Picasa Tip: What happened to Sharpen?

If you’ve been following the Tips here, you probably use the Sharpen feature of Picasa.  With a single click it makes your digital photos look a lot crisper.  It can’t take an out of focus picture and make it in focus, but it takes that soft look and makes it … sharper.  I use it on all my photos.

Geeks on  Tour Members can watch the Show-Me-How video on sharpen at:(Member Tutorial Video:Picasa’s 12 Effects)
I also wrote an article about why I like sharpen.

Sometime in this past month (May 2009) an update to Picasa changed the way Sharpen works.  They broke it!  Fortunately, they gave us a special ‘secret’ command to make it work the way it used to.

The secret?  Hold down the shift key as you click on sharpen.  You’ll see your photo get instantly sharper – just like it always has.  You will then need to click Apply to complete the process.

So, why did they ‘break’ it?  Here’s the official word from Google employees.  They say that they fixed a problem that it had before and, in the process made it much slower.  Well, most of us never noticed the problem it had before, but we sure notice the ‘much slower’ part now!

How it works now:
The Sharpen command now has a slider to make it more or less sharp.  The problem is that the slider is *very* non-responsive.  And, even if you slide it all the way to sharpest, we don’t see the results that we used to see.  You only see accurate results if you’re looking at your photo in 100% magnification.  Get to 100% by clicking the 1:1 button in the lower right corner.  But now, of course, you can’t see your whole picture.

Using the Batch Edit tool to sharpen seems to apply the new effect which is much less noticeable than it use to be.  I find myself using the secret Shift method to sharpen all my photos now.

Google says they’re working on it.

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.



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Chris is a teacher. Although she comes as close to an expert as possible in many areas of computer usage, she can still remember what it's like not to know these things! That means she can communicate with students in a way that teaches and doesn't demean. She really enjoys teaching one-on-one and for groups of people, but she reaches a worldwide audience with her tutorial videos on the GeeksOnTour.com website. She currently travels the country in an RV with her husband, Jim. As Geeks on Tour, they present computer seminars at RV rallies, computer clubs, and Senior Centers all over the US.

8 thoughts on “Picasa Tip: What happened to Sharpen?”

  1. Chris, thanks for keeping us up to date on wht’s going on. We haven’t let Picasa update itself recently, just put it off, I guss. We’ll watch for the change and then “shift” into gear!


  2. Thanks for the heads up. I do appreciate it. Hopefully we will get together few(remotely) to work some on some of my Picasa issues. What state are you in now? Must be nice traveling around. I live in a condo in New Jersey. John Hurley


  3. Thank you so much for this post, which I just found while trying to figure out WTF was up with my sharpening on Picasa. I thought it was an issue with my machine, not with the update. So glad to know the truth and the workaround.


    1. We now have a Google Voice number so we don’t have to give out our personal cell phone. Thanks for reminding me – I will put it on our website: 954-83-GEEKS


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