Picasa is a Great Pick for Photo Enhancement, Printing and Sharing [ARTICLE]

PicasaDigital cameras let you easily take lots of pictures, giving you the freedom to experiment without racking up film processing fees. And there’s a perfect digital camera out there for everyone-from ones that comes with mobile phones to the fanciest digital SLRs. The real challenge for most people comes in finding an easy way to download, store, edit, organize, print and share those photos.

Picasa provides a perfect do-it-all solution that’s FREE! Forget about the software that came with your camera, it won’t come close to doing what Picasa can do. Neither will most of software in fancy boxes on store shelves. If you already have uploaded photos to an under-performing program, installing Picasa will instantly and automatically find and organize those and any photos on your hard drive. And, if you have KodakGallery.com, Snapfish.com or shutterfly.com accounts, Picasa works seamlessly with those and many other photo-printing sites, too.

What is it?

Picasa is free photo editing software that helps you manage and share photos and videos. You can download Picasa to your Windows XP, Vista or Linux desktop, or get a beta version for Macs. Launching Picasa immediately finds and organizes all the photos on your hard drive. Plug in a camera, phone or memory card and Picasa will automatically recognize the device and help you import those pictures and videos, too.

Popular Features

Picasa 3 Basic Fixes

Picasa’s powerful editing tools let you do basic touchups or perform more advanced enhancements. Just a few of the popular features you’ll find, include:

  • Cropping, rotating or straightening
  • Retouching images with red-eye correction, brushes and more
  • Adding text or watermarks
  • Adding printable captions
  • Adjusting light and shadows
  • Applying effects like black & white, sepia tone or soft focus
  • Creating and editing movies that combine photos, videos and music

Working within Picasa, you’ll also find easy-to-use options for arranging photos into collages, mosaics or contact sheets; custom-designing screen savers; exporting to make your own photo CDs; or printing photos on your own printer.

Photo Sharing

What makes Picasa especially impressive is its intuitive navigation for uploading and sharing photos and videos. With a single click, you can upload selected photos to Picasa Web Albums for private online storage, sharing with friends and family, or public posting (which may elicit comments and ratings). You can store up to 1 GB of photos on Picasa Web Albums for free, and then you have the option of purchasing additional storage space at reasonable rates.

If you prefer to print your photos or you already have accounts at sites like KodakGallery.com or Snapfish.com, select your best photos then click the “Shop” button. You’ll be able to choose from about 15 different vendors that offer photo printing for in-store pick-up or at-home delivery as well as other photo-related products and services.

Picasa Select Email

Picasa also makes it unbelievably easy to email pictures to friends using Gmail, Outlook, Outlook Express or Apple Mail. Again, you simply select your pictures then click one button to launch a new email with your photos already loaded and properly sized to ensure delivery. You’ll also find one-button options for uploading photos to Facebook and Blogger.

Good to Know

With so many features and options in Picasa, you may go a little crazy editing and manipulating your photos. But, never fear. Picasa always retains the original photo file regardless of how many alterations you make. In fact, you could go back and undo every change you’ve made to a photo two years after the fact.

Uploading photos to Picasa Web Albums is one way to save a backup copy, but after a few vacations and birthday parties you’re likely to run out of free storage space. Make sure you have another plan for backing up your photo files as well as all the other files on your computer. Carbonite is a good option or you can use the “Backup Pictures” tool in Picasa to quickly save files to an external hard drive or CD/DVD.