Nov 182013

facenamesThis article is for those of you who like Picasa’s face recognition feature and have People Albums named for the people who appear in your pictures.  You probably spent a fair amount of time identifying all those faces and you don’t want to lose them!  Yet, if you needed to uninstall and re-install Picasa for any reason, your perfectly named People Albums may end up all called <Unknown Person>.

To prevent this from ever happening to you again, you need to be sure the “Store name tags in photo” box is checked.  Here’s where you’ll find that box:

  • Windows: Tools->Options->Name Tags
  • Mac: Picasa->Preferences->Name Tags

If yours is already checked, you’re golden.  If not, realize that checking the box now only affects people that you identify from now on. 

Fixing Existing People

To ‘store name tags in photos’ that you’ve already identified, you can use the Tools->Experimental->Write faces to XMP command.  There are 3 choices: Write Selected, Write Faces, Write All.  If you just have a few People Albums then we recommend you select one album at a time and then use the “Write Selected” option.  If you choose “Write Faces” this will go thru all of your named faces and it will take a while – an hour or more.  Remember when Picasa first scanned all your photos for faces?  I don’t know what “Write All” does.

If you don’t have the option under Tools->Experimental for “Write faces to XMP” that means you’re not using the latest version of Picasa.  You can check the version with Help->About Picasa – as of today (11/25/13) it should be 3.9.0 (Build 136.2).  On a Mac, use Picasa->About Picasa to see the version and it should be 3.9.16.  Go to to download and install it fresh.

Fixing <Unknown Person> Albums

If you have albums with the <Unknown Person> title, it’s not as bad as you may think.  You don’t have to re-identify all the individual pictures.  The Unnamed albums are actually the people albums that you worked so hard to make, they’ve just lost the actual name.  You can rename a People album just like any other Album or Folder:

  1. It’s best to be logged in to your Google Account, then you’ll have access to your synchronized contact list.  If you look in the upper right corner of Picasa and see your email address, you’re logged in.  Otherwise you should see a link to  “Sign In with Google Account”
  2. Double-Click on the album (right where it says ‘Unnamed Person”) or right-click on it and choose Edit Album.
  3. You should now see your list of contacts.  Select the contact name for this person and click “Choose”.  You can just start typing the name and your list will be filtered accordingly.

For Geeks on Tour members, here are some tutorial videos about People albums:

Here is Picasa’s official help page on Name Tags.

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, orbecome a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

Aug 132013

facesWith Face Recognition in Picasa, you can work thru identifying all the “Unnamed” people in the People Albums collection or you can go thru one folder at a time and identify just those pictures you want at the time.  This article shows you how to go to the folder and manually identify the faces in any given picture.

So, for example, when I look at the people album for my Dad, Tom, I see that there are only 18 named faces.  I know I have more pictures than that!  If only because I found some old photos once and scanned them all.  I know the folder that contains those scanned pictures of my Dad, now what?

The People Panel


Notice the 4 buttons just below the library on the right side of your screen, those open up a right sidebar or ‘pane.’  You can choose to see information about People, Places, Tags, or Properties.  What you do is open the people pane.  The space on the right side of your screen will now show you any faces that are tagged in the selected picture(s.)  If they aren’t tagged correctly, or not tagged at all, you can fix them here.

There are several possibilities here, the most common are:

  1. The person’s face is marked as a face but with no identification. 
    add name
  2. Sometimes it won’t be marked as a face at all.  In that case you need to click the button at the bottom, “Add a Person Manually” then draw a rectangle around the face, and Add a Name.
  3. Yet another option is when Picasa has marked a face, and is suggesting a name, but it hasn’t yet been confirmed.  If the suggested name is the correct person, simply click the green checkmark to confirm.  If it is an incorrect name, click the red X, then enter the correct name.  This should take you back to the first situation where the face is marked but unnamed, so enter the correct name.

People Albums

As you find more instances of a person’s face and correctly identify them, you will see those pictures show up in the person’s ‘People Album.’  I found quite a few more pictures of my Dad, so when I look at the People Album section now,  I see:
It is important to realize that these are albums, just like the ‘blue’ albums in the top section of the left sidebar.  If you delete a face from a People Album, you are not deleting the photo, you are just taking it out of the named person’s People Album and dumping it back in the Unnamed album.  You can also simply drag a face from one album to another if you find an incorrectly tagged face.

Brought to you by Geeks on Tour!

There’s a lot more to know about the face recognition feature in Picasa.  We encourage you to read the other articles in this website that refer to face recognition and, if you are a member of the GeeksOnTour.TV website, you should watch the video in the Picasa Special Features series on Face Recognition.

Feb 082013

It wasn’t so long ago that making a movie like the one below would takes hours, days, maybe even weeks to put together.  It would also take some very expensive and specialized equipment.  Now, with Picasa’s face recognition feature, it’s just a single click on a button called Face Movie!

Just select the pictures, click the Face Movie button, add music, and voila! Here’s a movie of my Mom’s beautiful smile thru the years!

Select Pictures from a People Album

You need to have Face Detection turned on and some faces identified in People Albums in order to use this feature.  If, at some time in the past you decided you didn’t want Face detection, you can turn it back on with Tools –> Options –> Name Tags –> Enable Face Detection.

Assuming you do have a few People Albums, take a look at the buttons next to the thumbnail of that person, you will see 4 buttons. 

  1. imagePlay – to play a slideshow of all the pictures of that person,
  2. imageCollage – to make a photo collage using all the pictures of that person
  3. imageMovie – to create a regular movie of the pictures of this person
  4. imageFace Movie – to create a special movie where the person’s face appears in the same spot when transitioning from one picture to the next


So, just click that button and you will be taken to the Movie Making page, with all the pictures of that person selected (or whatever pictures you pre-selected.)  Here is where you will see a few options also.  All the pictures have been placed on a timeline.  First you’ll want to click the green play arrow and take a look at the movie, then you might try playing with a few of the settings. 


Add Music

You’ll definitely want to find a piece of music and ‘Load…’ it into the Audio Track.  Notice the audio options to truncate the music, Fit Photos into Audio, or Loop Photos to Match Audio.  They each have their place.  If you have an audio clip that is the right length for your number of pictures, then Fit Photos into Audio is great, your pictures will end exactly when the music ends.

If you intend to upload your movie to Youtube, you’ll need to be careful to choose a copyright free track.  I found mine at

Arrange Pictures

You can drag pictures around on the timeline, you can even remove them by clicking the X at the left.  You can also create title slides by clicking the icon above the red X.

The Finished Movie

When your movie looks good, finish it by clicking the Create Movie button.  This will produce a .wmv file completely independent of the original pictures.  You can copy that .wmv file to any computer device, or you can burn it to a DVD movie using something like DVD Maker.  You can even upload it to Youtube, with the handy button provided.

Geeks on Tour Members should watch the following videos for more info:

  1. People Albums: Viewing Faces or Entire Picture
  2. Naming Faces
  3. Make a Movie
Jan 042011

Note: a more recent article on this topic can be found at Keep your People Named by Checking this Box.

Q: If I re-install Picasa and delete the old database, what happens to all the face tagging? I have spent a lot of time getting my ~10,000 pictures or so all tagged with named faces. It appears to be rescanning. How can I get back my name tags?

Quite some time ago, I wrote an article called, “Picasa Tip: When your pictures get “All Messed UP”.  In it I wrote about the scary things that you see in Picasa when its database gets corrupted.  This used to happen quite regularly. It doesn’t happen so much anymore, but there are still times you need to re-install Picasa and rebuild its database.  And now, with face recognition there are more issues.

In the article I detailed 2 procedures for fixing the corruption.  1. Delete the Picasa2 folder or 2. Open Picasa while holding down Alt/Ctrl/Shift.  The Alt/Ctrl/Shift method has been removed – I’m not sure when.  The delete the folder technique still works, but it is not the officially recognized method for dealing with the problem.  The Official method is to uninstall Picasa and reinstall it.  It is important to realize that, when you uninstall Picasa, you have the choice of deleting the database.  If you say Yes – which you need to do if you have a corrupt database – you will be deleting an important part of the face recognition information.

Prevent Losing Name Tags by Synchronizing

If you use Google’s Contacts (e.g. for Gmail) and you have set the option in Picasa to ‘Sync with Contacts’, then you’re all set.  Picasa will be able to recreate your nametags.  This setting is located on the Tools Menu, People Manager. Read more about Sync’ing Name tags and Google Account contacts.  If you didn’t have that set, then you’ll need a backup of a Picasa file called contacts.xml.  Read on to understand why.

Saving Faces

The face recognition part of Picasa is a bit complex.  The information that says, ‘this picture includes a face’ is stored in the hidden picasa.ini file that is located in the same folder as the picture. Deleting the database will not touch this information – it’s in the picture folders. But, the information that says, ‘that face is Harry Jones’ is stored in a file called contacts.xml which is located in the user configuration/database folders for Picasa (e.g. )

The identity of the faces in your pictures is stored in the Contacts folder within the Picasa2 folder.  It’s a file called contacts.xml.  These folders are hidden – you need to turn on the ability to see hidden folders in order to see them.  From Windows Explorer: Tools, Folder Options, View, Advanced Settings, Show Hidden Files, Folders or Drives.

So – if you uninstall Picasa, and choose to ‘delete the database’, you will be deleting the entire Picasa2 folder, including the contacts.  When you re-install it, that PIcasa2 folder and database configuration gets rebuilt.  Picasa uses the information in the picasa.ini files in each folder in order to rebuild the database.  EXCEPT the identification of the people.  If you made a copy of your contacts.xml file before uninstalling – you can get that back by simply copying your backup and pasting it into the Picasa2 folder.

Saving Albums

When you create albums in Picasa, you are just building a list of pointers to the pictures you want to show in the album.  That list of pointers is kept in a set of configuration files located at:

The Picasa2Albums folder does not get deleted when you choose to delete the database upon Uninstalling Picasa.  So, when you reinstall, your albums should come right back.  I still make a backup copy of the Picasa2Albums folder just in case.

Step-by-Step Uninstall Picasa and Save Faces

To make sure this works as I say, I used my Netbook computer that has a few thousand pictures, 54 ‘Blue icon’ Albums, and 48 identified face albums.  It is not sync’ed to any Google account Contacts – all people were manually created in Picasa.  Here’s what I did:

  1. Backed up the contacts.xml file, Backed up the Picasa2Albums folder.
  2. Uninstalled Picasa.  I clicked on Start, All Programs and found the Picasa folder, there is an option there for ‘Uninstall Picasa.’  Be sure to say Yes to deleting the database as part of the uninstall.  Remember – the reason you’re probably doing this is that the database is corrupted!
  3. Re-installed Picasa.  Go to and click the button to Download Picasa.  Then choose Run to install it.
  4. Opened Picasa and let it re-scan.  Choose, Scan My Pictures, My Documents, This can take a while – sometimes hours.
  5. Restored the Contacts.xml file.  This is the key to getting your faces back.  After step 4, I saw all 48 of my face albums listed, but each face was labeled <Unknown Person>  I copied the Contacts folder that I backed up in step 1, and pasted it into the Picasa2 folder.  Nothing happened immediately, but when I looked again after about 15 minutes People’s names were starting to show up.  I left it alone all night and when I looked in the morning, all my faces had names.
  6. Note: my albums all came back in step 4.  I didn’t have to do anything.  The Picasa2Albums folder was still in the location where it had always been.

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.

People Albums: Viewing Faces or Entire Picture

Naming faces

Using Tags aka Keywords