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When you tried to import pictures by opening Picasa first and using the Import feature … that’s correct. Yes, it will be imported to your Pictures folder. Picasa is not a picture container like iPhoto is. Picasa works with your picture files on your computer.
iPhoto keeps all its pictures in one package. Picasa can see into that package but it will not touch them. If you try to work with an iPhoto picture using Picasa – Picasa will need to make a copy of it.
Both programs are good – but it does get confusing if you have both of them. My recommendation would be to decide on one.