Photos Spare Cycles MythBusters

Review: Picasa - good stuff

picasaI installed Picasa on my dad's computer to help him manage all the digital photos that he's been taking and I am impressed. I'm not impressed because Picasa has better features that Adobe Photoshop Elements, Aperture, or any other photo management software out there. In fact, the features of Picasa are fairly streamlined to include only the most basic photo retouching capabilities.

The reason I am impressed is that it's one of the few pieces of software that my dad was comfortable and competent with almost immediately. My dad is a complete computer novice who doesn't use his computer for much more than writing letters, surfing the Internet, and balancing his checkbook. To see him immediately latch onto the red eye tool, retouch several photos, and then print them with only minimal assistance is a great accomplishment in user interface design. Importing photos from the camera was also a snap because Picasa doesn't really care how you import the photos -- it finds them automatically -- so it doesn't really matter which of the numerous import options Windows pops up he chooses, it will probably work, i.e. Picasa gets around Windows' lack of usability.

There are still some features that my dad had trouble with. The selection tools for cropping and red-eye correction gave him some fuss, it's hard to tell which options you have selected on some menus (the highlight around a selected button is too faint), and the button layout is a bit inconsistent, including the placement of the OK/Cancel options. However, Picasa doesn't edit the photos directly, so it's hard to do permanent damage.

Picasa most directly compares to iPhoto. Photoshop Elements 4.0 and Aperture have more features but require more computer-savvy users. Picasa is much faster than iPhoto and I believe it's UI is a better design for photo-editing and browsing, but you'd never really have to choose because Picasa is only for PCs. So, if your parents have a PC and you want to get them good, free, photo-management software, or you love iPhoto and are stuck on a PC, you may want to give it a shot. It will be better than the crap that comes with your digital camera.

Comments (3)


I did the same thing a few days ago for my parents. They caught on immediately and are already into the "advanced" features of Picasa. The non-destructive editing is a superb idea, and what really impressed me is the search function, which is basically real-time (much like Spotlight on OSX). Definitely a killer app. Nothing/nobody's perfect but Google knows how to build intuitive, simple user UI's.

kwc Author Profile Page:

Well, in this case Google knows how to buy intuitive, simple UIs :)

Picasa is the greatest photo program. I always wanted to use it, but it was of course not free until Google bought it.

I set it up on my parents' computer and it's the best thing since sliced bread. They can now actually use their digital camera, and they don't have to pay those extras to remove red-eye at a photo shop. Picasa 2 is great!

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