Basic Editing

Picasa photo editing software

Written by Gail Bjork

Picasa, Google’s free image editing software, offers unique integration of desktop image organizing and editing software with online photo hosting.


Important information for Picasa and Picasa Web Albums users: Google shutting down Picasa


picasaFor years I’ve recommended Picasa, the elegant photo organizing and editing software. Here’s my take on this free program that just keeps getting better and better.

picasa-editPicasa seems to be a play on the name of the famous artist, Picasso. If so, it is quite appropriate as the software interface is both artistic and dazzling.

Picasa is a delightfully easy way to organize, edit and share photos. It’s basic, yet goes beyond the basics of the basic photo editing software that is usually bundled with a digital camera.

The tools and filters in Picasa are more limited than a full-fledged photo editing programs. However, if you are a casual photo editor, they are probably more than you’ll ever need.

What I like about Picasa

  • Free and easy to use.
  • Easily upload images and video to Picasa Web Albums, the online web hosting also offered by Google. Web Albums offers one gigabyte of free storage for photos and videos, and can be upgraded at a reasonable price if more storage is needed.
  • Beautiful and elegant interface.
  • Intuitive and straightforward navigation.
  • Non-destructive editing – your original files are preserved as you edit images and edits can be easily undone.
  • Excellent set of easy-to-use editing tools and filters;  you can fade filter effects such as sharpening.
  • Robust set of features including labeling photos with keywords and star ratings, emailing images from within the program, creating videos, Photo CDs and backups and support for RAW files, a Retouch tool to remove unsightly blemishes, face recognition with automatic red-eye removal, and the ability to add text and watermarks to photos.
  • Batch Album upload — upload multiple albums all at once to Picasa Web Albums.
  • Picnik photo editing — now accessed online from within Picasa Web Album through the editing options.
  • Face Movie — create a movie based around a person. The subject’s face stays aligned in one focus area.
  • Geotagging photos using Google Maps, Bulk tagging, quick tags & tag counts.
  • The program can be set to “watch” specified image folders on your computer hard drive and new folders and images can be accessed directly though the software.
  • Organize, rearrange and sync Picasa Web Albums from your desktop.

What I dislike about Picasa

  • Picasa photo viewer – limiting and annoying to use, especially if your main editing program is one other than Picasa.
  • As of this writing, the rating systems (tags, stars and keywords) do not export with images to other programs.

For those who use more robust photo editing programs, such as Photoshop, you’ll probably use Picasa primarily for snapshots.

Download Picasa (PC)Download Picasa for Mac

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

8 Comments

  • Jerry, thanks for your comments about Picasa. As you pointed out, it’s great software, easy to use and free! I’ve been using it since version one and it keeps getting better with each upgrade. What is doesn’t offer is layers, but most people wouldn’t use them anyway.

  • Brief comment: I needed to take a couple of pictures. But my old software was old, and I couldn’t find it.

    So I tried Photoshop Elements, Corel’s product, Gimp, and some cheapie programs. Would take me a year to learn any of them.

    Then I hit Picasa. Wonderful. I take a picture, crop it, change the contrast, and that’s it. Don’t need to wrap one picture round another etc.

    I am happy. I have 2 big boxes of photographs I took as a kid. Never
    look at them.

  • Warning re Web Albums and paying for extra space.
    They don’t support sub folders, so naming sub folders needs to be unique
    You can’t sort Web Albums alphabetically
    Doesn’t work as a backup as it doesn’t support layered formats or RAW