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Review: Picasa Free photo editing software from Google

January 28, 2010

Google has released some great web applications these past few years, GMail being their most popular app and now my email client of choice. Desktop mail clients like Outlook and Thunderbird now face towering competition as most users simply flock to the web to check their messages, skipping the whole hassle of loading up a program.

Photo management isn’t quite in the cloud yet. There is no doubt that it heading in that direction as evidenced by Picasa’s web extension- Picasa Web Albums. The extension allows a user to sync albums in his Picasa collection to the web for easy sharing and hosting. Google however, has actually coded a desktop application that manages photos and videos while offering basic photo editing features that is very useful to the casual photographer.

Picasa 3, the latest version is snappy and opens instantly if a camera is connected via usb. Once opened, you are presented various ways of easily categorizing your photos by batch renaming, tagging or adding stars. The folder system is easy to manage and navigate.

Sharing your photos are easily built in featuring buttons for email, upload (to picasa web albums) and users can install 3rd party plugins to allow integration with other services such as directly uploading to facebook, or tweeting your photos.

There are fun extras too like creating a collage which allows you mix and match various photos into a pretty display, creating slideshows, photo movies or even posters. Picasa also allows a user to blog pictures directly to Google’s blog service, blogger.

An important feature is the ability to edit photos. The editor here is very basic compared to Paint.net, but is useful enough for the point and shoot consumer. Editing features include crop, straigten, constrast, highlight, shadows, and color effects (black and white, sepia, tones etc). Once you save your edits, picasa makes a separate backup of your original file in a hidden part of your photo’s folder; a useful feature if you wish to revert changes.

Picasa 3 features tagging. That is, the faces of humans in your photos are automatically tagged (for the most part) and as long as you name them initially, the software automates the whole process for you over time. I rarely use this feature, but it does work, all photos of me  have been identified as Seon!

Picasa Web Albums is the icing on the cake. You can sync your photos (up to 1gb on a free account) to the web and share them with the public or use privacy controls to pick and choose who you share them with. The web interface is incredbly easy to use and is as good as its counterpart Flickr, though lacking some of the great features that makes Flickr unique.

Tips
• Batch rename your files when you import them, so you’re not stuck with hundreds of date numbered photos.
• Do use picasa web as a way to back up your favorite photos. Expanding your storage is easy as google offers tiered plans ranging from $5 a year for 20gb to 1TB for $256 per year!
• Google is running a current promotion that is pretty neat:
Buy 200 GB of storage for $50 and get a free Eye-Fi card
Eye-Fi cards lets you wireless upload photos directly from your camera to your pc, and social networking sites as well.
Click here for more info: https://www.google.com/accounts/PurchaseStorage

I hope you enjoyed the quick review of the Picasa software because not only is it easy to use, quick and full of functionality, I use it daily as my main photo editing software. What are your thoughts and experiences on this software?

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