Picasa Revisited, Version 3.8

by JL Beeken on 4-09-2011

PicasaI installed Picasa on my laptop to have another look. Sam was interested in having it on her new computer. I wrote her an email about some of the reasons I hate Picasa and why she shouldn’t use it. It was quickly turning into an encyclopedia and I knew her brain would fuzz over if she had to read the whole thing.

I thought I should look at it again and see if anything had improved since I last ran it over with a truck. And maybe I could come up with a way of saying, “Sure, go ahead, it’ll be fine.”

I didn’t and Sam has gone over to XnView.

Picasa seems to be a favorite with the genealogy crowd and I don’t know why because there is so much better software around.

First of all, I hate the Import options because I have only two choices – Either my entire hard-drive or My Documents, My Pictures and Desktop.

I don’t dare have it import my TIFFs because the last time it did that it seriously messed around with the IPTC and it took days to repair the damage. If I was using Picasa for JPGs only (which is all it’s good for and not even very good at that) I would move my 30GB of TIFFs to some obscure corner of my hard-drive before opening it so it couldn’t do any damage to them.

My laptop has been stripped down for use as a PDF and video viewer so there was nothing for it to damage. I put a few photos on a flash-drive for it to import. Then I took them back and tested them on my main computer. Editing a TIFF completely stripped out the IPTC and re-saved it as a JPG. That was only a cursory test and god knows what other perversions of photo decency are lurking yet unseen.

Picasa, Image Properties

‘Properties’ has been moved to the sidebar along with tags and maps. Picasa reads GPS on TIFFs but not the IPTC metadata except for the caption and copyright if you’ve added them with other software. Key phrase here: other software. If the photo has a caption, it’s listed under a field called ‘Camera ID’. You might want to write that down because it’s not exactly intuitive. It does not show the caption underneath the photo so you might think it’s not there at all.

The Picasa Photo Viewer doesn’t show captions at all on TIFFs or JPGs.

You can add tags to TIFFs but they won’t carry through to other keyword-reading software. It’s a Picasa delusion. And it can’t read keywords put there by other software.

What it does do is try to impress you with how techie it can be by giving you a ream of other useless data like Bits Per Sample and Strip Offsets.

If you’re absolutely determined, Picasa is good for adding tags (keywords) and captions to JPGs. It’s not mature enough to have fields for adding sources, copyrights, addresses, etc. You can search an address to add a pin and GPS co-ordinates to a map but you can’t add the address. Or the copyright or the source or the contact email or anything else a family historian would be interested in adding to their photos.

Face-tagging is proprietary so you have to back that up using their option of burning photos to an ongoing series of discs. With a little creativity, you can burn the discs and then copy the content of the discs to an external HD for an extra backup. Or you can upload them to Picasa Web Albums; the first 1GB free and then you can pay for anything beyond that. You might want to wipe the GPS out of your photos before you upload them otherwise everyone will know who you are and where you are and that’s not always a good idea.

This is still a useless g-d piece of photo software and I still hate it.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

GrannyPam 4-09-2011 at 4:15 PM

I agree with you 150%. There are far better options.

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Robert Fleck 4-09-2011 at 4:19 PM

I like Picasa as an interface and upload vehicle for Google’s free online storage and viewing area. I restrict Picasa to uploading from only one directory/folder into which I add and delete picture files.

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