Captions or Text on Pictures?

I hope you all use captions on your pictures.  It’s probably my most-used feature of Picasa.  All you have to do is click below an open picture and type a few words.  You’re done!  Not only does that caption tell you a little about the picture, it is also searchable, so you can find that picture later by searching for any word in the caption.

Add a Caption to Every Picture

And, captions are stored right in the .jpg file itself, so wherever that picture goes – the caption will follow.  But, the caption can be hidden, you don’t need to see it if you don’t want to.  When playing a slide show, for example, you have the choice of showing the caption or hiding it.  You just click the little green checkmark to turn the caption display off.


Captions on Slideshows

The problem with captions is that you don’t have many options.  It’s just on or off.  You can’t specify where, what size, or what color.  And, most email programs don’t support captions.

Using the Text Tool

If you want to place some text on your picture at a certain spot, and you want everyone to see the text – even email recipients – then the Text tool is the way to go.

  • Double-click a picture in your library to open it in edit view
  • From the Basic Fixes tab at left, click the Text Tool 
  • Start typing … you will see your typing appear on the picture.  You can also choose to ‘copy caption’ if you want the same text that you already typed as a caption.
  • Move text:  When you see the gray border around your text, you can grab that border and drag your text to anywhere on the picture.  Once you click anywhere outside the text area, the gray border goes away and the text stays put.  To get the gray border back, just click on the text again.  You can also change the angle of the text by spinning the circular handle that appears when you mouse over the middle of the text.
  • Change fonts, size, colors: When you’re in ‘edit text’ mode, there are lots of controls in the left panel for changing fonts, sizes and colors.  You have control over the fill color as well as the outline.


Where is the Text Stored?

The text added to the picture is actually ‘stamped’ on to the picture when you email, print, export, or upload it.  It is stored as a Picasa Edit and, as such, can be undone or changed at any time unless you Save your edits.  Text added in this way is *not* searchable, so it does not replace captions.  I add captions to all my pictures and just use text for special purposes.

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 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.

24 thoughts on “Captions or Text on Pictures?”

  1. I can put captions on my pictures but when the page comes up to identify faces, I type the name below the face, then when I go to the next face picture the name of the previous disappears. How do I identify the faces and keep the names there?


    1. When you identify a face with a name, the whole face should go away. This because you’re looking at the ‘Unknown’ faces. Once you identify one, it goes into the Face album for that person. This is different from captions.


  2. Regarding your Beginners guide to Picassa which says that there are 2 hours of Tutorial this a book that you download and print? How do you order it?
    Will you be at the Tampa Bay RV Super Show 2011?
    This program drives me CRAZY!!
    Does it cover all of the topics that are listed when one hits Print…and it goes on for 9 pages?
    Are all of the ‘tips’ covered?
    Toooooo Many Questions??


    1. The Beginners Guide is just that … all the basic stuff – it does not cover *everything* but it will get you started on the right foot. You can order it online at The book includes about 2.5 hours of videos, our Learning Library has over 5 hours of videos on Picasa.
      Yes, we are at the Tampa Bay RV Super Show right now, but we’re not doing any Geeks on Tour stuff. Jim is working a booth for our RV Park as part of his winter work-camping job. He is in booth A35. Stop by, say hi!


  3. When I try to search or add a caption it keeps changing my text. It’s frustrating!

    For instance, when I enter “cat” it comes up “cata” or Peek comes out Pero.

    I changed the options to English Locale but it didn’t seem to do anything


  4. When showing slideshow, none of my captions are showing??????????
    In my home mode, they show, but google+ no captions are showing!!
    Any ideas?


    1. I’m afraid all I can tell you is ‘me too.’ I don’t know why they don’t give you the option to see captions in Google+ Photos slideshows. You can always view the album using the interface and captions show there.


      1. It’s because of WHERE Picassa stores that caption. I’ve tracked it down to the IPTC tac $I120 also known as Caption-Abstract. As far as I can tell just about nobody else uses that tag for captions which explains why you don’t see them in other applications. That other application is looking for your caption to be in a different tag.

        I understand that you can use the ExifTool to copy from one tag to another, but damn*d if I can figure out how – yet!


  5. I’d like to be able to save my text back to Windows. When I type on the photo on picasa however it does not save back to file on Windows. Do you know if there is anyway to do this?


  6. I have added text to photographs successfully in Picasa, such as “Photo by …..”. When I upload them to facebook the text is not there. Any suggestions. Thanks.


    1. My guess is because you have not saved the image. Once you save it in Picasa and then upload there is no reason why it should not have that problem. If the issue still persists try exporting the image to any folder and then upload from there.


  7. I used to be able to add captions to Picassa photos without any problem till about a month or two ago, which I now cannot do. There is a similar problem adding photos to google+, which leads me to believe there is a problem with either Google synchronization or its servers, as the latter problem is sporadic and not chronic by nature. I use a desktop system under Windows 7, and I do not experience any similar problem in facebook.


  8. We have a problem – we’re displaying some photo competition entries by schools; each comes with a slab of text describing the picture. This is fine when viewed on a computer – but on a phone, the text totally dominates the image. Other than removing all captions (which basically ruins the experience for all the schools who submitted) is there any way to switch captions off when viewed on a mobile?


      1. We are hoping to send it to around 200 teachers whose students contributed.
        We decided Picasa would be the best way to display the information using captions – so added all the photos; name of the school followed by a paragraph or so information about their activity. We had a word limit of 100 words – though many went over.
        As you can imagine; that’s a lot of captions.

        So when we view it on a mobile device – using an emailed link – the text appears over the photos. I think you can manually click a button when viewing an individual image and the text disappears; but then when you view the next image – it dominates again.


  9. How many pictures can stored in one album. Can they be shuffled. I want to use it as a project for childrens learning activity. Is there a list of picasa features, without going in too much detail. This will help me think of ideas for my project. Or can you suggest any other software to display information by pictures and test by shuffling pictures and asking class to name the description of the picture. Thanks


    1. Interesting project. The practical limit on number of pictures in an album is 2,000. No, they can’t be shuffled. But, in Picasa – on your computer (not in the cloud) you can drag pictures into different orders – or sort variously by name, date, size, or resolution.


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