Picasa Photo Editing and Management

I currently use iPhoto, as it came with the Mac. Now, Apple has decided to discontinue the iPhoto software and convert over to Photos.

Okay, so now I have a decision to make about how I plan to go forward with my photo management.

There are mixed reviews on Apples new Photo App and I’ve decided to look for a more proven solution at this time.

Some of the important features I need are:

  • Import from iPhoto
  • Face Recognition
  • Duplicate file detection
  • File Management
  • Marking Locations
  • Photo Editing Tools

After researching alternatives, I have decided to use Picasa (the desktop version), a Free photo management application that is owned by Google.  It is rated fairly high and as noted, is free. The other things I liked about it, is that it does not store the photos on my computer, it just looks at the folders on my computer and displays the photos it finds. This reduces duplicating the pictures (as is the case with iPhoto, if you import from your hard drive – which I did).  Also, the original photos are preserved.  When using the editing tools in Picasa, the original file is never touched.  When you save your changes, Picasa creates a new version of the photo with your edits applied, leaving the original file preserved.

You can define the file type that you want it to find, including RAW formats and movie formats. The default has all turned on except .gif, which you can turn on if you want.

I spent the last couple of weeks using Picasa.  Although it’s fairly easy to use, there were some things I had to figure out, but overall I think it will work for me. Here is my initial review:

Import from iPhoto

First off, you do not have to import from iPhoto to view the iPhoto Library from Picasa.  However, you cannot edit any photo’s from iPhoto.  If you try, Picasa will prompt you with a message asking if you want to duplicate the photo. You can then edit the duplicate.

I chose to import the photo’s because I just want to get rid of iPhoto, since it’s going away and the photo’s are in their proprietary format.

This was actually a pretty easy process.  The only downside, is that the photo’s import to one directory called Imported from iPhoto. I am currently working through the file management, but know they are there and not lost. Here is the process to import them from iPhoto:

  • First turn off viewing iPhoto
    • From Navigation bar: Click on Tools > Photo Manager
    • In Photo Manager, click on iPhoto Library directory (it was on the top of my list)
    • Click on Remove from Picassa Button
  • Next Import your photos from iPhoto
    • From Navigation bar: Click on File > Import from iPhoto

Now your iPhoto pictures are viewable and editable.

Note: If you altered a photo in iPhoto, it will come over in the altered state, however, Picasa will give you an option to restore it to the original.

Face Recognition

The face recognition is fantastic. This saves a lot of time and is really easy to use.  However, after using it I do offer a couple of tips.

After you’ve started by adding the most common people, you’ll want to go through your unidentified people. Note the column on the right. It will display when you click on one of the icons at the bottom right. The first icon is for “people”. Click on that to toggle it open (note it toggles the column open/closed). In the unidentified people (the first person at the top of the left column), select a face and click on it, you will see a list at the right that you can quickly accept (or not), making the process much faster than typing the name in the box below.

However, from unidentified people, when I double clicked to get to the photo, I couldn’t figure out how to add a missed face in Picasa. It turns out you can do this, but have to go in through the album or directory. It doesn’t work when accessing the photo through the unidentified people for some reason.

Another tip: rescanning is not intuitive.  Do the following to rescan in Picasa:

  • First, Go to “Tools > Folder Manager ” and select the directories you want to Always Scan and make sure that is set.
  • To Rescan on demand, select the directory you want to rescan.
  • Turn Face Detection Off and then back On.
  • In the left column, where your unidentified people were listed at the top, should now show Scanning for faces.

Duplicate File Detection

Under “Tools > Experimental” in the toolbar, there is an option to Show Duplicate Files. This wasn’t very helpful, in my opinion. I ended up using Duplicate Photo Fixer Pro that you can get through the Apple Store for 99 cents. It worked great.  However, as I understand it, you should do most of your file management through Picasa, since it points to photos in your directories and needs to know when they are moved or deleted. However, I haven’t experienced any problems YET. I deleted over 24,000 files that were duplicates using Duplicate Photo Fixer Pro outside of Picasa.

File Management

You can do basic file management through Picasa, which is recommended.  You can easily delete, move and rename photos. It’s certainly adequate for my needs.  With the face recognition and albums, it’s easy to find your photo’s without trying to figure out where your photo is stored.  Being a genealogist, I use the ‘tags’ feature to tag the documents that are not photo’s.  Tags can be added by clicking on the third (tag) icon on the bottom right.

Marking Locations 

Marking locations is easy. Most newer digital cameras have built in GPS.  On these photo’s, all you need to do is click on the second (balloon) icon at the bottom right and a map will appear with the locations that your photo’s were taken marked.  For older photo’s, you can type in an address in the search box at the bottom and add a location.

Photo Editing Tools

Picasa is certainly not PhotoShop, but what it does offer is certainly adequate for my needs and extremely easy to use.  You can experiment with all kinds of effects and easily undo or not accept. You can also revert to the original at any time.  It includes

  • Basic Photo Editing Tools
    • Crop
    • Straighten
    • Redeye
    • Auto Contrast
    • Auto Color
    • Retouch
    • Adding Text
    • Fill Light
  • Lighting
    • Fill Light
    • Highlights
    • Shadows
    • Color Temperature
    • Neutral Color Picker
  • Tone Adjustment
    • Sharpen
    • Sepia
    • Black and White
    • Warmify
    • Film Grain
    • Tint
    • Satuation
    • Soft Focus
    • Glow
    • Filtered Black and White
    • Focal Black and White
    • Graduated Tint
    • And many more effects

Overall I’m happy with the results.  It took me a bit to figure out how to add missed faces (because I was trying to add through the unnamed album), and figure out how to rescan, but otherwise was fairly easy.

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