Picasa is a free downloadable program from Google and it’s available here for Windows XP/Vista and here for MAC and even here for Linux (beta). Picasa is a fun and useful addition to your digital scrapbooking toolbox and you can’t beat the price – FREE!
Back in 2005 when I (Katie) started digital scrapbooking, I found Picasa and I enjoyed using it for several years. I never really used it for organizational tasks (although it is great for that purpose), but for creating collage projects like this one.
This layout was published on page 100 of the December 2007 issue of the now defunct Digital Scrapbooking Magazine. My layout was featured in the "kick it up" section and my tips for making photo collages in Picasa were included. This was my first digital layout to ever be published. It looks like it took me hours, but it was really very simple as most things are in Picasa.
When I lost my entire hard drive in a computer malfunction earlier this year, I decided to re-evaluate all of the programs that were loaded on my computer. When Picasa popped up, I realized that it had been close to 2 years since I had used it. I guess I just forgot about it. When we posted about Digital Scrapbook Organization and the program ACDSee, many of you mentioned that you use and love Picasa. Steph asked if I would do a post about this free program and I knew I would be happy to do it and was glad for the opportunity this would give me to re-familiarize myself with this incredible program. I quickly realized that I should have never ignored this powerful little tool that was living on my hard drive!
THE BASICS OF PICASA
Google makes it very easy to understand and use the Picasa program. This youtube video introduction is a great way to become familiar with Picasa.
Be sure to also read about the features included and how to use Picasa web albums and sharing. The Getting Started Guide should answer any questions you might have, but if you think of any others there is a great help section and even a help forum for support.
SETTING UP PICASA
When you setup Picasa, you can choose to have the program scan all of your files, or just a few. If you want to only manage photos in Picasa, it might be wise to just choose the “My Pictures” folder option. I decided to scan everything since I wanted to explore how to manage and tag digital scrapbook supplies as well.
I have A LOT of photos and A TON of digital scrapbook supplies so I was a bit worried about how long it would take the program to get through my collections. The initial scanning process took a little under 3 hours so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It runs in the background so there really isn’t any interruption if you are working on something else at the same time. The actual files are never moved or altered in any way, the scanning is simply so you can view and work with files from within the Picasa program.
Another nice feature is that you have total control over what folders are scanned and displayed in Picasa. Simply go the “Tools” folder in the navigation bar and select “Folder Manager” to make your selections. I chose to have it scan one of my external hard drives (yes, I have two!) and my C drive.
You can also choose to use Picasa as your default photo viewer for certain types of files. If you are planning to use Picasa as your main organizational system for photos and/or digital scrapbook supplies, you will probably want to use it as the default viewer.
ORGANIZING & TAGGING IN PICASA
You can add a “tag” to any image in Picasa to help you easily locate what you are looking for. I have hundreds of solid color digital papers in many different kits and folders. If I type the word “solid” in the search bar it will bring up all files with the word “solid” in the name, or that have been tagged with the word “solid”. This is such an easy way to browse through a large collection of supplies. It is easy to view thumbnails of every solid paper in my stash.
Search by color
or embellishment type
Combine search terms to get more specific results. Here’s button + red
Like any program that uses tagging, it does take an initial investment of time and effort to assign tags to everything. You might want to just start with tagging new supplies as you purchase them.
Photos can also be organized by tags within Picasa. The album feature is a nice way to manage your photo collection as well. A new addition to the latest Picasa download is the face recognition feature that will help you find photos of the same person in a search once you have assigned a name tag to a few of their photos.
PHOTOS & CREATIVE PROJECTS IN PICASA
Picasa has easy to use photo editing tools built right into the program. All edits are non-destructive, which means that the original photograph remains untouched and saved in it’s hard drive location. The newly edited photo is saved in Picasa. You will not find very many photo editing options, but it does have some nice basic fixes and a few fun effects.
The collage tool is my favorite part of Picasa. Simply find the folder of photos you want to use (or create one) and select the make a collage button.
By playing around with a few quick settings, I created this:
There are many options for size and resolution and you can even use the collage prints on a digital scrapbook layout!
WHAT’S GREAT ABOUT PICASA
- It’s Free!
- Instantly available as a download
- Free online support and tutorials
- Great for those who like to view things visually. Easy to see what is in each folder.
- Simple photo editing options
- Slideshow and movie capabilities
- Fun collage tool
Picasa is not a digital scrapbooking program. You will still have to use other programs such as Photoshop, PSE, or Paint Shop Pro to do your actual scrapping. Picasa is simple a photo organization and editing tool. While there are a few limitations, the price is right (free!) and you will find that Picasa is a fun and useful addition to your digital scrapbooking toolbox!
* Edited to add - There was a question in the comments field about a cost to use Picasa.
The cost is only if you use the online storage which I didn't really cover in this post. Online sharing is another fun feature in Picasa. A free online account allows you 1 GB is for online storage and then you have to pay for more. I'm not sure of the cost because I only have a few images in my online picasa album. I really prefer a paid flickr account for online photo storage. All online photo storage sites that I know of will only allow you a certain amount of storage for free.
There is no cost to use Picasa on your computer and there are no limits on the amount of photos it can handle as far as I can tell. I have tens of thousands of images loaded into Picasa and I can edit and tag them all without any problem.
The cost is only if you use the online storage. A free account allows you 1 GB is for online storage and then you have to pay for more. I'm not sure of the cost because I only have a few images in my online picasa album. I really prefer a paid flickr account for online photo storage. All online photo storage sites that I know of will only allow you a certain amount of storage for free. There is no cost to use Picasa on your computer and there are no limits on the amount of photos it can handle as far as I can tell. I have tens of thousands of images loaded into Picasa and I can edit and tag them all without any problem.
P.S. The random winner from yesterday’s comments is Bobbie. She said “I am adoring the Time Flies by After Five Designs! It’s gorgeous and the colors are fantastic! Thanks for this chance.” Check your inbox Bobbie! :)