New Picasa (with Web Albums)

Last week Google came out with a new service called Picasa Web Albums. It is the online photo album for Picasa users that has been rumored to be coming out for some time now. It is still in “Test,” which is odd since everything else google puts out there is in “beta,” so there are probably some features that are still coming. Digital Inspiration does a nice job comparing the new service to flickr (and how if falls short) in several key areas. But again, more features could still be on their way.

I got a test account with the new Web Albums and it gives you a new beta version of the Picasa application to download with some nice new features. The about screen shows this as version 2.5. So, while the web albums may be lacking, the new features that they’ve put into Picasa are actually pretty useful.

picasa web album buttonsThe first new item that jumps out right away are the new buttons along the bottom, where an appropriately named “web album” button has been added for your to upload your photos to the web. This button prompts you for your web album login/pass and then asks you for an album name, or allows you to put the photos in an existing web album. You’ve also got options to resize the photos for the upload, which is something you’d probably want to do based on the size limits in place for web albums.

Picasa Upper LeftAnother nice organization feature is in the upper left corner of the program where they’ve added a couple new buttons and categories. First, you can organize your image folders and collections much easier by moving through them, or by clicking the new button to create a new one. There has also been and addition to the top of the album and thubmnail columns. There are now two new categories called Screensaver and Starred Photos. The Screensaver category will add any photos in that category to a screensaver that shows up in the Windows display properties. You can chose what photos you want to rotate through the screensaver. The other new category is the Starred Photos. Starring photos has always been an option in Picasa. You can add a star to the photos that you like the best or want to set apart from the others. In this new version, you can easily view all the photos that you’ve marked with a star in one place instead of digging through hundreds of thumbnails trying to find the ones you’ve marked.

Picasa GeotagThe new Picasa also has a few new menu items added. Under the Tools menu, there are a few new items. The first is an option called “configure buttons” that lets you add, remove and rearrange buttons in the bottom menu. Right now there aren’t any buttons that don’t display by default. I hoping that down the road Google might open up this area for other developers to create buttons that will allow Picasa to be plugged into other applications. Another new menu under tools is the “Geotag” option. It pulls up Google Earth with a little cross-hair letting you find and mark where the photo was taken. Right now it seems to be a bit limited, but I can see this taking off more down the road as Picasa Web Albums become more widespread. Similar to Picasa Experimentawhat you used to be able to do with Flickr, you’d be able to see all photos geotagged in the area you’re viewing in Google Earth. The last new item in the Tools menu is the “Experimental” menu, which includes several options. Publish via FTP, should actually be called “Export as html page” since that’s what comes up when you select that option. At least in this version of the software (from what I can find) it doesn’t really do anything via FTP. Show Duplicate Files finds duplicate photos you have in your collection. Search for, brings up a list of colors and finds all the photos that have a large portion of the color selected in them. The last item in experimental is upload to google video, which again does what you’d expect it to do.

Picasa FullI’m sure I missed some of the new features in the special beta version of Picasa, but the ones that I noticed were definite improvements. There are a lot of little things that just seem to work smoother too. I’ve been using Picasa for organizing my photos about a year now (after Adobe Album corrupted its database one too many times) and like the direction things seem to be moving. It’s definitely my photo program of choice and will continue to be.


gravatar Mizidy Mizark

I got a “test, not beta” account as well, but then quickly realized I can’t do jack with it because I have a Mac. I see the publish via FTP option is in Picasa, does this publish to the web album or does it allow you to export via FTP to a personal web site? If it does to the web album, I might try to tinker and see how I could publish using a Mac.

gravatar Scott

Actually, I think I may have misspoke on the publish via FTP. All that seems to do is create an html web album similar to what photoshop exports that you can uplod via FTP. I guess they assume that you have an FTP program and a website. So you’re technically not really publishing anything or doing anything with FTP. Maybe this is an area they’re planning to expand into. I’ve updated the post to correct this section.

gravatar Kieran

I read some really great discussion about this in a comment thread on a Flickr image the other day. Unfortunately I can’t remember which image it was, so now I can’t find it. There was some good points made, but mostly the consensus was “let’s wait and see what becomes of the updates to Picasa.”

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