Picasa, I Love You … Now Change!

Dear Picasa,

You know I love you, I’ve told thousands of people about you – and they love you too.  But I have a suggestion for improvement.  As you’ve grown, and as my library of pictures has grown, there is one area that I believe needs a redesign – the Collections sidebar.  I’m talking about the left side of the screen when viewing the Library.

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The Collections Sidebar needs a Redesign

Many people have mistakenly deleted their precious pictures because they’re confused about the difference between Albums and Folders.  And others have completely lost whole groups of pictures because they were in a collection that had scrolled off the screen at the bottom – so they re-imported the pictures – now they have so many duplicates!  Then there’s the projects, like collages, which seemingly disappear when you choose Tree View

Don’t get me wrong, you have some incredibly powerful and useful organizational tools.  I love albums, people, and the ability to sort folders by date.  But having all of these features lumped into the left sidebar with overlapping visuals is *way* too confusing.  Add to that the fact that all the features of that sidebar change if you click the Tree View button, and we see chaos.  Most people don’t even know what the Tree View button is, let alone what it does and why it makes all the other collections disappear.

Use Tabs

Some people consider me an expert in using Picasa (there are actually many who are much more expert than I, I just teach a lot of people), but even I get lost and confused as I try to navigate my thousands of pictures using your Collections sidebar.  I think it’s time to break it up into tabs – just like the Editing sidebar.  And the default tab should be Folders in Tree View – using the manila folder icon, and sorted alphabetically just like the default view in Windows Explorer.  Then, it might be a lot more clear that Picasa doesn’t change the folder structure that exists on the computer.  It would look something like the following … and notice all the screen space (just above the folder list) for other options and explanations!  That space could be used to explain albums when using the Album tab, and Faces on the People tab.

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Tired of Beating my Head Against a Wall

Picasa has become our most popular topic as we teach computer classes to travelers all over the country.  One of the sessions this summer had 740 people in the live audience, plus 420 online!  We Iove the Oooohs and Aaaahs that come from the crowd when I show them how to make a crooked picture straight, a dark picture light, or make a collage of dozens of face-shots of one person with a single click.  But I’m starting to get very irritable when explaining, for the thousandth time, that “Picasa does not store, copy, move, or rearrange your pictures!  It is just your tool for working with the pictures in your My Pictures folder.”  No matter how many ways I’ve come up with to explain it, how many times I demonstrate, or how many different analogies I use, people don’t get it.  They still complain that Picasa ‘puts their pictures all over the place.’

You can’t always believe your eyes

After explaining it for the 1,010th time, and still seeing that glazed over look in my students’ eyes, I realize that it is impossible for them to get it.  Why?  Because they believe what their eyes tell them, not what my words say.  And, their eyes are seeing a jumble of different folders, albums and collections like the screen shot at the top.

What you can do now

My bet is that the next version of Picasa will show a different way to view folders, albums, and collections.  If not exactly like the model I propose, then something even better.  But, till then, what can you do to make the Collections sidebar a little more manageable?  My recommendation is to collapse all but the Folders collection, *and* to display that in Tree View.  This is the closest approximation to seeing your folders as Explorer (or Finder for Mac) shows them.  Then, whenever you want to use Albums – expand that collection, then collapse it when you’re done.  Here’s what it looks like:

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Leave a Comment

Please leave a comment whether you agree, or disagree, with this article.  Do you have trouble navigating your pictures using the left sidebar in Picasa?  Or, do you especially like the way it is now?  Do you have any suggestions or requests on how to change 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.

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

Folders and Folder Collection

Tree Folder Structure

Library View

Folder Manager


 

 

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Where did my Pictures Go?

I’ve heard many people say they don’t know where Picasa puts their pictures.  I’m here to tell you that Picasa only puts pictures where *you* tell it to.  If you don’t tell it what folder to import your pictures to, they don’t get imported.

Here is Picasa’s Import screen.

importscreen

It gives you two places to specify where you want the pictures to be.

  1. Import to:
  2. Folder title:

Notice that, until you specify something in these boxes, you cannot import your pictures.  the ‘Import all’ and ‘Import Selected’ buttons are grayed out.  You can’t click on them.  As soon as you put something appropriate in the first 2 boxes, then the Import buttons become available.

File Drawer and File Folder

If your computer is your filing cabinet, then box #1 is the drawer, and box #2 is the folder where you want the picture stored (or #1 is folder and #2 is sub-folder).  Notice that box #1 reads ‘Pictures’.  That means, unless you change it, your pictures will be imported to the ‘Pictures’ aka ‘My Pictures’ area of your computer.  Then, you can create a folder within ‘My Pictures’ by typing something into box #2.

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This means to import pictures into a *new* folder called South Carolina within My Pictures area.

Import to an Existing Folder

After you have created a folder, it will appear in the drop-down for the first box.  So the next day, when you’ve taken more pictures in South Carolina, you can just click on the ‘Import to:’ drop-down arrow and choose South Carolina from the list.

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Now, you can leave the Folder title box blank and click ‘Import all’ or ‘Import Selected.’  Your pictures will be stored in PicturesSouth Carolina.

If the folder you want isn’t on the drop-down list, you can click ‘Choose.’  This will open up a dialog box where you can navigate to any folder on your computer.

Picasa is just your Tool

You can tighten a screw with your thumbnail, or you can use a coin, or you can use a swiss army knife, or you can use a Craftsman screwdriver or a Stanley screwdriver.  They are just different tools for accomplishing the same task.  Once you learn to use a screwdriver – you will probably prefer it.  But the screw doesn’t care – it gets tightened regardless what tool you use.

Picasa is just a tool – it doesn’t actually store your photos – it just helps you put them where you want.  You don’t need to use Picasa to get pictures from your camera to your computer.  You can use the software that came with your camera, you can use the software that came with your computer.  Picasa doesn’t care how the pictures get onto your computer.  As long as the pictures are in a folder that Picasa is watching (see Folder Manager) then Picasa will display them for you.

You can even completely remove Picasa from your computer if you should decide you don’t like it.  Your pictures will remain in whatever folder you put them.

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.

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

 

 

 

Picasa Tip: Nested Folders

The normal way that you see folders in Picasa is called ‘Flat Folder Structure.’   In the Flat view you won’t see that certain folders are within other folders.  If you want to see what folders are nested within other folders, you need to view the folder list in ‘Tree View.  To get there, just click the ‘Tree Structure’ button in the top toolbar.  It’s right under the word ‘Picture’ in the menu.

Take a look at the images below.  On the left is the Flat view, notice the Grand Canyon folder.  It’s listed in the Flat view along with every other folder in your Pictures.  On the right is the Tree View where you can see that the Grand Canyon folder is within October, and October is within 2004.

 

Geeks on Tour members can view a detailed tutorial video on this flat folders vs. tree view.