Trying out Google Picasa 2

November 17, 2007

For my photo organizational needs, I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop Elements 3. The latest iteration is version 6 of the software, but I’ve been too lazy to upgrade. However, lately, I’ve been getting some photo sharing invites from people who use Google’s Picasaweb albums.

So, I figured I’d take the plunge and give Google’s Picasa 2 a try.  After downloading the software, I set Picasa to view my current photos via the folder manager interface (Tools -> Folder Manager).  To my delight, I was able to view all of my recent photos organized by directory name.

To take it one step further, I tried a search using tags. Doh! Picasa only found photos that resided in a directory that was the same name as a tag! I am pretty standard about tagging all of my photos when I import them. For example, a photo may be tagged: me, wife, son, halloween, costume. This way I can search for photos using any one of those tags.

After doing a little bit of digging around, all was not lost. Adobe Photoshop Elements 3 has the ability to ‘Write Tag Info to Files’! Basically, this writes all of my tag information to the IPTC Keyword(s) field of the photo! What this means is the tagging information is saved in the actual photo itself. Super Cool!

It took maybe 10 minutes or so to write the tags to about 6,000 photos. Afterwards, I opened Picasa 2 and saw the program updating the files. Now all of my photos had tag information that I could use to do searching! To add/edit tag information within Picasa, you can select multiples photos and then hit ‘CTRL+K’ or View -> Keywords.

Next, I wanted to see how easy it was to upload photos to Picasaweb. Actually, doing so was very easy! Just select the photos and then click the ‘Web Album’ button. Man.. how simple is that!

Okay, now for the main test. I use Shutterfly to print my digital photos. In Adobe Photoshop Elements, I have to find the photos I want to print, export them to disk, log into Shutterfly, and use Shutterfly’s upload photos utility. Quite a chore if you ask me. In Picasa, I selected the desired photos, Click Order Prints, and to my surprise, Shutterfly was one of the options! In fact, I could have printed to PhotoStamp, Kodak EasyShare, Walgreens Photo, CVS Photo, Snapfish, Walmart, the list goes on!

I selected Shutterfly as my printing service choice, a prompt came up asking for my Shutterfly login information and upload album name. As soon as Picasa was done uploading the photos, my webrowser launched with my new album selected. Now I could select the quantities and recipients like normal.

So, I am quite a happy camper with Google Picasa 2. The software makes it so easy to:

  1. Organize photos with tags
  2. Upload photos to share online
  3. Print photos using Shutterfly

About the only thing I don’t get is an easy way to post photos to my wordpress.com blog! Picasa has a button to “BlogThis!”, but it’s tied to a Google Blogger account. However, just to mess around, I gave it a try. After logging into the Blogger system, I was prompted about photo alignment (left, right, center) and size. Then was taken straight to a What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) blog editor. It was very easy to add text around the photos and just do my thing. I hit Publish, and whammo, it was online. What a snap!

So, instead of upgrading to yet another version of Adobe Photoshop Elements and paying like $75, I am gonna stick with Google’s FREE Picasa 2. They really make it easy to get things done!

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6 Responses to “Trying out Google Picasa 2”

  1. Shang Lee Says:

    Can you explain more about this “tag info into the file” thing? I have been looking to tag my photos as the traditional folder structure doesn’t seem to work for photos. Don’t remember seeing tagging in Picasa 2 before as well…

  2. wujimon Says:

    Hi Shang.

    Basically, when you tag a photo, it embeds the tag into the header of the photo. This area that stores the tag info is also known as the IPTC Keyword(s) field of the photo. Other information is also stored in the header like camera, date/time, settings, etc.

    In google picasa 2, tagging is referred to as ‘keywords’. The keyboard shortcut is CTRL+K to bring up that interface to enter tags.

    For me, I just use a date of import folder structure and then apply my tags accordingly after import.

    Alternatively, you could use Microsoft Photo Info which enables editing the IPTC Keyword field of a photo.

  3. Shang Lee Says:

    Thanks for the explanation. That means even if i use a different photo manager next time, the information will still be there! I’ll definitely give it a go now. Thanks for the explanation!

  4. wujimon Says:

    Hey Shang.
    Like you, I was very happy to hear about the tagging information being saved to the photo instead of merely at the application. However, do note that sometimes this information is stripped out if you resize the photo and then upload it to a sharing service. I’m not exactly sure why yet, but when/if I do find out, I’ll be sure to blog about it 😉

  5. blinky Says:

    thanks for the blog. we love picasa. we had been using “albums” to organize our photos in picasa, but had a really bad experience. not only are albums proprietary to picasa, but they are also very unstable. if picasa can’t find the pictures in an album, it just DELETES the album. we had dozens of albums, but then we recently renamed our main folder “Photos 2007” instead of just “Photos” and suddenly the album path was no longer valid so picasa “cleaned up” and we lost every album. none of the pictures were lost of course, but our entire organization was lost. very sad. it seems tags are a better way to go.

  6. wujimon Says:

    Hey Blinky.
    I never really created an album in picasa. I just save all of my photos to date based folded and tag. Hopefully thing will be safe this way. thx for your input!


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