Picasa Set Up & First Use

Assignment:   Set up Picasa with various albums to sort pictures from different shooting assignments

Goals:             Prepare Picasa for daily use, Manage photos for projects and contests, manage pictures for upload to PicasaWeb Gallery for Proof of Life Gallery Checks.

Tools:              Picasa and digital photos


Note: Why use Picasa when there are so many alternatives? Truly, there are many good programs, with more on the way. But after a lengthy personal investigation of the best software out there, Picasa gets my Two Thumbs Up...WAY UP!! If you would like to know more about why I chose Picasa for the students, continue to bottom of this page.




* Picasa is already installed on the school computers. Skip to the next section if you are in the classroom.

  1. Download Picasa from Google.

  2. Start the Install, following prompts, but... (see next step)

  3. Proceed to the next section BEFORE clicking on any prompts on first launch to avoid any mistakes.



  1. Put all of your pictures in one folder on your 'C Drive' (My Documents/DropBox/Pictures). That folder can have many folders of pictures...but all of the folders should be in a folder called "Your Photos" where "Your" is your name. If you are setting this up at home, your pictures should go in the "My Pictures", but if the pictures are located somewhere else, step 3 & 4below will help you find them and get Picasa to know where they are. Remember: Be sure you have a folder on your school computer that is called "Your Pictures" where YOUR is your NAME!

  2. When you first launch Picasa for the first time, in school or at home, it will ask you where to scan for your pictures. Check the 2nd, lower option...the one that will scan only your Desktop, Documents, and "My Pictures" etc.If you are uncertain where all you have inadvertantly stored pictures, you can click the top option to scan the entire computer, but it ends up scanning and finding things that are pictures, but not by you. You can always remove them, and as you will see in the next step, change what is scanned.

  3. If you have pictures stored on external drivers, or you computer has multiple drives, once Picasa is open, go to Tools, Folder Manager and find your drives listed out along the left side and expand it until you see "Your Picture" folder(s). Click on "Scan Always". And any other locations that you have stored pictures. See Below for instructions on setting up the Folder Manager.

  4. Check to make sure the "C:" drive does not have a green check mark by it. If it does, then click the "C:" drive and click "Remove from Picasa"

  5. You can add any other folders that you want or remove any folders you don't want to show up in Picasa.


Putting Picasa to Use:

After you are done, it is time to make some Albums and Star your Favorites.

  1. Make a Darkroom Album for the photos that are BY you...call it "Darkroom Photos". You will make another album called "2013-11-28 PDP 3: Wildlife". For the portrait shooting (2nd semester), also make an album for pictures OF you...call it "My Portrait" or "Picture OF me".

  2. Later, in January, make a Portrait Album for the photos that are BY you...call it "Portraits BY me" or "PDP 3: Wildlife". For the portrait shooting (2nd semester), also make an album for pictures OF you...call it "My Portrait" or "Picture OF me".

  3. If you have a LOT of pictures for any given shoot, make an album called "... selected". For example, if I have a gallery called 2011-08-11 Colorado Trip" and it has 3,000 photos in it. I might want to make an ALBUM called "2011-08-11 Colorado Select" to place my favs from that trip.

  4. Make additional albums for your various shooting topics. For example: Make a gallery for your Topic 3 & 4 (4th 6 weeks) shooting...call it "4th 6 PDP"

  5. Star your favorites as you look through your pictures. You can make another album of your favorites and/or special topics.


Other Topics:

Using Picasa to create a Picasa Web Album - Provide Proof of Life for Projects and Develop a portfolio of your best work

Using Picasa to print a Contact Sheet - if internet access is not available at home, a Contact Sheet can be printed if necessary. However, the thumbnail size prevents proper selection.

Using Picasa to burn a Photo CD - useful to be able to give pictures from a shoot to a friend, or to transport pictures to or from school.

Picasa Keyboard Shortcuts: http://picasa.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=11139



NOTE: RE: Picasa...if you are Scanning "Misc_Pictures" on the Public folder, please UNselect it as a "Scan Always" folder changing it to "Remove from Picasa" and select ONLY the CURRENT year of "Pictures OF Students" or other SELECTED folders photos. Do NOT scan "Loker's Photos" folder...there are 50,000 + photos. If you want to LOOK through those folders, us WinXP browser. Do NOT use Picasa to SCAN "Misc Pictures". 1. There are too many pictures in there...causing you to loose YOUR photos. 2. I keep changing the folders around...which is going to cause Picasa to loose it big time! There are 24,000+ photos in Misc pictures alone. Please do NOT scan all of Misc_Pictures...just the current year like 2011-2012 (note...even limiting it to just one year will result in an inordinate amount of pictures scanned. You may click on any given folder on the left side and select "remove from Picasa".



Note 2: Why use Picasa when there are so many alternatives? (Continued from above)

One of the neat things about teaching to use Picasa is that this program is freely available for your home use via a free download from Google. It is a small, simple and benign program that will use little space on your computer other than the pictures you have taken. Numerous people question each year why I insist on this specific software. One, is so that I can help. It is what I support, and what we will be using IN the classroom toward the end of the 3rd 6 weeks and 2nd semester. So, it is helpful to have smooth integration between the home and school. But, secondly because it is what I believe to be as one of the best pieces of software available, even when comparing commercial programs. I do use other software for both management and processing. And, like any tool box, some tools are better than others for a given task. Like, there are many types of hammers. Tack hammers, Claw Hammers, Mallets, and even Nail Guns, etc. Photoshop is great at some things, but NikonCapture NX is the absolute best when it comes to custom "dodging and burning" because of it's unique Control Points.  And although Picasa is no substitute for an image editing program like Photoshop, it actually is a very easy and efficient way of putting work online. The bottom line is than in 9 years of managing photos, I have learned a lot and tried a lot programs. I have bought programs I no longer use. I have some software that I use for processing larger numbers of photos (like the nail gun), but other software for when I am working one specific image at a time. While it is true that my assessment of some programs may be based on older versions, I believe that Picasa remains a leader in the "free" software category with an EXCELLENT integration to the online component. One point in case is the use of Apple computer and iPhoto. For many years, Picasa did not even exist for the Mac. On the other hand, iPhoto is essentially a watered down version of Picasa. Eventually, Picasa was released for the Mac...and this is a good thing. There is no doubt that iPhoto, like Windows Media PhotoGallery, are useful programs. especially since the come bundled with the computer. Unfortunately, especially with the iPhoto, Apple skips a few key controls. In fact, Apple tends to lag behind in it's software. Eventually, Apple has released key features, but it is after it appeared in other apps first. Anyway, bottom line is, try to be coachable, and trust that I have done my homework on this. :-) And, if you STILL don't believe me, do the research yourself: http://onemansblog.com/2009/01/07/a-direct-comparison-of-picasa-for-mac-vs-iphoto/ - This guy's bottom line after a lengthy review? "I hope that all of you Mac users out there give Picasa a serious try. You’ve got nothing to lose since, unlike iPhoto, it won’t lock you in or make irreversible changes to your photo library."