently on sale for $69. The latest version is 14. This is desktop software. It can share with Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and Twitter. Expect a relatively steep learning curve, but you will be rewarded with powerful features.
- Windows 10 Photos: This is the photo management program that comes with Windows 10. It has basic editing, and it shares online automatically using Microsoft OneDrive. It can also share with Facebook and Twitter. 15 GB of free storage, 50GB for $1.99/mo or 1TB free with Office 365.
- Apple Photos: Desktop software for Macs and App for iPhone/iPad. Shares with iCloud Photo Library. 5GB of free storage space, then plans up to 1TB.
Web: If Google Photos does not offer the features you need for Web Storage and Photo Sharing, here are some alternatives:
- Dropbox.com: Not a photo program, it is Cloud storage that could take the place of Picasa Web Albums. It can combine nicely with Picasa3 on the Desktop to provide web storage and sharing of photos with a smooth integration with the desktop. Just point Picasa’s File Manager to your Dropbox folder on your hard drive and you have synchronization! 2GB of free storage space, then $9.99/mo for 1TB.
- Flickr.com: Owned by Yahoo. The granddaddy of Photo Sharing websites. No desktop software, but powerful web storage and sharing. 1TB of free storage space.
- Amazon Prime Photos: Using Amazon Cloud Drive, Prime members get unlimited photos storage for free.
- Facebook Photos: We use Facebook so much, we forget that it is storing our photos!
- Microsoft OneDrive: As mentioned above the Windows Photos app uses OneDrive for storing photos online. You can use it directly without the Photos app as well. The online interface has nice photo management features like tags, albums, and slideshows, but no editing.
- Apple’s iCloud Photo Library will store your photos, but only for Apple devices.
For more information, please watch our video above with the panel of experts.
Also, the Top Contributors for the Picasa User Forum have put together a very detailed page of information about the Picasa Retirement and what it means to you.
What questions do you have? Please leave a comment below.