Saving Faces When you Re-Install Picasa

Note: a more recent article on this topic can be found at Keep your People Named by Checking this Box.

Q: If I re-install Picasa and delete the old database, what happens to all the face tagging? I have spent a lot of time getting my ~10,000 pictures or so all tagged with named faces. It appears to be rescanning. How can I get back my name tags?

Quite some time ago, I wrote an article called, “Picasa Tip: When your pictures get “All Messed UP”.  In it I wrote about the scary things that you see in Picasa when its database gets corrupted.  This used to happen quite regularly. It doesn’t happen so much anymore, but there are still times you need to re-install Picasa and rebuild its database.  And now, with face recognition there are more issues.

In the article I detailed 2 procedures for fixing the corruption.  1. Delete the Picasa2 folder or 2. Open Picasa while holding down Alt/Ctrl/Shift.  The Alt/Ctrl/Shift method has been removed – I’m not sure when.  The delete the folder technique still works, but it is not the officially recognized method for dealing with the problem.  The Official method is to uninstall Picasa and reinstall it.  It is important to realize that, when you uninstall Picasa, you have the choice of deleting the database.  If you say Yes – which you need to do if you have a corrupt database – you will be deleting an important part of the face recognition information.

Prevent Losing Name Tags by Synchronizing

If you use Google’s Contacts (e.g. for Gmail) and you have set the option in Picasa to ‘Sync with Contacts’, then you’re all set.  Picasa will be able to recreate your nametags.  This setting is located on the Tools Menu, People Manager. Read more about Sync’ing Name tags and Google Account contacts.  If you didn’t have that set, then you’ll need a backup of a Picasa file called contacts.xml.  Read on to understand why.

Saving Faces

The face recognition part of Picasa is a bit complex.  The information that says, ‘this picture includes a face’ is stored in the hidden picasa.ini file that is located in the same folder as the picture. Deleting the database will not touch this information – it’s in the picture folders. But, the information that says, ‘that face is Harry Jones’ is stored in a file called contacts.xml which is located in the user configuration/database folders for Picasa (e.g. )

The identity of the faces in your pictures is stored in the Contacts folder within the Picasa2 folder.  It’s a file called contacts.xml.  These folders are hidden – you need to turn on the ability to see hidden folders in order to see them.  From Windows Explorer: Tools, Folder Options, View, Advanced Settings, Show Hidden Files, Folders or Drives.

So – if you uninstall Picasa, and choose to ‘delete the database’, you will be deleting the entire Picasa2 folder, including the contacts.  When you re-install it, that PIcasa2 folder and database configuration gets rebuilt.  Picasa uses the information in the picasa.ini files in each folder in order to rebuild the database.  EXCEPT the identification of the people.  If you made a copy of your contacts.xml file before uninstalling – you can get that back by simply copying your backup and pasting it into the Picasa2 folder.

Saving Albums

When you create albums in Picasa, you are just building a list of pointers to the pictures you want to show in the album.  That list of pointers is kept in a set of configuration files located at:

The Picasa2Albums folder does not get deleted when you choose to delete the database upon Uninstalling Picasa.  So, when you reinstall, your albums should come right back.  I still make a backup copy of the Picasa2Albums folder just in case.

Step-by-Step Uninstall Picasa and Save Faces

To make sure this works as I say, I used my Netbook computer that has a few thousand pictures, 54 ‘Blue icon’ Albums, and 48 identified face albums.  It is not sync’ed to any Google account Contacts – all people were manually created in Picasa.  Here’s what I did:

  1. Backed up the contacts.xml file, Backed up the Picasa2Albums folder.
  2. Uninstalled Picasa.  I clicked on Start, All Programs and found the Picasa folder, there is an option there for ‘Uninstall Picasa.’  Be sure to say Yes to deleting the database as part of the uninstall.  Remember – the reason you’re probably doing this is that the database is corrupted!
  3. Re-installed Picasa.  Go to www.picasa.google.com and click the button to Download Picasa.  Then choose Run to install it.
  4. Opened Picasa and let it re-scan.  Choose, Scan My Pictures, My Documents, This can take a while – sometimes hours.
  5. Restored the Contacts.xml file.  This is the key to getting your faces back.  After step 4, I saw all 48 of my face albums listed, but each face was labeled <Unknown Person>  I copied the Contacts folder that I backed up in step 1, and pasted it into the Picasa2 folder.  Nothing happened immediately, but when I looked again after about 15 minutes People’s names were starting to show up.  I left it alone all night and when I looked in the morning, all my faces had names.
  6. Note: my albums all came back in step 4.  I didn’t have to do anything.  The Picasa2Albums folder was still in the location where it had always been.

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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People Albums: Viewing Faces or Entire Picture

Naming faces

Using Tags aka Keywords

 

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Albums vs. Tags

Albums and Tags are both methods of identifying and grouping your photos.  Any given picture can be marked to appear in many Albums.  And, any given picture can have many tags (aka keywords.)  See last week’s article on Tags. The main difference is that Tags are bits of data that are stored with the picture itself and Albums are a creation of Picasa.  You can even see Tags while browsing your pictures in Windows My Pictures.  It works the other way too.  Tags entered using Windows will be useable in Picasa.  Tags are stored with the picture just like the date taken is stored with the picture.

Here’s how tags show up in Windows Explorer:

I love Picasa’s Album feature, but it makes me nervous.  You see, albums are a creation of Picasa alone.  They are easy to lose because the information about a picture belonging to an album is not stored with the picture.  It’s stored in a separate database file, buried in the user Profile, called a .pal file.  If something gets messed up with your Albums, you can use a backup of the .pal file to get them back.  There are lots of messages in the user forum like this message which discusses how to get albums restored.  It is not a simple matter.

Use Albums *and* Tags

Here’s how I do it.  Once I’ve created an album, I’ll select all the pictures in that album and assign a tag.  Now I have the best of both worlds, I have the album in Picasa which can be used just like a folder, but if I should delete that album, I can still find and group all the pictures by searching for the tag.

For example, let’s say I have an album for all the photos I’ve ever taken in Utah.  I use that album to play slideshows.  I will also select all the pictures in the album and apply a tag ‘Utah.’  You do that by clicking on ‘Tags’ in the lower right corner (or shortcut Ctrl-T) typing Utah, and press Enter.

When I tire of playing the Utah slideshow I might delete the Album ‘Utah’, secure in the knowledge that I could re-create it at any time just by searching for ‘Utah.’  My search results will find all the pictures tagged with Utah.  ‘Search results’ is actually a temporary album – that temporary album can now be used just like any other album.  You can play a slideshow from the temporary album.  Or, you can select all pictures in the temporary album and add them to a new, permanent album.

Unique Tags

Be aware that your search might find the word ‘Utah’ in other places besides the tags.  Search uses filenames, captions, and folder names and descriptions as well.  If you really want the tag to be used just to re-create this exact album, you’ll need a unique tag like, “utah-album.”  Also make sure there are no spaces or commas.  Although you can have multi-word tags, if there is a space – search will treat each word separately and you’ll still end up with more than you wanted.

Show Tag as Album

There is also an experimental tool that, with one click, will display a tag as an album.  It’s Tools / Experimental / Show Tag as Album.  When you use this, the album will show up on the very top of the Album list (left side of library) as a green – Picasa generated – album.

If any of you have used this ‘Show Tag as Album’ feature, please leave a comment to tell us if it worked well for you.

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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Gift CDs and Temporary Albums

I’ve had a couple questions this week about making Gift CDs.  The readers had photos scattered throughout their computer’s folders and they wanted to burn them as a group to a CD to give to someone else.  The Gift CD process is very quick and simple:

  1. Select the folder or album with the photos
  2. Click the Create menu, then Create a Gift CD
  3. It will tell you if your selection will fit on the CD
    image
  4. You can include more folders or albums by clicking the ‘Add More…’ button.
  5. When you’ve selected all you want, click Burn Disc.

The resulting CD will have all the pictures – the edited versions – and it will automatically play a slideshow after being inserted into a computer’s CD/DVD drive.

The point of this article is how you can use Albums to collect all the photos you want to group together.  You *don’t* need all the pictures to be in a folder.  Anything you can do with a folder, you can do with an album.  Think of albums as ‘virtual folders.’

Now, here’s the really cool part … temporary albums.  Any time you search for something the search results can be shown as a temporary album.  With the temporary album selected, you can play a slideshow, create a collage or a movie with all the pictures in the temporary album.  You can also Export, Upload, Email, Shop, or anything you can do with pictures in the selection tray.

image

One thing you cannot do with a temporary album is create a Gift CD.  But, not to worry, you can simply create an Album from the pictures selected in the temporary album.  After burning the Gift CD – you can simply delete the Album you created.

http://content.screencast.com/users/ChrisGuld/folders/Showme-Picasa/media/a8b90da7-dfa2-4b1e-acd4-77ed51f82eb7/pic342_tempalbum_controller.swf

 

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.

Members may want to view the following tutorial videos.  Not a member?  Join now.

Searching for Pictures

Starring Pictures

Using Albums for Organizing

Using Tags aka Keywords

Using Search to Create a Temporary Album

 

Picasa Tip: Use Albums

If you go to the Grand Canyon in the summer of 2008, do you put the pictures in a folder called Grand Canyon? Or a folder called Summer 2008?

How about when you return to the Canyon in 2009? Do you put them in with your other Grand Canyon photos, or make a new Summer 2009. If you make a Summer 2009 folder, how can you see a slide show of all your Grand Canyon photos? Whatever you do, DO NOT make copies of the pictures so they can be in a Grand Canyon folder and a Summer 2009 folder. That quickly becomes a mess.

You don’t need to organize your pictures into lots of different folders. Just keep it simple, all pictures into one folder for the year – or, if you take enough, put them into folders by month.

Picasa has this magical feature called Albums. An album is like a virtual folder. You can go thru all your pictures and find the photos of your dog, marking them for a ‘dog’ album. You haven’t moved the pictures, you haven’t copied them, you’ve just created a list of pointers to them so they are all grouped in one place. That place is called an Album.

Select the photos, then click the 'Add to Album' button
Select the photos, then click the ‘Add to Album’ button.

Once a group of photos has been marked in an album, you can now create a Gift CD with all the photos in the album, you can make a movie, or a slideshow, export them or upload them all at once.

So, don’t organize your photos into a lot of separate folders. And, definitely don’t make extra copies of them to put in different folders. Just make one simple folder structure – I put all photos into a folder for the month they were taken. This also makes it a simple matter to back up my photos. I do it every month and I just back up the folder for that month.

Then, you can create as many different Albums as you want. One picture of my dog, Odie, in June of 2008 will be stored in the folder 200806. But, it could show up in an Album called ‘Odie’, another album called ‘Minnesota’, and a third called ‘Dogs.’ The picture only exists once on my computer – in the folder. You can view it in that folder, as well as in all three Albums. The albums are magical creations – the photos don’t really exist there. I can delete a photo from an album but it still exists in the folder and whatever other albums I may have grouped it in. However, if I delete the photo from the folder … It’s gone.

Albums are wonderful creations, but you also need to understand that they are a creation of Picasa alone. If you ever need to use some other program to see your pictures, the albums won’t be there.

Geeks on Tour Members can also view the following tutorial videos to learn more:

Using Albums
Picasa 3: Folders
Picasa 3: Search for pictures
Picasa 3: Selecting Pictures
Picasa 3: Starrred Photos
Preparing photos for other programs with Export