Picasa Pains: Using Picasa Web as Backup; Sync All Folders

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Picasa Pains: Using Picasa Web as Backup; Sync All Folders

Does Picasa Modify Original Image?

Xah Lee, 2010-02-14, 2011-01-09, 2011-06-23

Started to use Google's Picasa for managing photos and images, and possibly later i'll also use Google's Picasa Web Albums.

Face Recognition for Easy Tagging

Google's software are quite the best among competitors. For example, Picasa features face recognition. This can let you easily organize your photos of family and friends. It is also integrated with Google's Blog and Google Earth. So, you can easily comment a photo and publish it on Bloggger or Google Earth. Face recognition is a very difficult problem. Such software are usually sold for tens of thousands of dollars in security industry. I'm not aware of any consumer level photo software that has face recognition feature. Google made it free!

Does Picasa Move or Modify My Original Photos?

Two of the things i really love about Picasa is that:

  • ① It does not store a extra copy of your images. It simply let you pick folders that you want Picasa to know about. (by default, this is your “My Pictures” folder) For each folder or your entire hard disk, you have the option of “scan once” or “keep up to date”. It means wherever your image files are, they are still there. You can also move your images as usual and Picasa will know where it is (unless you move it to a location that you've set to not be scanned by Picasa).
  • ② When you edit your images using Picasa, it does not modify the original image file. They are left intact. When you change a image in Picasa, such as {rotate, crop}, the edited version is stored in a file named “.picasa.ini” in the same folder as the original.

If you look at the content of “.picasa.ini”, it is like this:

text=1;138;17;Xah Lee;Arial;0.128993,0.146344,0.033333,0.000000;v1,4294967295,4278190080,128.000000,1.000000,0.000000,1.000000,400,0,49152;;

This is fantastic! This means, it doesn't actually store a edited version of your image, but just a tech description of the edit. This is really smart, and does not hog your disk space, and you don't have to deal with multiple versions of your images.

Picasa Pains: Using Picasa Web as a Backup; Sync All Folders

Xah Lee, 2011-06-23

Google Picasa app is a great photo management software. It is integrated with Google Picasa Web for easy upload and sync. Picasa Web has 1 G free storage for your photos or image files. One might think it's useful as a backup scheme. Not so. Here's few points:

  • If you want to use Picasa/web as a backup, make sure you set the sync to upload full-sized original, and no water-stamps. Also, you need to set “Privacy and Permissions” properly in Picasa Web.
  • When you have lots of photos and upload them as original, it sucks disk space quick. 1 G free space will quickly be used up. Though, you can buy 20 G space for just $5 a year.
  • Picasa doesn't really have a concept of subfolders. You cannot make a folder and all its subfolders to be synced in one shot. You have to activate sync for each and every folder (a manually intensive process.). This means, if you are the type who spend time to organize your photos into hierachy of subfolders, it won't work so well with Picasa. Going forward, you probably should avoid nesting folders as a organizing scheme, because it takes a lot time and one fixed hierachy is not flexible. Rather, use tags and annotation to organize instead. But if you start to use tags as your organization scheme, it means you'll be locked-in with Picasa. If someday you want to switch to another photo management app or OS {Windows, Mac, Linux}, all the time you spent with tags will probably be lost.
  • The sync works one way: from your PC to the web. Not both ways. If you delete a pic on your PC, the one the web is deleted too. But if you delete a pic from Picasa Web, the one on PC is not deleted.
  • In general, Picasa Web is not designed for backup purposes. Rather, more for publishing, like Flickr.

Picasa is not really intuitive. You have to spend quite some time to get used to the user interface. You'll also take a hour or two to get familiar with Picasa Web well. e.g. whether your photos can be seen by others, how to change them, etc.

Picasa Keyboard Shortcuts

Selecting Photos

  • Ctrl+a】 Select all
  • Ctrl+d】 Deselect
  • Ctrl+i】 Invert selection
  • Home first photo
  • End last photo
  • Ctrl+h】 Hold selected photos in Photo Tray
  • Ctrl+o】 Choose a file on your computer to display in Picasa.

Viewing Photos

  • Ctrl+1】 small thumbnails
  • Ctrl+2】 large thumbnails
  • F11 full-screen
  • Ctrl+4】 Start a slideshow
  • Ctrl+5】 View your timeline
  • Ctrl+Enter】 Show in Windows Explorer
  • Hover over a photo and use 【Ctrl+Alt】 Full-screen photo preview

Editing Photos

  • Ctrl+3】 Open an image in Edit Mode
  • Ctrl+r】 Rotate the image clockwise
  • Ctrl+Shift+r】 Rotate the image counter-clockwise
  • Ctrl+Shift+h】 Flip image horizontally
  • Ctrl+Shift+v】 Flip image vertically
  • Ctrl+Shift+b】 Add black and white effect
  • Ctrl+8】 Add a star

Watching Videos

  • / Play/Pause
  • , Rewind
  • . Fast forward


  • Ctrl+e】 Email selected photos
  • Ctrl+p】 Print selected images
  • Ctrl+Shift+p】 Print album contact sheet
  • Ctrl+t】 Add tags to your photos
  • Ctrl+n】 Create a new album
  • X Exclude a photo when importing
  • Ctrl-M Open the import room

Picasa Photo Viewer

  • Ctrl+u】 Single image upload
  • Ctrl+r】 Rotate the image clockwise
  • Ctrl+Shift+r】 Rotate the image counter-clockwise
  • Ctrl+8】 Toggle adding a star
  • Left and right arrow keys: Scroll through images

Reference: Picasa Keyboard shortcuts @ picasa.google.com.

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