Should you Use Picasa’s Albums or Tags to Organize your Photos?

imageAlbums and Tags are both organizational tools in Picasa on your computer.  They allow you to group your photos by categories of your choosing without physically moving or copying  pictures from the Folders where they are stored.  In our fulltime RVing lifestyle, we are taking pictures all the time, so our folder structure is simple – one folder per month.  All pictures taken in a month are stored in a folder for that month.  Sometimes a special event warrants a folder of its own, but all ‘miscellaneous’ pictures go into the monthly folder.  Albums and Tags allow you to create groupings like music ‘Playlists.’  You can include pictures in different groups without copying or moving them to another folder.

 

State Signs Example

As we travel, I like to take pictures of the sign we see each time we cross a state border.  According to my system, these pictures will be stored in a Folder by the month they were taken.  I then want an Album of all the state signs so I can make a movie like the example below.  To make this movie, I added a few other pictures in addition to the state signs, I found the music “See the USA” by Dinah Shore, and I put it all together in a Movie using Picasa’s “Create Movie Presentation” tool.  Finally I uploaded it to Youtube so you can see.  It all just took a few clicks in Picasa.

Tags are Better than Albums

The best way to prepare for these different groupings is to use Tags.  Whenever I take a picture of a State Sign, I tag it with the keyword ‘statesign.’  Tags are better than albums, because they are stored right with the .jpg file.  If you stop using Picasa at some point, the tags will still be included with your pictures and some other software (like Windows Live Photo Gallery, or Photoshop Elements) can read those tags.  Albums are strictly a creation of Picasa and are only useable with PIcasa.  To gather all the pictures for the Movie above, all I had to do was click on Tools->Experimental->Show Tag as Album
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You may need to refresh the album list before you see the new ‘statesign’ album.  Just collapse the Album collection with the triangle and then expand it again.  You should notice that it has a green album icon with an asterisk, that is the indicator that this is a dynamic album create from Tags.  Once I can see the Album, I just click on the button for Create Movie, enter the music selection, then click the Youtube button. 

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Albums are Temporary

Once you have your movie, you can even delete the Album – it was just a temporary grouping to facilitate making the movie.  Delete the album and your pictures are still in their respective folders, along with their tags.  At any time, you can use the “Show Tag as Album” command and see the statesign group again.

Learn More from Tutorial Videos

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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