Picasa is a free photo organization and editing tool from Google, and for a free program, it really has a lot to offer. Picasa is desktop software that runs on Windows, and it can be downloaded from http://picasa.google.com/
Find Your Photos
After you install Picasa, it asks you if you'd like to scan your entire computer or if you'd like to scan just the desktop, my photos,
and my documents
folders. I'd really suggest restricting your search to just those folders, unless you've got more than one hard drive or you've been storing photos in odd locations.
When Picasa scans your entire computer, you'll get cached Internet files, graphics from computer programs, and other images that you probably don't need in your photo album. You can remove files later, but it's easier not to import them in the first place.
You can also import photos directly from a digital camera, which is a handy way to keep them organized from the start.
Organize Your Photos
Photos by Marziah Karch
Picasa will organize your photos by date and initially retains the same file structure as your hard drive. The main area shows thumbnails of the images, and along the right side is a scroll bar to navigate. Thumbnails in the library are grouped by folder, but they're all displayed (with some scrolling.) This means that you don't have to repeatedly click to navigate to a new folder, which is a nice touch.
You can move thumbnails from folder to folder directly from Picasa, and it will confirm and then move the corresponding file on your hard drive. This makes it much easier to organize albums.
Labels and Stars
Rather than physically moving all your photos, you can give them labels. That way, for example, you could label all the photos of your children with their name but still have individual folders for vacations and holidays.
Similarly, you can rate your photos with stars and view only the photos with a certain rating. This makes it easy to tell by thumbnail which photos are in focus or have the best expressions.
You can also geotag photos with the geographic location they were taken. This lets you view the photos geographically in Google Earth.
Edit and Fix
By double clicking on a photo, you can enter an editing room to crop, fix red eye, straighten photos, adjust color, and apply special effects like film grain or soft focus. The editing room even has an I'm Feeling Lucky
button, just like the Google search engine, which automatically applies recommended effects.
Overall, the effects are pretty advanced for a free software program. You don't get as much control as you would in an advanced photo-editing package like Adobe Photoshop, of course, but the options and controls for photo editing are still really nice.