Your Pictures in the Cloud? Using Google+ Photos with Android and iOS

imageMany of us are using smartphones and tablets as our primary cameras these days. And, many of you may not even have a computer – finding that the smartphones and tablets meet all your computing needs. But what to do with all those pictures? I know that a lot of you just keep taking pictures until one day, your phone displays a message that it is full and it can’t take any more. Now what?

Even if you do have a computer, you may find that storing your pictures in the cloud is more convenient. If you don’t have a computer, it’s the only way to get them off your phone and into more permanent storage.

Don’t get me wrong. I do have a computer, and I love Picasa – the computer software. I will keep importing the pictures from my phone and tablet to my computer, and using Picasa for organizing, editing, and uploading/sharing them. I just want to recognize that there is another way to do things now, and one future day, it may be the only way.

1. Upload Pictures from devices to the Cloud

The easiest way to do this with Google+ is to install the Google+ App on your phone or tablet, then turn on the option called “Auto Backup.” I wish they had named it “Auto-Upload” instead of Auto Backup because something called “Backup” implies that there is a way to “Restore” your system to how it was when you backed it up. That is not what this does. What Auto Backup does is to notice every photo taken by the camera app on your device (smartphone or tablet, Android or Apple) and automatically upload it to your account in Google+.

After installing the app, find the Settings option and turn Auto Backup on. Then there are options for the size of the uploaded photos and the connection used to upload them.

  1. Size for uploading: choose between
    -Full Size: uploads the fullsize original picture. Use this if you need the original resolution but realize that it will be using up your storage allotment in Google+
    -Standard Size: downsizes your photos to no more than 2048 pixels. This is plenty big enough for any viewing on a computer and it enables the unlimited free storage option for Google+
  2. Connection used for Uploading
    -Over Wi-Fi or mobile network: this will use your data plan (mobile network such as Verizon or AT&T) If you have a limited plan, you could incur substantial charges
    -Over Wi-Fi only: this will only upload your pictures when your device is connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot. We assume that the Wi-Fi is free
  3. Delete the photos from your phone or tablet. This is a decision for you to make, but realize if you never delete pictures that you take with your phone or tablet, it will fill up.

2. View the Cloud Pictures from your device

The Google+ App on your phone or tablet will allow you to view all the photos that were uploaded to your account. You can also select pictures to be organized into Albums, so you can then browse pictures by album. As long as you have a data connection on your phone or tablet, you can view all your photos online – no need to have them on your phone.


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Every week Geeks on Tour presents a free web-show where we explore features and uses of smartphones and Tablets. Episode #19 will focus on your pictures in the cloud. It will air live this Sunday, November 9 at 2pm Eastern time. If you watch it live, you will be able to leave comments that we will answer on air. If you don’t watch it live, it is recorded as a Youtube video and will be available below. To get the links for watching live or later,  see our Geeks on Tour Weekly Show page.


Picasa’s Folder Manager, What Every User Needs to Know

picasa-fldrThis is probably the number one, most basic, most important thing to know about PIcasa and yet, the great majority of Picasa users don’t have a clue!  On our website we have over 90 tutorial videos on using Picasa. I think the one on Folder Manager may be the most important one, so I’m making it free for anyone to watch here:

The other day, I was helping a friend look at some pictures which were sent to her via email. First I showed her how to get them from her email program to her computer’s filing system. I told her to just right-click and download the pictures, then navigate to the C:My Pictures folder and make a new folder there to store them. She told me no, she was now keeping all pictures in the C:OneDrivePictures folder because she likes how OneDrive backs everything up to the Cloud.

OK, Fine. The pictures she received in an email are now in her C:OneDrivePicturesMountainPics folder.

The best way to view pictures is by using Picasa … DUH! So we opened Picasa, but those new MountainPIcs weren’t there. In fact, none of her recent pictures – stored in the C:OneDrivePictures folder were there. This made perfect sense to me because I understand Picasa’s Folder Manager. We just had to tell Picasa about this new location for photos.

  • Tools->Folder Manager
  • Find the C:OneDrivePictures folder and click on it
  • Click the blue arrow for “Scan Always”
  • OK

Now we see the mountain pics, and all other picturess in the C:OneDrivePictures folder.

To learn everything there is to know about Picasa, become a member of Geeks On Tour and watch nearly 10 hours of tutorial videos on Picasa alone!

Store your Pictures on an External Hard Drive

imageI’ve been taking digital photos since 1998, and I’ve scanned many old family photos from before that. It’s over 50,000 pictures total. That’s nearly 200 GB of storage space needed. I like having all of my pictures available for searching with Picasa. When I ask Picasa to look for “sunset” I see 234 pictures in the results. The most recent picture is from last week, and the oldest picture is from April 2001. And, I got those results in a fraction of a second! Does that mean that all my pictures are on my computer’s internal hard drive?


Most of them are on a USB external hard drive. My new laptop computer is a Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro. It’s sleek and it’s fast, it uses a solid state hard drive, you may have seen it designated as SSD. That means the hard drive is more like a flash drive than a traditional computer hard drive. That keeps it light and very fast. BUT, it’s small. Where computer hard drives were getting up to a standard size of 400 GB or more, my computer’s hard drive is only 220 GB. If I put all my pictures on it, I wouldn’t have room for anything else.

Picasa Can Watch Your USB Hard Drive

Here’s how I do it. I only keep the last year’s worth of pictures on my computer. Over 48,000 of my pictures, are on a 500 GB USB External hard drive. Then I use Picasa’s Folder manager to watch them there. (see Tutorial Video: Folder Manager #233) Think of it like Picasa is ‘spanning’ your computer and the attached USB drive to give you your complete photo library.

This is different from a backup on hard drive. A backup set are pictures that are stored safely away in a cupboard and only touched when you’re making a new backup. These are the pictures I am working with on a day-to-day basis. Some of them got there originally by copying from old backup disks even before I used Picasa. And, some of them got there from Picasa’s “Move Folder” command. (see Tutorial Video: pics19.Move Folders of Pictures to an External Drive membership required)

  At the end of each year, I move each folder of pictures from the computer to the External hard drive. You simply right-click on the folder using Picasa, and choose “Move Folder …” When prompted where to move it to I navigate to my hard drive and the Pictures folder.


Assign a Letter to your Hard Drive

There is one issue with this process and that is when you unplug, and re-plug in your USB hard drive. When you unplug the drive, Picasa can’t see the pictures. No problem, they just disappear from your library. When you plug the USB drive back in, you want them to instantly re-appear. That is exactly what will happen, IF the USB drive has the same drive letter as the last time it was plugged in. This may or may not be the case depending on what other drives you have connected. If it has a different drive letter than the last time, Picasa thinks it’s a different drive, and it will re-scan it, taking lots of time.  The way to be sure that it has the same drive letter is to use your Windows Drive Manager to assign a permanent letter, like P – for Picasa! Here’s a video that shows you how.

Teaching Picasa to your Computer Club or Photo Group

Computer Clubs are great ways to learn! We wanted to share with you how Google+ Hangouts on Air allows us to present a seminar remotely and then automatically have it recorded as a Youtube video.

As we travel the country in our RV, we often pass thru the corner of Iowa/Illinois referred to as the Quad Cities and we’ll give a live presentation to the Quad Cities Computer Society. We were there in June and presented a seminar we call “What is Cloud Computing” to the general meeting of the whole club. The people involved in the digital photography  SIG (special interest group) then wanted to know – “How do we use the Cloud for our photos with Picasa?” So we agreed to give a follow up seminar to their next monthly meeting where we would answer questions. The problem is that we would be a couple thousand miles away by then! So, we used Google+ Hangouts on Air to do the presentation. Since it is recorded, we can also share it with you! If you are interested in a Geeks on Tour presentation to your club, use the Contact Us form.

To watch the entire presentation will take you about an hour. I have gone thru it and marked the places where certain topics start so you can click on those links and get straight to the point.

  1. Watch the seminar starting at the beginning (well, actually, this starts after the few minutes of technical difficulties with sound.)
  2. Start at 7m22s:  Using Dropbox Camera Uploads
  3. Start at 15m37s: Autobackup Discussion
  4. Start at 29m38s: Question about Ordering Prints
  5. Start at 38m29s: Question about Making Movies with PIctures and Music
  6. Start at 43m16s: Question about Resizing Pictures
  7. Start at 56m23s: Demo of Picasa Web Albums vs. Google+ Photos


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.

Viewing Pictures on a Map

We take hundreds of pictures every month and, since we live in an RV, we are constantly traveling. I might look at this picture and have no idea where we were when it was taken. If I’m lucky, the photo includes location information, then Picasa, or Google+ Photos can display the picture on a map:

I may not remember where this picture was taken just by looking at it.
If the photo contains location information (GPS latitude/longitude) then Picasa can show me a map


How does a Picture get Geotagged?

If your camera is equipped with a GPS, there is a setting that allows the camera to tag pictures with that location information. This is most common with smartphone cameras. For example, on my Samsung Galaxy S5 phone, when I’m using the camera, I can tap the gear icon for Settings, find the Location setting and turn it on. If that setting is on, then you will be able to view the picture’s location on a map using Picasa, or Google+ Photos.  You need to check this setting often because when you turn off your phone’s GPS, this setting also turns off and you need to manually turn it back on. If your camera does not geotag for you, you can use Picasa to manually set the location information using the Places Pane. (Geeks on Tour members can view the tutorial video on Geotagging)

2014-07-18 15.15.21

2014-07-18_9-27-41When this picture is imported to your computer and you see it in Picasa’s library, you will notice a red location marker icon in the lower right image. When you see that icon showing on a picture’s thumbnail, it means you can click the same icon in the lower right of Picasa’s screen and the Places Pane will open at the right of your screen. The map that shows here is Google Maps and it comes from the Internet, so this will only work if your computer is online.

When you share your picture to Google+ online, you can click on the picture, click on ”Photo Details” at the right and see a map. If Location data is not stored with the picture, you will see a link to “Add a Location” then you can manually drop a pin on a map to indicate the location of the picture.







Picasa Web Albums Map View

Picasa Web Albums still has the best way of viewing pictures on a map. To get to your uploaded pictures and view them with the old Picasa Web Albums interface, use this link: Now you’re viewing the same albums as with Google+ Photos, but with the older Picasa Web Albums tools. When you click on an album and look to the right, you should see a map image called “Photo Locations.” There is a link below the map to “View Map” which will show you a map with the pictures showing as little thumbnails right in place on the map.

I love 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, orbecome a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

Picasa Tip: Picture Sort Order, Folder Sort Order

If you’ve ever played card games, you understand the need to sort in different ways. Let’s say you’re playing Gin Rummy and you’re dealt 10 cards. For one hand you might want to sort them by suit, in another, you might sort them by their face/number. With cards in your hand, you have to manually move the cards around to get them in the order you want. With computer files, that manual labor is a simple click. There are many times in computer usage that a list of items can be sorted one way or another. With computer files, you might want to see them in order by filename. At another time you might want to see them in order by creation date. And for yet another reason, you might want to see them in descending order by size. Any of those choices is a simple click of your mouse on the sort order you desire.

Pictures are just files to the computer, and Picasa is just your tool for managing those files. Anything your computer can do in regards to sorting files, Picasa can do with your pictures.


Folders are the containers for the picture files and they have dates and names as well. To sort your list of folders you click on the dropdown arrow at the top of the list and select the sort order you want. You can also use the Folder menu –>Sort by –> Name/Date/Size/Reverse Order. If you want to change the name or date of a folder, simply double-click on it. You’ll now be looking at the Folder Properties and you can change the name or date to whatever you want, then click OK.


Sorting Pictures within Folders

Each folder, just like each player in a card game, can have their pictures sorted in different ways. To sort the pictures within a folder, right click on the folder (either in the left column, or at the top of the library) and choose the sort order you want.


Notice the choices: Name, Date, Size, and Reverse order. One click at any time on ‘Name’ will sort your pictures alphabetically by their filename. That filename is the name used by your camera. Digital cameras assign filenames in a sequence like IMG-1060.jpg, IMG-1061.jpg, IMG-1062.jpg etc. Whenever you select a picture, you can see its Name, Date and Size on the blue status bar at the bottom of the library. That is the information used for sorting. You can change a file’s name with File->Rename, or F2. You can change a file’s date with Tools->Adjust Date and Time.


Manual Sort Order is Fleeting

Picasa has one more option, and that is to drag the pictures into a manual order that you want. The problem is, that order is only understood by Picasa. Let’s say you manually dragged pictures into a custom order using Picasa. When you exit Picasa and look at those pictures using your File Manager – they will not be in that order. They will be in order by Name, Date, or Size, because those are the only properties stored with the picture. When you open Picasa again, the pictures will be in your manual order, but one click on Sort Folder by Name, Date, or Size, and your manual order is lost.

TipF: If you Export a group of manually sorted pictures, you can check the box to “Add numbers to file names to preserve order.” That way, the exported copies of the pictures will have filenames starting with number that keep them in the order you arranged manually. Now, sorting By Name, they will be in your custom order.

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.

Your Pictures on a Timeline

You’re probably accustomed to seeing your picture folders in date order at the left navigation bar in Picasa, but did you know you can view the photos themselves on a timeline?  While in library view, use the View menu and select Timeline and you’ll see something like this:


In a very condensed format, you can see the complete range of dates for your pictures.  In my sample case the earliest date shows as November 1936.  These are scanned photos where I manually set the date!  And the latest date is March 2014.  Simply drag the slider and you can see thumbnails of pictures from folders in every date in between.  Then, you have choices of playing a slide show by double-clicking on a folder,  or going back to your library with the button, or by pressing Esc.  You will be dropped off in the library viewing pictures from the time that was last selected in the timeline.

Google+ Photos now has a Timeline

If you have been uploading your pictures to Picasa Web Albums, or Google+ Photos (it’s the same set of albums – just different interfaces) you now can find pictures by date there too.  To get to your photos in Google+, browse to and login.  This only works in “Highlight” view. At the right side of your screen, you should see an icon of the current month .  Just hover your mouse over that and it will open up a complete calendar of Years and Months for all the photos you have ever uploaded.  Click on any year/month combination and you will be taken to the highlight of photos from that month.

g photos-calendar


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.