How Does Picasa Find Your Pictures?
I know that Picasa has been retired by Google, but it is still available, and it still is the best free software for managing pictures on your computer. If you’re going to use it, you need to understand that the pictures must come from your computer. Picasa works with the pictures that are stored on your computer’s hard drives.
Your first Stop in Picasa should be Folder Manager! It is a common misconception that once you install Picasa, your pictures are ‘IN’ Picasa. But that is not true. Picasa is not a container. It is simply a tool for working with the pictures that are on your computer. If you use Picasa to delete a photo, you will be deleting that photo from your computer. If you remove Picasa from your computer, your pictures are still there. You can tell Picasa which folders of pictures you want it to display by using Tools->Folder Manager. It starts out scanning your whole computer for pictures, but you should go into Folder Manager and remove the folders you don’t want to see in Picasa. Here is a video that shows you how to use Folder Manager.
Understand Files and Folders! Many years ago our computer training company helped people computerize their accounting systems. The first thing we had to do was review their manual accounting system. If their manual system was a mess, computerizing it would just be a bigger mess and getting messier faster! The same principle applies with your organization of pictures. If you don’t understand the folders on your computer where your pictures are located, you really won’t understand where they are once you start using Picasa! If you use a Windows-based computer, that means learning to use Windows Explorer. If you use a Macintosh, that means learning to use the Finder. Your pictures are most likely stored in the My Pictures folder on your computer – with or without Picasa!
Please read thru these articles:
Jim and Chris Guld
Google Photos–Is it Really Unlimited and Free?
Google Photos will store your entire library, many thousands of photos, for free!
YES!! If you choose the photo size called High Quality and not Original, Google Photos will store your entire photo library of many thousands of photos, for free. Learn more from the Google Photos Help page.
What is High Quality?
At the High Quality size, Google maintains your photos’ pixels up to 16 MegaPixels. That’s 4,000 X 4,000. That’s more than most digital cameras offer today. It’s big. So it sounds like it only reduces your photo if it’s more than 16 megapixels right? Well, not exactly. It does take your photo and compresses the file size while maintaining the same number of pixels. Your 12 megapixel photo will still be 12 megapixels, but where the .jpg file for the original photo may have been 3 MB (megabytes), the file that is uploaded is compressed to about half that.
If you take pictures for personal use, just select High Quality and don’t even think about it. It is truly high quality. That’s is big enough to completely fill your computer screen and be very sharp. I have printed 8X10 glossies of a picture using the original .jpg file and using the compressed ‘High Quality” file and I could not tell the difference.
If you are a professional photographer who may want your picture to grace the cover of a magazine, that’s another story. I’m sure you want your original. So keep the original somewhere, but you may still want to use Google Photos at the High Quality setting. The smaller files give you a faster experience when viewing, searching, uploading, downloading,and sharing than the full size.
If I have Unlimited storage, why does it say I have 13 Gigabytes remaining?
Google gives everyone 15 Gigabytes of storage for free. This storage is shared by all your Google services; Gmail, Google Drive, Contacts, Photos, etc. So, Gmail and Drive may be taking up 2 Gigabytes, for example, bringing your quota down to 13. Photos uploaded using Google Photos at High Quality do not count. So, if you uploaded even 20 Gigabytes of photos, you would still have 13 GB of your quota left.
If you upload photos using Google Drive, they will count against your quota. It’s only when you upload using the Google Photos Backup and Sync, with setting at High Quality, that they don’t count.
What about Pictures I already uploaded at Original Size?
Google now gives you a way to retroactively set past uploads to the High Quality and thus recover the storage space used up on your quota. Using a computer, go to Photos.Google.com, click on the 3 line menu and then Settings. You’ll see an option to Recover Storage. Click that and any already uploaded pictures will be compressed.
Does Uploading Pictures with Picasa use the High Quality Setting?
No. Picasa still uses an old standard size called “Best for Sharing.” This is defined as 2048 pixels on the longest side. To put it in the same terms, let’s say a picture is 2048X2048 – that would be just over 4 MegaPixels – or 1/4 the size of the new “High Quality.”
Here’s what you do: Use Picasa to upload photos at the Original Size option. This will count against your storage quota from Google, but you can later use the option to Recover Storage and retroactively compress those files.
Using Picasa and Google Photos Together
This is what I do now: All my photos collect in the cloud with Google Photos, I make albums of my best photos there, then I download those albums to my computer so I have them in Picasa for safekeeping, collages, text on photos etc. Picasa can Upload to Google Photos, creating an album of photos online. Picasa can also download Albums from Google photos online, creating folders of pictures on your computer that can even synchronize with the cloud.
To upload from Picasa on your computer to Google Photos
- Select the photos you want to upload. You’ll see them in the selection tray in the lower left.
- Click the Green “Upload to Google Photos” button, log in to your Google account if necessary
- Select an existing Album, or click the New button and enter a new album name
- Choose a size: Original or Best for Sharing
We recommend Original – this will count against your storage allotment, but you can recover that space later. Selecting Best for Sharing will reduce the resolution of your photos to 2048 px.
- Click Upload
To Download from Google Photos to your Computer and Picasa
- Click the File menu and Import from Google Photos
- Selecting “Import All Albums” will do just that, or clicking on “Import Selected Albums” allows you to specify
- These downloaded albums will create folders on your hard drive under the Pictures folder. They will show up in Picasa in the “Web Albums” collection below Folders
- In addition to downloading your photos to a folder, you can click the “Sync to Web” button so that any new photos added to the album will be added to the computer. So, you can make a collage using Picasa, then add that collage to the Synced folder and it will be uploaded to
A major advantage to this method of downloading is that captions are preserved! If you added descriptions using Google Photos – those descriptions show up as captions in Picasa. This is not true when you use Google Photos download command. There is also one drawback to this method – Picasa will only download pictures that are not already on your computer. So, if some of these pictures in the Google Photos album started out on your computer, then the album download will create a folder that is missing those pictures. You can avoid this either by always uploading to the cloud first, and just downloading albums. Or, by using folder manager to limit what Picasa is seeing from your computer – fooling it, if you will, into not knowing that those photos already exist.
I use this method all the time to incorporate Picasa into my photo workflow. I gather all my pictures in the cloud with Google Photos – thousands of them – then I download just the best, the ones in albums.
For Geeks on Tour Premium Members
Here are some tutorial videos related to this subject. If you’re not a member, you can join here.
Picasa is Dead. Long Live Picasa!
Google made it official with an announcement on February 12, 2016: Moving on from Picasa. They are retiring Picasa and devoting all their efforts to one photo product: Google Photos. This affects both the desktop software, Picasa3, and the web service, Picasa Web Albums. If you use either the desktop software, or the website, this announcement affects you.
How the announcement affects you – short answer:
- Picasa3 Desktop: you can still use the desktop software but we recommend saving your edits now,
- Picasa Web Albums: you’ll need to switch to Google Photos instead of Picasa Web Albums, no transfer of pictures necessary.
For the long answer, keep reading.
We hosted a Live Panel Discussion on the Picasa Announcement on our weekly web show, What Does This Button Do?
- Live webcast with discussion of the Picasa announcement
- Sunday February 21, 2016
- Watch the YouTube recording at this link.
Picasa3 – the Desktop Software
Keep using it! Long Live Picasa! Although this product will not receive further updates, either bug fixes or enhancements, it is software that you download to your computer’s hard drive. If you have it, you can keep using it. Nothing will change. It will not self destruct. Your pictures will still be right where you put them, on your hard drive.
If you get a new computer, you will need the Picasa software setup file. Picasa3 is software that used to be freely downloaded from the web page Picasa.Google.com. That was removed on March 15. After that, you can download the Picasa installation files from Filehippo.com, or, here is our Picasa Download for Geeks on Tour Members. Further information is available on the Picasa Resources page maintained by the Google Picasa Forum Top Contributors.
Google Photos replacing Picasa3? No – Google Photos will not, nay, CAN NOT replace Picasa3 Desktop software. Google Photos is not an option for working with pictures on your hard drive. The pictures must be uploaded to the Web (Photos.Google.com) before you can do anything with them using Google Photos. If you have a good Internet connection, you may find that you enjoy working with them on the web and you can stop keeping copies on your computer (except for archival purposes.) When that day comes for you, Google Photos can replace Picasa, but not before.
Using Outdated software? Most of us have outdated software that we still use. I use Photo Story 3 even though it is a software product that has not been officially supported since Windows XP! It still does what I want it to do, so why not? I would not continue to use the operating system of Windows XP because that is a security and computer performance issue, nor do I advise using the outdated navigation system of Streets and Trips because updates are important when roads change. PIcasa3 is software that is meant to do a job with pictures on your computer hard drive. It will continue to do that job even after it is “retired”, so you can continue to use it.
Parts of Picasa will be affected. There are parts of the program that interact with the web:
- Upload to Google Photos
- Synchronize with Web Albums
- Upload videos to YouTube
As long as these features are working for you, you can use them. I expect that they will develop problems over time because the Web side of the equation will change, and Google will not fix those problems on this retired software. You will need to perform those tasks with other methods. For example, to upload to Google Photos you would use Google Photos; to Email pictures you would use your email program. I have also been hearing of some problems with importing pictures using Picasa’s tools. I recommend importing with standard Windows or Mac tools.
Save Your Edits! Using those alternate ways of sending pictures to the web means that you will be interacting with your pictures outside of Picasa, you will be uploading the picture as it is found on your hard drive rather than the one you see in Picasa that shows your edits. See this article if you don’t understand what I mean: Original vs Edited Photo in Picasa
You now need to get accustomed to saving your edits so the picture found on the hard drive is the same one you’re seeing with Picasa. For an individual picture you use File->Save. For a folder of pictures, you can save them all at once by clicking on the disk icon:
Picasa Web Albums
After May 1, 2016 you will need to switch to using Google Photos. Picasa Web Albums is going away. After May 1 you will not be able to create a new Picasa Web Album (update: it is now June 1 and PWA is still here – but it is still expected to go away sometime.) All of your existing Web Albums will be (are now) accessible via Google Photos. All links to your photos in places like Blogs will still work. They will also be accessible at a new “Archive” site that Google is creating. This is necessary because Picasa Web Albums included some data that Google Photos does not – such as comments. In order to see comments that were left on your photos using Picasa Web Albums, you will need to visit the new Archive site. There are quite a few features that the Google Photos website lacks in comparison to Picasa Web Albums:
- Sorting Album lists by Date or Album Title(Google Photos is only by date, descending in the library, ascending in Albums)
- Sorting Photos within Album: by Date-Oldest First or Newest First, or By Filename (Google Photos is only by Date-Oldest First) Update 6/1: you can now Edit Album and drag photos into new order
- Show all photos from an Album in place on a map
- Order Prints
- Viewing Captions with the photos
- Playing Slideshow (only available on Android version) Update 6/17/16 slideshow now available on Web version.
- Setting Album Visibility: 1:Public, 2:Limited: Anyone with Link, 3:Limited: Listed People, 4:Just You (Google Photos is 1:Just You or 2:Anyone with Link)
- Display all public albums with one URL web address – there is no “Public” designation anymore, therefore no way to view all Public albums.
- Keep track of updates on Google+
I wish that Google had decided to keep Picasa3 Desktop software in a maintenance mode. They haven’t updated it in any significant way for the past 4 years, why not keep it going for another 1 or 2 years? In that time Google Photos would become more mature, and people would be more accustomed to working with their pictures on the web rather than on their computer.
I wish that Google had decided to maintain the Picasa Web Albums website for another year while they added some of the missing features to the Google Photos interface. Google Photos is still so new. People need more time to accept change, and they will be more willing when Google Photos has more features.
Guess what? Google didn’t ask me before they did this! And, I’m sure that there are a lot more factors that Google has to consider. The underlying technology is changing all the time, and Google stays on top of that. In fact, Google is often inventing the new technology, and they can’t move as fast as they need to when they are shackled by maintaining legacy connections. Google also has plenty of business considerations. They recently reorganized the whole company under the Alphabet name. I’m sure that has a lot of repercussions.
If you also wish that they would not retire Picasa now, you can add your voice by visiting Photos.Google.com, clicking on the 3-bar menu and then Send Feedback. Who knows, enough voices can make a difference! At least add a vote for your important features to be added to Google Photos. Mine are 1: captions that stay with pictures when downloaded, 2:watermarks on shared photos 3:Display all public albums with one URL web address.
I’m Going with Google
I intend to embrace Google Photos completely. I love how it effortlessly it collects ALL the photos of my life, and gives me fun ways to display and share them. I trust Google with my pictures. I have nearly 50,000 pictures stored online in my Google Account and there is no charge for that (I’m fine with the less-than-original file size required.) Google Photos offers unlimited storage for free. I started uploading my pictures to Google around 2005 with Picasa Web Albums, and, as far as I can tell, they are all still there. But, for local backup, I have also used the Google Takeout service to download a copy of all my Google Photos to an external hard drive for safe keeping.
I will also continue to use Picasa3 on my computer as long as I have pictures on my hard drive. The more I use Google Photos however, the less I am keeping photos on my hard drive. I am downloading just specific ones, when there is something I want that only Picasa3 can do, like add Watermarks, other text on pictures, real captions, or fancy collages.
This website, PicasaGeeks.com, will continue to teach Picasa. There are currently over 250 articles, mostly on features of the Picasa3 desktop software. Those will remain, and I will still write more in response to your questions. But, I will also be writing about Google Photos. I’ve started a brand new site to focus on Google Photos: LearnGooglePhotos.com
Desktop: If for some reason, you don’t want to continue using Picasa3 Desktop software, here are some suggested alternatives:
- Windows Photo Gallery: This is probably the software that most closely resembles Picasa3 desktop software. It is free from Microsoft. It works with the photos on your computer’s hard drive. It can upload photos and share them on OneDrive, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube. Downside: this software hasn’t been upgraded since 2012 – it could also get ‘retired.’ It has some great photo features like Photo Fuse, but it is missing two important ones: Text on photos, Collages.
- Adobe Photoshop Elements 14: This is not a free program. The cost is $99, currently on sale for $69. The latest version is 14. This is desktop software. It can share with Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and Twitter. Expect a relatively steep learning curve, but you will be rewarded with powerful features.
- Windows 10 Photos: This is the photo management program that comes with Windows 10. It has basic editing, and it shares online automatically using Microsoft OneDrive. It can also share with Facebook and Twitter. 15 GB of free storage, 50GB for $1.99/mo or 1TB free with Office 365.
- Apple Photos: Desktop software for Macs and App for iPhone/iPad. Shares with iCloud Photo Library. 5GB of free storage space, then plans up to 1TB.
Web: If Google Photos does not offer the features you need for Web Storage and Photo Sharing, here are some alternatives:
- Dropbox.com: Not a photo program, it is Cloud storage that could take the place of Picasa Web Albums. It can combine nicely with Picasa3 on the Desktop to provide web storage and sharing of photos with a smooth integration with the desktop. Just point Picasa’s File Manager to your Dropbox folder on your hard drive and you have synchronization! 2GB of free storage space, then $9.99/mo for 1TB.
- Flickr.com: Owned by Yahoo. The granddaddy of Photo Sharing websites. No desktop software, but powerful web storage and sharing. 1TB of free storage space.
- Amazon Prime Photos: Using Amazon Cloud Drive, Prime members get unlimited photos storage for free.
- Facebook Photos: We use Facebook so much, we forget that it is storing our photos!
- Microsoft OneDrive: As mentioned above the Windows Photos app uses OneDrive for storing photos online. You can use it directly without the Photos app as well. The online interface has nice photo management features like tags, albums, and slideshows, but no editing.
- Apple’s iCloud Photo Library will store your photos, but only for Apple devices.
For more information, please watch our video above with the panel of experts.
Also, the Top Contributors for the Picasa User Forum have put together a very detailed page of information about the Picasa Retirement and what it means to you.
What questions do you have? Please leave a comment below.
Original vs Edited Photo in Picasa
Using Picasa on my computer, I edit photos by cropping, straightening, color correcting, etc. When I look at the pictures in Picasa I see the edited version, but when I use Facebook and Add Photo from my computer, I get the unedited orginal. Can you explain this to me? How do I get the edited version to Facebook?
Short Answer: If you use Picasa’s File Save command before using Facebook’s Add Photo, you will get the edited photo posted to Facebook.
How Picasa Handles Edits
Picasa remembers all the edits you made without touching the original photo file on disk. It stores that edit information in an overlay file called picasa.ini. When you view the picture using Picasa, it merges the original picture file on disk with the remembered edits from the picasa.ini file. What you see is what you get. If you print, email, export, or upload using commands within Picasa, you will get the edited version. But, the picture on disk, in My Pictures, is the original photo – unchanged.
If you use any other program (e.g. Facebook) to view the photo on disk, you will see the original unchanged picture. So, before using it in any other program you do need to save. In single photo view, click File | Save. You can also click the ‘Save to Disk’ button (in Library view) to save all edited photos in an entire folder.
Why Doesn’t Picasa Automatically Save Edits to Disk?
- To save disk space. Because PIcasa wants you to be able to return to your original at any time. When edits are saved to disk, it makes a backup copy of your originals in a hidden folder called .picasaoriginals. So, saving edits will result in twice the disk storage space being used.
- To keep image quality high. Each time you make a change and save those changes, you degrade the image quality a tiny bit. Think of making a copy, then making a copy of that copy, then making a copy of that copy. So Picasa’s technique is to always start with the original photo on disk, then apply any edits you’ve made when you print, email, export, or upload. This way, you are never more than one generation away from the original, and therefore the original quality, of the picture.
What about using Google Photos Backup?
If you have installed Google Photos Backup and have it set to automatically backup the pictures in your My Pictures folder, it will be uploading the pictures it finds on disk – the originals without any edits. Therefore, if you want to upload the edited versions, you need to turn off Google Photos Backup until after you’ve made your edits and saved them. Then you can either turn the Auto Backup back on, or manually upload pictures to Google Photos.
Picasa: 2015 Year in Review–Good News/Bad News
2/12/16 NEWS! Google is retiring Picasa. March 15, 2016 the Picasa Desktop Software will be discontinued (if you already have it, you will see no change.) May 1, 2016 Picasa Web Albums will go away (all photos and videos in Picasa Web Albums are already accessible by Google Photos.) Read the official announcement here. Keep a watch on this site – we will write more later in the week when the dust has settled.
It’s been a weird year for Picasa. Google owns Picasa and Google is constantly changing stuff, yet the Picasa software had basically no changes at all. This is both good news and bad news.
- It’s good because it signals that Picasa is a mature software program. It is stable, the things you learned how to do last year still work the same this year. That is SO welcomed!
- It’s bad because it means that Google is directing its energies elsewhere and people fear that Google may be abandoning Picasa altogether.
We are currently on Picasa version 3.9 and that was first released 5 years ago! We did get one minor Picasa update in September where they changed the words on the Share Button.
|Before the September 2015 Update||After the September 2015 Update|
This change made me very happy because it tells me that Google has not forgotten about Picasa and they consider it part of their photo toolbox along with Google Photos. However, other than the words on the buttons, nothing else has really changed. When you upload a picture to Google Photos using Picasa, it resizes your photo with its old size limit of 2048 pixels per side, that’s about 4 MegaPixels. If you use the newer Google Photos backup, or upload directly from your smartphone, you can now upload High Resolution files – up to 16MegaPixels.
Note: There is now a workaround for Picasa’s size limitation by uploading at Original size, then later using the Google Photos command to “Recover Storage” and it will resize all original photos online to the free 16Mp. But, my point is, they haven’t updated the Picasa software to the new standards.
Learn Google Photos
Google Photos was announced at the end of May. It is a brand new product for Google, built from scratch to be useful in a world where pictures are being taken by phones and viewed on a tablet. Google envisions a world where computers don’t exist anymore. For most of us this is still a ways in the future. In my experience the future keeps arriving faster and faster, so I have embraced Google Photos and am having great fun with its new features. See our web show on Sunday, Jan 3 where our beginner’s lesson will be on How To Make Movies with Google Photos.
I still like having pictures on my computer and I still like using Picasa to work with them. I think Google understands this and has no intention of taking Picasa away from us, but it is way down on their todo list to work on any improvements for it.
Picasa Tip of the Week Newsletter
I’ve been writing a Picasa “Tip of the Week” for this blog regularly since 2008, and, for many years it actually was a weekly article. You may have noticed I’ve slowed down lately. With over 250 articles written already I’m running low on new things to say about Picasa. We recently changed the header of this website to include Google Photos in addition to Picasa.
According to my annual report of blog activity, there’s still plenty of people interested:
This blog was viewed about 580,000 times in 2015 by people in 219 countries!
The busiest day of the year was August 29th with 8,988 views. The most popular post that day was Google Photos Announcement–This is BIG.
The Transition Period
I am still struggling to decide how best to use Google Photos on my smartphone and web, and still get my pictures on my computer and use Picasa. I like browsing pictures on my computer with Picasa, and there are still many things that only Picasa can do – like captions, text on photos, watermarks, collages etc. But Google Photos makes it so easy to bypass the computer that I find myself using Google Photos for everything and never getting the pictures on my computer at all. I’ve experimented with a couple different methods – these will be topics for future articles.
What About You?
I’d really like to know what you all are doing with your pictures. Answering just 3 questions will help me put together newsletters that are worthwhile in the year to come.
Photo Captions using Google Photos vs. Picasa
Picasa has many features that Google Photos does not. The most important feature, for me, is captions. Picasa can add captions to your photos that are stored with the picture file itself and can be viewed by other software. I love captions. At a glance, I can see which photos I’ve identified as the best because I only add captions to my best. I also see, at a glance what the picture is about – SO important for aging memories! Even more for aging pictures! If you are a Geeks on Tour premium member, you can watch this video about using Captions in Picasa: Add Captions to your Photos #154 If you don’t see captions below your pictures in Picasa, turn them on with the following command: View->Thumbnail Caption->Caption.
Picasa Makes Captions that Show Up and Stick with the Picture
Remember that Picasa is viewing pictures on my computer. All of these pictures in the screenshot above are on my computer and the captions are stored in the metadata of the .jpg picture itself. So, if you use any method to transfer this picture to somewhere else, the caption goes with it. Whether or not the recipient will see that caption depends on what software they are using to view it, but I guarantee that the caption is encapsulated in the picture file. For example, if you use Picasa’s tool to “Upload to Google Photos,” the caption does go with it, but it doesn’t show up easily. It is available for searching in Google Photos.
To see the text associated with a photo in Google Photos, you need to click the i-for Information.
Google Photos Makes Descriptions that are Hidden and are Lost in Transfer
If you are using Google Photos, then this text is referred to as “Description.” For any photo in Google Photos, you can click the I for Info and you will see a field for “Description.” Type whatever you want in there and that description will stick with the picture as long as you are using Google Photos, but, if you download that picture to your computer – the description is lost. Google Photo’s Description text is stored in some kind of database associated with Google Photos rather than in the metadata of the picture itself.
Ask Google for this New Feature
Captions are extremely important to me, and I hope you agree enough to voice your opinion directly to the good folks at Google. Google Photos is being upgraded all the time, and they listen to the requests of users if you use the proper channels. Having lots of people request the same feature is like taking a vote. The more ‘votes’ a feature gets, the more likely it is that Google will take action. Here’s what you do:
- Go to your Google Photos (on Web, or Android, or iOS)
- Click the 3-line menu (upper left of screen)
- Choose “Send Feedback” and leave your request. You can copy what I wrote if you like:
Please add true captions to photos. The current “description” is lost when I download the photo to my computer. It needs to be written to the metadata of the .jpg file. I would also like captions to appear under the photos in library or slideshow view.
Next comes a step where you can add a screenshot to your feedback. However, in this case, you cannot see the Info part of the screen while you’re in the Feedback tool, so this step will make no sense. It will capture whatever is on your screen and send it in with your feedback. You can use the option to blackout any personal information if necessary.
To clarify the unrelated screenshot, I added this text to my feedback:
I could not get an appropriate screenshot, because you can’t click on a picture and go into i for Information while using Feedback.
Get everyone you know to do the same! And maybe we’ll see a caption update someday soon.
A Workaround to see Descriptions
If you’ve been using Picasa for a few years, you remember the online sharing feature called Picasa Web Albums. When Picasa first started uploading pictures to the web – into your Google account – it used this interface called Picasa Web Albums. That interface is still there. It accesses the same set of photos that you see with Google Photos, but it uses different (older) programming – and, therefore has different features. One thing it has is visible captions. If you use Google Photos and the Description field to type some text on all the pictures in an album, for example, you can view a slideshow of that album using Picasa Web Albums (www.picasaweb.google.com) and you will see the Descriptions show up as an overlay at the bottom of the pictures. Nice! But, if you then download any of those photos – you still lose the Description – so, this is only solves half the problem. Having Captions or Descriptions or Titles that stay with the picture is my primary need.
Getting Your Pictures Down from the Google Photos Cloud
It’s easy to get your pictures UPloaded to the cloud – just turn on the Backup and Sync feature of the Google Photos app on your phone. But how do you get them down to your computer?
I still want my pictures, at least my best ones, to be stored on my computer (or external hard drive.) I’m not comfortable with my only copy of pictures being the cloud copy. For the last 12 years my process has been to collect all pictures from my camera(s) and put them on my computer. Then to upload just the best ones to the cloud and share them. Now, because of Google Photos, my process is being reversed! Google Photos is automatically uploading all my photos to the cloud and I want the best ones copied down to my computer. I have identified 4 methods for downloading my pictures from the cloud (Google Photos) to my computer. Right now I like method 3 the best, but one of the other methods might suit your needs. Please leave a comment for what you think.
Method 1: Downloading Albums of Photos to your Computer
If you’ve used the Google Photos tools to put your best pictures into albums, you can then download those Albums to your computer.
- Open the desired album in Google Photos (on a computer using a Web Browser)
- Click the 3-dot menu in the upper right and choose “Download All”
- This will create a .zip file of all the pictures in the album and, depending on your browser’s settings, it will ask you where you want to save the zip file, or it will automatically save it in your Downloads folder. You can even save that .zip file straight to your external hard drive if you’d like.
- If your purpose for downloading is simply a backup, you’re done. If you want to see those pictures using Picasa, you need to Extract the picture files from the .zip and save them in the My Pictures folder, where Picasa will see them.
Method 2: Download Groups of Photos to your Computer
If you haven’t created albums, you can simply select a group of photos (click on the checkbox in the upper left corner of each photo.) Then click the 3-dot menu and choose download. This will create a .zip file just like in the method 1.
*Method 3: Downloading Individual Pictures to your Computer
*This is my current preferred method. I don’t want zip files, I want the individual pictures to be in my Pictures folder, preferably in the folder for the month they were taken. That’s been my system for the last 12 years and I kind of like it! Here’s how I do it when all my pictures are already in Google Photos:
- View my recent photos using Google Photos (using the Chrome browser.)
- When I see a ‘keeper’ I click the 3-dot menu in the upper right and choose Download. On my system, I am now prompted for a location for the downloaded file. I navigate to my Pictures\yyyymm folder. If your browser doesn’t prompt you for the location it is probably automatically downloading your picture to your Downloads folder. You need to change the Browser’s (Chrome) settings so that it asks you for a location for each download. Here is a help article on how to change download settings.
- Repeat #2 for each ‘keeper’ as I browse thru my pictures. This is a bit cumbersome, but I find it the best of my available options. I regularly browse thru my recently added Google Photos anyway. Just be sure to do it from the computer and download the ones I like best. Not too bad.
Method 4: Use Picasa to Download Albums
If you have made albums using Google Photos, you can use Picasa on your computer to download those albums.
- Using Picasa on your computer
- File->Import from Google Photos
- Check the box to Import Selected Albums then Choose the Album from the list presented
That’s it! This downloads the actual pictures, not a .zip file. Pretty slick, BUT there are two problems:
- It only downloads pictures not already on your computer. If you have already used any other method to get some, or all of the pictures, then the imported album will be incomplete.
- It doesn’t ask for a location. It automatically downloads your imported albums to a special location. In Picasa, you will see a collection at the left sidebar called “Web Albums.” On your hard drive, it will have a numeric identifier like: C:\Users\Chris\Pictures\Downloaded Albums\104655811483131756227\Blackbeard’s Dive Trip Oct 2015
Use Picasa to Create Albums
I still like to use the Picasa tools to create my Web Albums. There are 3 things that I can do with this method that I can’t do by creating Albums with the Google Photos tools
- Captions: When I add a caption using Picasa, that caption is part of the metadata of the picture. When I upload that picture to Google Photos, the caption becomes the Description. This doesn’t work the other way around: when I add a description in Google Photos and then download the picture, the description is lost, there is no caption.
- Watermarks: Picasa has an option to add a watermark to all uploaded photos automatically, so I can add © GeeksOnTour.com to every picture.
- Public Albums: My purpose to creating albums is to share those pictures. When I use Picasa to upload an album, I have the option to make that album Public. There is no such option with Google Photos (yet.) When I have a library of public albums, I can still use my Picasa Web Albums link (picasaweb.google.com/chrisguld) to let people see ALL my shared photos.
There is one drawback to using Picasa to upload – it does not (yet) support the new “High Quality” file size. To keep your unlimited free storage, you must select the size called “Best for Sharing” which shrinks your photo to 2048 pixels on the longest side. For me, this is not a problem. 2048 pixels is plenty big enough to view the picture online and that is my purpose.
Please leave a comment to let me know which method you prefer, or any questions you have.
Picasa Tip: Make a Greeting Card with Collage
Someone recently asked me how she could make a greeting card using Picasa. I came up with an idea that seemed to work, using the Collage tool, so I thought I’d pass it on as a Picasa Tip. Although, truth be told, if it were me, I’d use something like Send Out Cards, or use Picasa’s File->Order Prints and a service like Shutterfly to make professional greeting cards.
But, if you really want to print your own, this is actually a great example of how flexible the Collage feature is with Picasa. Here’s the steps I took to make a Halloween card. I used standard size paper – 8.5 x 11 – folded in half to make a card that opens from the bottom.
- Choose your photo and make sure it is properly cropped to fit proportionately in the space provided. I wanted the picture to cover the front of the card. That would be 8.5 x 5.5. So, I cropped accordingly.
- With that picture, and only that picture selected, I started the collage … Create->Picture Collage. I chose the “Picture Pile” style and set my page size to 8.5 x 11 Letter paper in the vertical/portrait orientation.
- I dragged the sizing handle of the picture until it filled the bottom part of the page, and it was straight.
- I made sure the background color was solid white.
- That’s it for the collage – click “Create Collage”
- Now, with the collage picture, I might want to add some text to the front of the card. Just use the text tool, type some text and choose some colors. I chose the “Jokerman” font.
- You’re ready to print! Then, I would use another program, like PowerPoint, or Word to print text for the inside of the card. Or just leave it blank and handwrite your own message.
If you want to give this a try and need more help, we have several tutorial videos on our Geeks on Tour site for members. If you’re not a member, you can join here.
Find a Tip in our 250+ Photo Tips
In 2008, I decided to start writing a weekly Picasa Tip. Picasa is free software by Google for managing all the pictures on your computer. This site has been called “PicasaTutorials” and “PicasaGeeks.” In May of 2015 Google released the smartphone apps called Google Photos. I Love Google Photos! So I am now also writing about Google Photos and you can get to this site by typing in ILoveGooglePhotos.com! If you subscribe to our free email Tip of the Week, you get an email every time we post a new tip. you’ve probably read a bunch of them! But, what if you wanted to find a past tip?
Search the All Articles Page
My favorite way to find an article on this site is to visit the All Articles page. There you’ll find a complete listing of all 250+ articles alphabetically by title. You can scan thru the entire list, or, if you remember something about the title, you can use the browser Find function – Ctrl-F (Cmd-F on Mac) to open up a Find: box. You’ll see a box open up in the upper right corner of your browser window. Type what you’re looking for and it will search the text of the current page.. For example, if you type Tag into the find box, it instantly highlights in bright yellow all places on the page where tag is found:
Seaching full Text
If the term you’re searching does not appear in the title of an article, you can use the Search box at the top right of every page. Type a word in there and it will search the text of every article. Be aware that this is a literal search of each word. So, if you enter How do I resize a picture into this box, it will return every page that has the word “ How ” in it, or do , or I etc. – all 200 articles will be returned. And, if you put quotes around “How do I resize a Picture?” You will get 0 results because no article has that exact phrase.
Probably the best way to search is using Google because you can ask conversational questions like “How do I resize Pictures” … to limit the results to just pages in the PicasaGeeks.com website, add the option site:picasageeks.com like this:
How do I resize a picture site:picasageeks.com
Note: it is important that there be no space between site: and picasageeks.com.
Searching for Tutorial Videos on GeeksOnTour.com
All these same techniques work on our Tutorial V >resize . Now scroll down the page and you will see the video(s) with ‘resize’ in the title.
Or use the Google search with the site option: How Do I resize a picture site:geeksontour.com
This will give you results from the video library as well as the newsletter articles and the forum posts, and they all will be from the www.GeeksOnTour.com website.
This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour
Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as using smartphones and tablets, managing digital photos with Picasa or Google Photos, using Google Maps, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.