Picasa Is Dead: Long Live Google Photos

Learn about Google's photo app

Picasa was Google's primary photo app for many years. The company originally acquired Picasa in 2004 as a complement to Blogger. It was both a desktop app for Mac and Windows and an online photo gallery. Picasa was from the age of Flickr; it connected users to their social networks, was easy to use on a mobile device, and allowed for editing photos online. Picasa was replaced by Google Photos in 2016.

Google Picasa
Screen Capture

Differences Between Picasa and Google Photos

Google Photos branched off of the now-defunct Google+ as a photo-sharing service. Google Photos allows quick photo searching, classifying, and grouping. It also allows limited photo editing to apply filters and frames, crop images, and add minor photo enhancements. Google Photos focuses on how users work with their pictures, making it easy to edit and share images quickly.

Google Photo Utiliies

Google Photos allows for an array of fun features and special effects, including:

  • Panoramas stitched together from a series of photos.
  • Animations created from a series of photos taken at about the same time.
  • Multiple portraits arranged in a photo-booth style photo arrangement.
  • Photo arrangements that mark memories, such as one year ago or two years ago.
  • Holiday-themed special effects, such as Valentine's Day hearts and Halloween skeletons.
  • Interactive story collections created with photos around an event or location. 

How you access these features, however, has gone through some changes. Originally, there was a Google Photos Assistant function that launched these features, then it was changed to a For You tab. With the latest Google Photos redesign, stylize your photos by going to the Libraries tab and selecting Utilities. From there, create animations, collages, movies, and more.


Picasa's biggest weakness (other than depending on a combination desktop and online app) is that it never allowed for proper, modern sharing. With Google Photos, share your images via Twitter, Instagram, Messenger, Snapchat, Facebook, and more. Create albums with shareable links, as well. As other social networks gain popularity, Google Photos will likely keep adding sharing functions. 

Automatic Backups

One of the most useful features of the Picasa desktop app was that it automatically backed up photos from your desktop. If you had a digital camera and wanted to preview your vacation photos on your laptop, this was extremely handy. Fortunately, you still get this basic functionality using the Google Photos uploader.

Google Photos backs up a high-quality photo but not a full-resolution photo unless you specify it. Full-resolution photos cost extra storage money, but you can keep the originals on your hard drive or back them up another way. 

If you rely on backups from your Android phone, Google Photos duplicates your files in both spots. 

Photo Editing

With Google Photos, you can crop, make minor adjustments, and add filters. To add contrast, put on a color filter. But, you can't perform advanced functions, such as editing out blemishes. It may not stay this way forever, Google purchased and retired Picnik, a powerful, online photo-editing app that allowed for additional features. Google also owns Snapseed, a mobile photo editing app.

What About Flickr?

Flickr provides a reasonably parallel experience if you're used to features of Picasa. Both allow (or allowed) labels, albums, printing, and geotagging (associating a geographic location with a photo, which is often done automatically by phone cameras and other devices). 

You can print photos or order online prints from either app, and you can bulk upload your photos, embed them, create communities, and add comments. You can specify Creative Commons licenses or retain all copyright protections for your works with easy settings that you change on a site-wide or per-photo basis.  

Flickr is an established player. It's been around longer, and it's still used by serious photographers. However, it was recently acquired by SmugMug from Yahoo, which has been suffering from years of decline. There's no certainty that Flickr will live much longer than Picasa, and once it goes, there may not be a clear migration path to move photos to another service.

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