Original author(s) Idealab
Developer(s) Google
Initial release 2002
Operating system Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
Type Digital photo and Video organizer
License Freeware

Picasa is an image organizer and image viewer for organizing and editing digital photos, plus an integrated photo-sharing website, originally created by Idealab in 2002 and owned by Google since 2004.[1] "Picasa" is a blend of the name of Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, the phrase mi casa for "my house", and "pic" for pictures (personalized art).[1][2] In July 2004, Google acquired Picasa and began offering it as a free download.[1]

Native applications for Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Mac OS X (Intel only) are available through Google Labs. For Linux, Google has bundled Wine with the Windows version to create an installation package rather than write a native Linux version, but this version is severely out of date (the latest Windows version, however, can be run with Wine, see Linux section). There is also an iPhoto plugin or a standalone program for uploading photos available for Mac OS X 10.4 and later.

It was reported in August 2011 that Google would be rebranding Picasa as Google Photos.[3]

Version history


As of May 2011, the latest version of Picasa is 3.8, which supports Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.


As from about early June 2006, Linux versions (2.2.2820-5) became available as free downloads for most distributions of the Linux operating system. It is not a native Linux program but an adapted Windows version that uses the Wine libraries.[4]

Google announced that there will be no Linux version for 3.5, due to low adoption.[5] Since at least July 2009, and as of Nov 2010, Google has only officially offered Picasa 3.0 Beta for Linux

Linux installation

Further information: Using Picasa 3.8 in Linux

Picasa 3.8 for Windows can be successfully installed and used under Linux through the use of Picasa 3.0 and Wine.[6] This involves merely installing the official Linux v3.0beta version, then downloading the Windows version and running the .exe installer through Wine, then overwriting the v3.0beta install with the Windows install.

Web Album alternatives

There are, however, also other programs that can upload to Picasa Web Albums. GwenView and DigiKam can upload to Picasa Web Albums when you install the kipi-plugins package and Shotwell can upload to it without any plugins.

Mac OS X

On 5 January 2009 Google released a beta version of Picasa for Mac (Intel-based Macs only). Also, a plugin is available for iPhoto to upload to the Picasa Web Albums hosting service. There is also a standalone Picasa Web Albums uploading tools for OS X 10.4 or later.[7] The Picasa for Mac is a Google Labs release.[8]

Unfortunately, Picasa for Mac uses the OS X "scroll with inertia" and scrolling speed settings with a high multiplier, making it impossible to configure both Safari/Chrome/Firefox scrolling and Picasa scrolling (in single-picture mode) to be usable at the same time. The thumbnail/gallery view is unaffected.[9]


Organization and editing

For organizing photos, Picasa has file importing and tracking features, as well as tags, facial recognition, and collections for further sorting. It also offers several basic photo editing functions, including color enhancement, red eye reduction, and cropping. Other features include slide shows, printing, and image timelines. Images can also be prepared for external use, such as for e-mailing or printing, by reducing file size and setting up page layouts. There is also integration with online photo printing services. Other simple editing features include adding text to the image. Picasa supports most RAW files, a user is able to view and edit RAW files and save their finished edit (as JPG, et al) without any changes to the original RAW file.


Picasa uses picasa.ini files to keep track of keywords for each image. In addition to this, Picasa attaches IPTC keyword data to JPEG files, but not to any other file format. Keywords attached to JPEG files in Picasa can be read by other image library software like Adobe Photoshop Album, Adobe Bridge, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, digiKam, and iPhoto.

According to Picasa Readme,[10] Picasa can parse XMP data. However, it cannot search local files for existing XMP keywords.


Picasa has a search bar that is always visible when viewing the library. Searches are live, so that displayed items are filtered as you type. The search bar will search filenames, captions, tags, folder names, and other metadata.[11]

Picasa also supports boolean operators for searching in much the same way as Google's web search. All search terms are required by default (as with the operator "AND"), and images tagged with specified keywords can be excluded by using the hyphen (as in the boolean operator "NOT"). For example, searching for family children -friends will cause Picasa to display all images with the keywords "family" and "children", but which do not include the keyword "friends".

Picasa also has an experimental feature that allows searching for images that contain certain colors with the "color:" operator.[12]


Picasa has no separate view window. There is only an "edit view" with a viewing area. Fullscreen view is available in slideshow mode, by holding down the ctrl+alt keys while in "edit view", or by pressing the Alt Gr key. This feature is also available through the context menu of Windows Explorer, and provides a way to start the Picasa editor as well.


In Picasa 2 and earlier versions, changes to pictures made in Picasa overwrite the original file, but a backup version of the original is saved in a hidden folder named "Originals" in the same folder as the original picture (.picasaoriginals on Mac OSX) .

In Picasa 3, changes to pictures made in Picasa are saved to a hidden file picasa.ini in the same folder as the original picture. This allows multiple edits to be performed without altering the original image. Viewing the picture in Picasa or using the Picasa Photo Viewer will apply modifications on the fly, whereas viewing through other programs (such as Windows XP's Photo and Fax Viewer) will display the original image. Changes can also be made permanent using the "Save" function, where the original file is backed up in a hidden folder .picasaoriginals located in the same folder as the original picture and the modified version is written in its place.

Further reading: Manual section "Saving photos" on [13]

Face recognition

On 15 August 2006, Google announced it had acquired Neven Vision, whose technology can be used to search for features within photos such as people or buildings. Google applied this technology for face recognition, and this functionality was launched on Picasa Web Albums on 2 September 2008.[14]

Neven Vision incorporates several patents[15] specifically centered around face recognition from digital photo and video images.


Since June 2007 Picasa can write geographic coordinates to Exif metadata, thus geotagging an image.

Since version 3.5 of Picasa, Google Earth is not needed. Geotagging may be done directly inside Picasa, using a more practical Google Maps component, which enables this functionality in the Mac OS X version.

Other Picasa applications

Picasa Web Albums

Picasa Web Albums (PWA) is a photo sharing web site from Google, often compared to Flickr and similar sites.

It allows users with accounts at Google to store and share 1 GB of large photos for free. Storage is unlimited for photos 2048x2048 pixels or smaller for Google+ users, and for photos 800x800 for everyone else. Videos less than 15 minutes long also don't count towards the limit. After the limit is reached, photos are automatically resized. [16]

Users may upload pictures through a variety of ways: via the PWA web interface on supported browsers,[17] Picasa 2.5.0 or later[18] on Microsoft Windows, using the Exporter for iPhoto, the Aperture to Picasa Web Albums plug-in, Uploader on Mac OS X,[19] F-Spot on Linux, or through WAManager in the Amiga-like OS MorphOS. In both free and paid accounts, the actual resolution of the photo is maintained, even though a smaller resolution photo may be displayed by the web interface.

In Picasa 3 versions of the software , using the 'original size' upload option, pixel size remains the same, but JPEG compression is increased significantly during upload to PWA. As JPEG is a "lossy" format, some picture information (and quality) is lost. Picasa 3.6 added an option to preserve original JPEG quality.[20]

PWA uses an "unlisted number" approach for URLs for private photo albums. This enables a user to email a private album's URL to anyone, and the recipient can view the album without having to create a user account. This is done via an "authentication key" that must be appended to the URL for the album to be shown. The Picasa Help files say that private albums are not searchable by anyone except the user. Another visibility option named "sign-in required to view" is available. This makes the album viewable only to those with whom the album is explicitly shared.

Ads are shown on the free Picasa Web Albums accounts. The Terms of Service[21] permit Google to use the uploaded photos to display on their website or via RSS feeds, and also for promoting Google services royalty-free. Additionally, the terms permit Google to allow other companies with which they are affiliated to use the uploaded pictures to provide syndicated services. This allowance is perpetual and cannot be revoked by the owner of the photos.

Picasa Web Albums was first leaked on 6 June 2006.[22] When introduced, it came with 250 MB free space. On 7 March 2007, that was upgraded to 1 GB. As stated above, storage is now unlimited for small and resized photos. Users can also rent additional storage space (shared between Google services such as Gmail and Picasa Web Albums) from 20 GB to 16 TB.[23]


Hello by Google's Picasa was a free computer program that enabled users to send images across the Internet and publish them to their blogs. It was similar to an instant messaging program because it allowed users to send text, but Hello focused on digital photographs.[24] Users can opt to view the same pictures as their friends in real-time. One of the advantages claimed at the website is that photos could be shared through firewalls.

Hello's service was canceled at the end of 2006, and users were instructed to try the Picasa 'Blog This' functionality for uploading pictures to their blogs. According to the official website,[25] the Hello project was shut down on 15 May 2008.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Google Picasa", Obsessable, 2009 (see: References).
  2. ^ "Google is watching..", Digital Journal (see: References)
  3. ^ Tim Barribeau, Pop Photo. "Picasa to Be Rebranded Google Photos In Light of Google+?", 6 July 2011. Retrieved 26 Aug 2011
  4. ^ About Picasa for Linux
  5. ^ Google Releases Picasa 3.5
  6. ^ Using Picasa 3.8 in Linux
  7. ^ Introducing Picasa for Mac (at Macworld!), 1/05/2009 02:25:00 PM, Official Google Blog
  8. ^ Introduction to Picasa for Mac : Picasa Basics - Picasa Help
  9. ^ Exceedingly sensitive scrolling - Incorrect scroll event handling in edit mode
  10. ^ "Picasa Readme". 
  11. ^ "Search and Locate: Search by keyword, filter, or color". Retrieved 12 November 2009. 
  12. ^ "Feeling Blue? Search for Photos Matching Your Mood". 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Introducing Picasa 3.0 (and big changes for Picasa Web Albums)". 
  15. ^ "Google, Neven Vision & Image Recognition". 
  16. ^ Picasa Now Offering Virtually Unlimited Photo Storage, Brings Google+ Tagging, By Melanie Pinola, Jul 1, 2011,
  17. ^ Creating New Albums: Upload using Picasa Web Albums, Picasa Help
  18. ^ Picasa Web Albums
  19. ^ Picasa Web Albums
  20. ^ Picasa 3.6: Now with collaborative albums
  21. ^ Picasa: Terms of Service
  22. ^ Google Picasa Web Albums Coming?
  23. ^ Picasa Help Center - purchasing additional storage
  24. ^ Hello : Welcome
  25. ^ "Hello". Archived from the original on May 10, 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2010.  Archive copy at the Wayback Machine.


External links

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Picasa. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

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