Dec 142011

Last week, Google came out with a new version of Picasa – version 3.9.  There are some major differences between this version and its predecessor, version 3.8.  Here’s the official list:

  • Added ability to upload to Google+: share with circles, post pictures to your stream, and upload images at original size.
  • Social Tagging: name tag people in your Google+ circles and notify them via G+.
  • 24 New photo editing effects, including my top picks: Adding frames with Border, Polaroid, Vignette/Matte or Museum Matte, adding special effects like Pencil Sketch, Invert Colors, Posterize, Focal Zoom
  • Side by side editing: compare two pictures side-by-side, or compare different edits on the same picture.
  • Updated RAW support for pictures from newer cameras.
  • Support for WebP files.
  • On the Tools > Experimental menu, we’ve added support for migrating your database to another local drive.
  • Improvements to Face Movie maker: number of photos included, chronological ordering.
  • Sync now uploads unshared albums privately.
  • Improved restoring of virtual albums when you uninstall and reinstall, or move to a new computer. Album data is written to the picasa.ini file now, along with all of your other edits.
  • OAuth support: use 2-factor accounts without getting an application-specific password.

Where Are My Buttons?

The biggest difference you will see as soon as you upgrade to 3.9 is on the bottom line.  Your buttons are gone!  In 3.8 and earlier versions you saw this:

Old, comfortable, buttons in version 3.8 and less


New buttons in version 3.9 before logging in to Google Plus

New buttons in version 3.9 after logging in to Google Plus

So, Upload has changed to Share, we still have Email, Print, and Export.  But what happened to all the rest?  In case you’ve never used the other buttons, here are articles on Shop, BlogThis!, Collage, Movie, Geotag, and Facebook (includes installation instructions.)  You can get them all back on your bottom toolbar by clicking on the Tools menu, Configure buttons …, and Reset to Defaults.  When you click OK, your toolbar will look like the image below (Facebook button requires previous installation.)


Picasa 3.9 toolbar with all the buttons restored.

I’m not quite sure why Google removed all the buttons in the first place – maybe they have some future plans for that space?!  If you don’t want to put them all back, you can still access the features via the menus.

  • Shop = File | Order Prints…
  • BlogThis! = Create | Publish to Blogger…
  • Collage = Create | Picture Collage…
  • Movie = Create | Movie
  • Geo-Tag = Tools | Geotag on Google Earth
  • Facebook = not a Picasa feature, you need to install the button using these instructions

What Happened to Picasa Web Albums?

It’s still there.  If you have not joined Google Plus, then the ‘Share’ button takes you to Picasa Web Albums with no change.  However, if you *have* joined Google Plus then the Share button takes you to Google Plus photos.  It’s the same albums of your photos.  If you just joined Google Plus, you’ll see that all of your Picasa Web Albums are there.  Think of it like a fast food restaurant, you can go inside or use the drive-thru – it’s the same hamburgers either way.  With Picasa Web Albums and Google Plus photos, it’s the same pictures, just a different interface.  Even if you have joined Google Plus, you can still see your pictures with the same Picasa Web Albums interface by going to (if you’re logged in) or (if you’re not logged in.)

Google wants you to use Google Plus! They are hoping that Google Plus will compete with Facebook as your social network of choice.  They are enticing us to join by bribing us with new features if you use Google Plus Photos for your pictures.  Including:

  • Basic and fancy editing right with the picture all online. When viewing a single photo in Google Plus Photos, you have a new ‘Edit Photo’ button. It gives you immediate rotate and auto-fix options and then a really cool ‘Creative Kit’ which takes you to a Picnik-like web-based app where you can crop, fix lighting, add text, add clipart, and even give yourself a tan! The big difference with this online editing tool, and the Picnik tool that you get with Picasa or Web Albums is that all the options are free, there are no ‘premium’ features.
  • More storage space for your pictures.  Pictures of 2048 pixels and less are always free on Picasa Web Albums and Google Plus.  If you upload using Google Plus your pictures are automatically resized to be under that limit, in essence giving you unlimited picture storage.
  • Beautiful new collage-style display of album pictures.  In Google Plus Photos, when you open an album, you’re greeted with a collage of your photos, when you hover your mouse over any one it enlarges.
    G photo-album
  • More control over sharing.  Some people who view Google Plus Photos for the first time are distressed over their perception of how the pictures are shared – thinking that everyone on Google Plus can now see their photos.  Actually, you have much greater control with Google Plus Photos than you did with Picasa Web Albums.
    Picasa Web Albums gave you 4 choices for visibility of your pictures
    Google Plus Photos give you the same 4 choices and adds the ability to make the pictures visible to specified ‘Circles.’
    What gets some people upset is that, in Google Plus Photos, people who you share a photo with can also see who else you shared with.  See Google’s information on the difference between Picasa and Google Plus Photos on ‘Who can see the people I’ve shared with?

More …

One thing I was SO hoping to see in this new release was a re-design of the Collections sidebar – the left side where you see the lists of all folders, albums, people, etc.  I think this area is very confusing to people and needs a redesign badly.  Here’s my previous article on the topic: Picasa, I Love You, Now Change!

In next week’s Picasa tip, I’ll cover the cool new editing features and effects that have been added to Picasa 3.9.  I will also have some tutorial videos coming soon for Members of Geeks on Tour.

Discuss this!

Geeks on Tour members have been discussing Picasa 3.9 in our forum.  Check it out.

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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.