Have you heard the one about the lumberjack who decides to turn in his trusty old axe for a new chainsaw? After struggling for several days with the chainsaw and not felling even one tree, he decides to return it to the store. He tells the salesman that the chainsaw doesn’t work and he wants his axe back. The salesman decides to see what is wrong with the chainsaw so he starts it up. The lumberjack jumps back with surprise saying, ‘What’s that Noise?’
Picasa is easy, but it’s not foolproof. It’s important to take some time up front to learn how it works. There are 5 things I keep seeing people do with Picasa that are wrong. Because they don’t have a good foundation of understanding the program, they use tools the way they *think* they work, rather than learning how they really work. The results is a mess.
- Using the Import tool instead of the Folder Manager.
As you collect more and more photos, I see people putting photos on an external hard drive. This is a wonderful idea, BUT – when they open Picasa they use the Import tool to be able to see them. The Import tool is meant to copy pictures from an external device (usually your camera) to your computer. Now they have the pictures twice! Once on the External Hard Drive, and again on their computer’s built-in Hard Drive. What they should have used is the Folder Manager. The Folder Manager tells Picasa to watch the pictures in their original location – not copy them.
See past article, including Show-Me Video: Using Folder Manager
- Create an Album – then delete the original picture
Picasa is designed to be an efficient manager of all your pictures. You store your pictures in Windows (or Mac) Folders with some simple, logical storage system either by event or by month. Without changing your folders, Picasa gives you tools to view your pictures in different ways. The Album feature is a way to create different categories of pictures regardless of the folder in which they’re stored. (Note: This is *not* Picasa Web Albums I’m talking about here … it’s just ‘Albums’ in the Picasa software on your computer.)
So often, I hear people say, “I copied my picture into an album, then I deleted it from the folder.” NO!! The picture only exists once – and that is in the folder – albums are like playlists, they just point to the picture in whatever folder it is stored. If you delete it from the folder … IT’S GONE.
See past article: Using Albums
- Moving pictures with computer tools outside of Picasa
If you want to move pictures from your computer to an external hard drive, *don’t* do it with Windows Explorer (or Mac Finder.) If you do, your Albums in Picasa will be destroyed. Remember, an album is a list of pointers to pictures in their folders. If you move a folder’s location the album pointer needs to know about the change. PIcasa makes it very easy to move folders and, when you do it with Picasa, it will update all the album information to follow the new locations.
See past article: Moving folders with Picasa
also Basic Show Me Video on moving folders with Picasa (Membership required)
- Using Export instead of Save
When you edit a picture, Picasa doesn’t change the actual picture. Picasa remembers all your edits and displays the picture to you accordingly, but if you look at the picture outside of Picasa you won’t see any of the edits. To make a picture outside of Picasa that looks like the edited version, many people use the Export command. This creates an entirely new picture … now they have two! If they had used the Save command instead, it would have applied the edits to the one existing photo.
See Article: To Save or Not to Save
Also: Different Ways to Save
- “I don’t Need Backups because I use Picasa”
This one truly surprises me, but I hear it over and over. People have heard that Picasa includes Picasa Web Albums and, for some reason they think that it automatically puts all your pictures on the Web Albums. No, No, No. Picasa is software on your computer, PIcasa Web Albums is a free online photo-sharing website that is a companion to Picasa. First of all, even if you do upload your pictures to Picasa Web Albums, I don’t consider that a backup. Picasa Web Albums is a method to share your pictures with friends and family. You still want your original safe on your computer and backed up to CD/DVD or external Hard Drive. Secondly, Picasa doesn’t do anything automatically … it’s good, but it’s not magic! Picasa includes a command to ‘Backup Pictures’ … it’s very easy … USE IT!
See past article: Picasa Web Albums
Also: Backup! Backup! Backup!
Although Picasa is easy to use, it is SO important to understand how it works. A little up-front time spent learning will save you so much time in the long run. We have lots of resources to help:
- Buy the Beginner’s Guide to Picasa
- Become a member of Geeks on Tour to watch all the videos and as questions in the forum
- Subscribe to the free Picasa Tip-of-the-Week email.