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Review: Picasa – Organize, edit and share your photos the easy way

Picasa is an excellent application for organizing and editing photos and images. Digital photography makes it easy for people to take photos of their most memorable moments, hone their artistic skills or just take snapshots of family outings. With high capacity memory cards becoming more affordable you can easily end up with hundreds of photos after a single shooting session. Organizing or finding a specific photo at a later stage can quickly become an exercise in futility. Especially, if like me, you just dump your memory cards contents to some obscure folder on your hard drive to be sorted at a “later date”… which most likely never happens.

Google comes to the rescue with Picasa, a free software application that allows you to organize, search, edit and share your photos easily and quickly.

Organize and search your photo collection

Once you install Picasa it automatically searches your hard drive for images and organizes them in a single library. You can then easily move images to different folders, rename files or groups of files, add captions and even rate your images (similar to the rating system in Windows Media Player).

A “Timeline feature” allows you to view your photos in chronological order. Making it easy to browse through large photo collections. Once you have tagged your images, searching for them is a breeze, but you wouldn’t expect anything less from Google, would you?

Edit and Create

Editing images in Picasa is extremely easy.

Picasa also offers an easy and fast way to edit and enhance your photos. The Basic fixes allows you to crop, remove red eye and correct contrast and colour. In addition to basic fixes you can also select from a variety of twelve different visual effects to make your photos stand out from the rest. This can be a one-click process, or if you want to experiment, you can use the sliders to customize the end-result.

You can also easily zoom, pan and tilt your images. Even if you didn’t get that perfect shot you’ll be able to make it seem as if you did. For the more experienced users you can fine-tune your images with the EXIF display.

In addition to editing images, you can also create collages, screensavers, posters and even movies featuring your photos. The movie is basically a slideshow with an accompanying soundtrack which you can show to, and share with your friends. Be aware that, depending on the number of images and the resolution, movie files can become extremely large. There's more than enough features and options to keep anyone busy for a while!

Share, Backup and Print

Picasa makes it easy to share your photos with family and friends. You can e-mail pictures, upload to photo-sharing sites and even upload them to your Blogger blog. You can also treat family members by making them a gift CD with an integrated slideshow.

Printing and backing up your images can't be easier. Step-by-step guides take you through the relevant processes. All you need to do is make the relevant choices along the way. Picasa even remembers which images haven’t been backed up yet ensuring that you won’t forget to backup new files in your collection.

Conclusion:

If you don’t already have image-editing software or if you are looking for a way to easily organize your images, then Picasa is definitely for you. There is a small learning curve, but even non-computer savvy people will easily be able to figure it out.

Google has done an excellent job. In general I’m weary when it comes to free software, but I was pleasantly surprised. Picasa comes highly recommended. Being a free application (4.6MB in size) there is definitely no reason why you shouldn’t try it for yourself.

System Requirements and file types supported

  • PC with 300MHz Pentium® processor and MMX® technology.
  • 64 MB RAM (128MB Recommended)
  • 50 MB available hard disk space (100MB recommended)
  • 800 × 600 pixels, 16 bit colour monitor.
  • Microsoft® Windows 2000, or Microsoft® Windows XP.
  • Microsoft® Internet Explorer 5.01 or better (6.0 recommended).
  • Microsoft® DirectX 7.0 or higher (8.1 ships with XP, 9.0b recommended).
  • Optional: 56K Internet connection speed or better (for access to any online services).

File types supported include:

  • Images -- jpg, bmp, gif, png, psd, tif, RAW files from most camera models
  • Movies -- avi, mpg, wmv, asf, mov (Quicktime), 3gp (for cameraphones)

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