|Picasa 1.618 is an
automated photo organizer that lets you create, edit and
share your digital albums. The original Picasa 1.0 release
was very successful and Google quickly acquired the
company in July 2004. The free download file bears the
name Picasa-Google to reflect the change.
Installing Picasa is a snap. The software has low
system requirements; a 300MHz processor (min), 50MB hard
disk space and 64MB RAM. As the setup completes, you will
notice the Picasa media detector icon on the system tray,
which launches on every startup. The media detector
automatically searches any device you plug in to the
system and will automatically extract and import photos to
Picasa by default. This option is very handy when you
attach a digital camera via a USB port. To disable it, go
to Tools --) Options and uncheck the option from the
Picasa searches and finds most image
files with extensions JPEG, BMP, PSD, TIFF, MPG, AVl, WMV,
and ASE You can also customize the types of files to be
searched. After Picasa completes searching your local hard
disks it displays all the images.
The Collection Pane shows 12 albums
present under My Albums, which is a collection of images.
You can add as many collections as you like. Each
collection can have any number of albums but requires one
as a minimum. Think of a collection belonging to an
individual and albums as events of that individual (my
birthday, my college pics, beach party and so on).
The center of the program, where all the
image thumbnails are shown ,is the Album Pane, which
displays all the images in the highlighted album. One can
drag and drop any image in the pane to change its order.
You can decide how to mix and match the collections
according to your wish.
Below the Album Pane is the Picture
Tray, which holds a selected image. The Picture Tray
enables the user to print, e-mail, export, order prints or
send the selected image to a blog via Hello You can load
more images into the tray by holding the current image and
selecting others. The Export option lets you save the
image to another location on your hard disk and even
resize it in order to save hard disk space. The Order
Prints option will connect to the Picasa server to
purchase digital images from their site, registration is
required which is free. Send Hello makes it easier for you
to publish pictures on your blog and is again a Google-owned
service. The slider in the Picture Tray allows you to
increase or decrease the size of images shown in the Album
Pane, although the default mid
position of the slider suits the program best.
Picasa's interface focuses on six major
operations: Collections, Import, Timeline, Slideshow, Edit
Picture and Search. Clicking the Collection button brings
a drop down menu with options that you can apply to your
collections such as sort albums and create or remove new
collections and albums in the Collection Pane. You can
also rename any album directly by double clicking on it.
Clicking on Import will enable the
program to look for devices attached to your PC and
retrieve images from, for instance, a digital camera. As
the images are downloaded, the Import Tray fills and you
can see the preview of each image on the right-hand side.
In case you did disable the Media Detector from startup,
then this is how one can import them manually from the
Use Timeline and its Flash-like
interface to browse through all your albums in a
chronological order. The transition effects used here are
very cool. Double click on any album to start a slideshow
once you locate your desired album.
Clicking on Sideshow lets one see all
the pictures in the selected album, auto transiting from
one to another. A single click during the slideshow shows
a set of options at the bottom where you can set
transition lapse between each photo or navigate using the
Search, which is self explanatory, lets
you re-search your whole hard drive and add new albums to
your collection. One can also change the options to
customize the search.
The major operation of editing pictures, which can be a
hassle, is one of the simplest features of the program.
The result is not as good as one would get in Adobe
Photoshop but should suffice for most users. Choose the
image you wish to edit and click the Edit Picture button
to view the options.
Picasa offers three sets of tools that
one can apply to the selected image. The Red Eye option
will automatically fix the red coloring of pupils, which
is apparent in film-developed photos. Use the mouse to
click on each eye and apply the effect. The Crop option is
quite effective; highlight any area of the image and the
rest will be cropped. You can also use photo size
standards such as 4x6, 5x7 or 8x10 inches to auto crop the
Lastly, the Enhance option will
automatically adjust the color and contrast of the current
image. However, I hardly found any difference before and
after applying the effect. The Enhance option needs a lot
of improvement and is as good as not being there!
To sum it up, Picasa does an excellent
job as a freeware and deserves high praise. It is not the
best software in the category such as Adobe Photoshop
Album 2.0 or similar programs, but if you want a hassle-
free, easy-to-use interface, then you can't go wrong with