PC Tutor Times

Summer 2005, Volume VII, Issue 2

Picasa2, A Google Program For Digital Pictures

What are Digital Pictures?

Summer is all about taking pictures. And in today's world taking pictures is all about digital cameras. Digital cameras do not use film and therefore there is no film developing. When you take pictures with a digital camera the pictures are saved to a memory card inside the camera. You then transfer the pictures from the memory card to your computer. Memory cards can be used over and over again. But one of the most confusing aspects of storing digital pictures on your computer has always been how to organize, edit, print and email them. Finally there is a easy to use program for dealing with digital pictures. It is called Picasa2 by Google and it's free.

Buttons at the top of the Picasa2 Desktop Window

Picasa2 Desktop Window

Buttons at the bottom of the Picasa2 Desktop Window


With Picasa2 you can:

Once you install Picasa2 and run it for the first time it will ask you if you want to monitor your entire computer (your C: drive) or just My Documents, My Pictures, etc. Select just My Documents, My Pictures, etc. and from then on Picasa2 will monitor your pictures folder for any new additions.

Importing pictures from your digital camera or memory card:

Once you connect your digital camera to your computer (or better yet, use a memory card reader) and turn it on, Windows XP may pop up a window asking you "What do you want Windows to do?" Click on "Copy pictures to your computer and view them with Picasa2." and click OK.

Windows XP Importing

If you don't have Windows XP or this window does not pop up, then click on the Import button at the top of the Picasa2 Desktop Window.

Picasa2 Importing

  • Picasa2 will automatically detect new digital pictures to import. If your pictures do not start to show up click Select Device and choose which device to copy pictures from. (This can be your digital camera, memory card reader, scanner or CD.)
  • Wait for Picasa2 to acquire all the pictures from your camera/memory card and then click Finish.
  • A "Finished Importing" window will pop up asking you to type a folder name where you want to save your pictures.
  • This folder will end up being a sub folder of your My Pictures folder. Every Windows computer has a My Pictures folder just like a My Documents folder. In fact, My Pictures is a sub folder of My Documents which means you will find the My Pictures folder under the My Documents folder. A folder name you type here will be a sub folder of the My Pictures folder. Type a folder name and click Finish. (Tip: If all the pictures are of one event then type the name of that event. But if the pictures are of multiple events then type the date you are copying the pictures to your computer i.e. 2005-05-30. You will be able to organize them later using Labels in Picasa2.)
  • Do not check the box for "Delete original pictures from the source when import is complete." I like to make sure my pictures have transferred successfully before I delete the originals. After I am satisfied that the pictures are on my computer I can then delete them from the memory card using the delete function on my camera. (See your digital camera instructions on how to do that with your camera.)

Picasa2 Creating a new Folder

It only takes a minute for Picasa2 to create a new folder and import all your pictures. On the left-hand side in Picasa2 you now have a new folder with the name you just gave. When you click on that folder on the right-hand side you see all your pictures.

New "2005-05-30" folder in Picasa2


Using Labels to organize your pictures:

Once your pictures are on your computer you can further organize them in Picasa2 using Labels. Labels differ from Folders because Folders are actual places on your computer (remember folders are created in your My Pictures folder). Labels are only a way for Picasa2 to group pictures from multiple folders. For example lets say you took pictures of your garden in the spring and again in the fall in 2004. You may have two folders one called 2004-04-28 and one called 2004-09-15 containing pictures of your garden on April 28, 2004 and September 15, 2004. (Remember you will often use the date you transferred the pictures to the computer as the folder name.)

To create a new Garden label:

  • Select some pictures that belong in a new label.
  • Click on the File menu and click on New Label
  • Type the name for your new label and click OK

Picasa2 Creating a new Label

Labels show up on the left-hand side just above the Folders list. When you click on the label name on the left-hand side, the right-hand side will show you those pictures. So to bring together all your garden pictures simple drag them from the 2004-04-28 and 2004-09-15 folders to the new Garden label. (Note: The pictures will always remain in their original folder; they do not get "moved" to a Label. Labels are simply used to group pictures together from many different folders.)

Editing pictures:

(Click here if you would like to learn how to make a backup copy of a single picture before you edit the orgiinal.)

To edit a picture (Crop, Straighten, Redeye, "I'm Feeling Lucky", Contrast, Color and Fill Light) double-click on the picture. All of the basic fixes will be on the left-hand side.

Picasa2 Basic Fixes

Click on the tool you would like to use. Read the instructions for using the tool. For example, to crop a picture click on the Crop button and drag your mouse diagonally across the picture to make a rectangle over the part you want to keep.

(Note: "I'm Feeling Lucky" is a Google trademark. In Picasa2 it means go ahead and make editing changes automatically. On the Google website it means automatically take me to the first website result for my search.)

Picasa2 Cropping

Then click on the Apply button and then click on the Back to Library button.

Picasa2 Finished cropping


Backup your pictures to CD or DVD:

If your computer has a CD-writer or DVD-writer drive then you can backup your pictures to a CD or DVD.

  • Click on the Backup button at the top of the Picasa2 Desktop Window to start the process.
  • Click New Set in the #1 box and type a name for the pictures to be backed up.
  • You can backup all or only some of your pictures by checking and unchecking the boxes next to your folder names on the left-hand side.
  • Notice just above the #2 box Picasa2 tells you how many files are to be backed up and how many CD or DVDs it will take.
  • Click the Burn button to the right of the #2 box.
  • Wait until Picasa2 is finished writing your pictures to CD and then click Eject.

Picasa2 Backup


Create a Gift CD with built-in slideshow to share your pictures with friends and family:

  • Click on the Gift CD button at the top of the Picasa2 Desktop Window to start the process.
  • Click the Add More button if you would like to add other folders to the CD.
  • Type a name in the CD Name box.
  • As with Backup Picasa2 shows you how many CD or DVDs the Gift CD will take.
  • Click Burn Disc.

Picasa2 Gift CD


Printing your pictures:

When it come time to print your pictures you have two choices: 1.) print them yourself with a photo printer, or 2.) have them printed and mailed to you using an online service like Shutterfly.com.

To print them yourself:

  • Click on the picture you want to print. If you want to print more then one picture you can select more than one. Multiple pictures can be printed on one page or separate pages.
  • Click on the Print button at the bottom of the Picasa2 Desktop Window.
  • On the left-hand side click on the Printer Layout (4x6, 5x7, etc.) you want to use.

Picasa2 Printing

  • When using photo paper remember to change the printer settings. Click on Printer Setup and change the Paper Type to Photo Paper or Premium Photo Paper. Also change the Print Quality to Best. Click OK

Printer Setup
Change Paper Type to Photo Paper
Change Print Quality to Best


To order prints from an online service:

  • Click on the pictures you want to print.
  • Click on the Order button at the bottom of the Picasa2 Desktop Window.
  • Click on the service you would like to use. (I recommend Shutterfly.com)
  • Follow the onscreen instructions for that service.

Picasa2 Select an Online service


To email pictures to friends and family:

  • Click on the pictures you want to email.
  • Click on the Email button at the bottom of the Picasa2 Desktop Window.
  • A new email message will open with your pictures already resized for emailing and attached.
  • Finish writing and addressing your message and send it.

Picasa2 is a wonderful example of a program that works right. It is easy to use and intuitive. I hope you have fun this summer taking lots of pictures now that you have the tool to keep them organize and to work with them.

Download Picasa2

Summer Fun

National Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commemoration

Find a Farmers Market in your state

Email: A Brief History
Ray Tomlinson, an engineer in Cambridge, Mass., is credited with sending the first email from one computer to another in 1971. He combined a program that let him leave messages on his shared computer with another program that let him transfer files between computers. His first email was sent over the ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet, between machines that were side by side. Tomlinson also initiated use of the "at" symbol in email addresses.

Email remained the province of computer scientists and the military at first. In 1989, MCI Mail became the first commercial email system to be connected to the Internet, quickly followed by Compuserve. The large scale adoption of email began after America Online and Delphi started to connect their email systems to the Internet in 1993.

Sources: Electronic Messaging Association, Pew Internet & American Life Project, Federal Highway Administration

Weekly Chores
Step-by-step instructions
Update AntiVirus software
Update Windows
Update Microsoft Office Applications
Backup your data
Disk Cleanup
Scan for Spyware
Run Scandisk
Run Defragment

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