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Organize, edit and share your pictures with the FREE program Picasa 2
With the growing popularity of digital cameras, more and more people are finding themselves with hundreds or even thousands of pictures and no clear way of organizing them, touching them up, and sharing them by email.
Today’s column will present you with a FREE, powerful and user-friendly program called Picasa 2. Picasa 2 is a photo managing program created by Google.
You can download it from the Picasa web site at: http://www.picasa.google.com .
What are some of the things that Picasa can help you do?
Let's look at the program generally, and go through a few specific activities using Picasa.
Organize your pictures:
When you install Picasa, it scans all the pictures in your computer and automatically sorts them by date. You can also use the Picasa software to import pictures from your own digital camera, and the likelihood is that Picasa will be much easier to use than the software that came with your camera.
You can move and rename pictures from inside the Picasa program. If you prefer to organize your pictures thematically, rather than according to date, “virtual” albums can be created that group your pictures by topic without actually moving their physical location on the computer.
Edit your pictures
Using the editing features – Basic Fixes, Tuning, and Effects --, you can touch up your photographs. Among other changes, you can remove redeye, crop, straighten, and change the color and contrast in your pictures. If you wish you had used a flash, use can brighten your dark pictures. There are also some special effects that can change the tones and tints of your pictures and even add a softer focus.
Add captions to your pictures; these captions can be edited and are fully searchable.
Share your pictures
Resize your pictures and attach them to e-mail messages (Picasa is compatible with most e-mail programs).if you already have a blog, or want to start one, Picasa works hand-in-hand with a very popular program called Blogger, and you can transfer pictures from within Picasa to your blog at the touch of a button.
Use the program to create slideshows, create gift CDs, makes collages, posters, screensavers, and even a movie from your favorite pictures.
Let’s look at some of the features:
Picasa is such a comprehensive program that it is impossible to review it in detail in such a short article. But let’s take a look at a few of the most common features so you have a better idea of how the program looks and works.
Seeing your pictures
If you have downloaded and installed Picasa 2, the program has looked through your computer and found the picture and movie files stored there. The main library screen will look something like this (the red labels are mine):
All your picture folders are organized by date on the left side of the screen. When you click on a folder in the folder list, thumbnail (miniature) versions of the pictures in the folder appear in the lightbox.
When you click on a picture in the lightbox, the selected picture appears in the picture tray, and the picture tray buttons become active and more brightly colored.
Both the folder list and the lightbox have scrollbars so you can easily move up and down to see more folders and pictures.
Editing your pictures
When you double-click a picture in the library screen, the editing screen opens. The picture you are working on appears in the right pane of the screen.
In the left pane, you can see editing tools – separated into three groups or tabs:
For a detailed discussion of what each tool on each tab does, see user guide at http://picasa.google.com/help/
Let’s look at the Redeye tool in the Basic Fixes tab.
The Redeye removal tool:
We’ve all had this experience—we take a beautiful picture which is marred by the subject having red eyes. To illustrate how you can use one of the editing tools, let’s remove red-eye from this baby picture:
Here’s the Before picture: And here is the After picture:
To remove redeye, do the following:
- With the picture open in the Editing Screen, click the Redeye button in the Basic Fixes tab.
The Redeye window opens.
- As the instructions on the screen clearly state, “Click, hold and drag the mouse around each eye separately to select it.”
Notice that most of the picture is now grayed out, and only the selected eye appears in full color.
- When you release the mouse, the redeye will be removed. (Each eye is done separately).
- If you are happy with the result, click the Apply button.
Once you click Apply, you are returned to the regular editing window.
- Pay close attention to this next step. Until now, you have edited your picture ONLY IN PICASA. If you look at your picture using another application – like the Windows Picture Viewer, or Photoshop — you will NOT see the changes you have made. To save your changes, you have to do one final step: Exporting your picture.
At the bottom of the editing window is the picture tray, and the picture tray buttons.
Click the Export button.
- The Export to Folder window opens, and offers you some final options. You can choose where to store the picture (Location), give a new name for the folder, and determine the size and quality of the picture. Click OK to finish.
Some other picture tray buttons you might like to try:
The Print button: Print your pictures at home. If you want to print one copy or multiple copies in a variety of sizes – Picasa offers you many choices, and makes printing easy.
The Email button: Press this button to automatically resize and attach pictures to email.
One more creative thing to try: the Collage button.
- Return to the Library View of Picasa (the first screen we looked at).
- Choose a folder.
- This time, let’s select multiple pictures. Do this by holding down the Ctrl key while clicking several pictures with your mouse.
In the image below, note how in the main window several pictures have a light blue outline.
In the picture tray, all these pictures appear in small thumbnail versions at the bottom left.
- Now, in the picture tray, click the Collage button.
- Picasa makes a collage of the selected pictures and gives you several options to manipulate the collage: Type, Options, and Location. I chose Picture Pile with a White Background, and here is what I got:
- When you are happy with the result, choose a folder to save the picture in click Create, and your new collage will be stored in the selected folder.
This is just a small sample of what you can do with Picasa. Try it yourself—you won’t be sorry.