If you use Picasa, the desktop based photograph management and uploading application from Google, you need to be aware that Picasa can lose images and folders from time to time. If you notice your pictures going missing in Picasa, first off, Don’t Panic!
Before We Continue – an Update
Google is dropping support for Picasa. You can keep using it, but if it goes wrong there’s nothing you can do. So here’s some options [taken from one of my replies in the comments below].
- You could keep using Picasa until it stops working … Not ideal but it will work for a while.
- Upload all your pictures to Flickr. Flickr online offers all the search, tagging and organizing into albums that Picasa does. And I think the new Flickr uploader works a bit like Dropbox, so you can create a basic folder structure on your computer to upload to Flickr. I say ‘I think’ because I haven’t tried the new uploader. I still use Flickr as one of my photograph backup sites (Dropbox is the other) but, see option 3. below
- Adobe Lightroom. $9 per month (last checked October 2016), this has an in-built upload to Flickr. It allows you to tag, geotag, name people, add titles, descriptions, rate images and organize them into endless virtual albums, and export the pictures in lost of formats. It also includes a very comprehensive, non-destructive picture editor. Unfortunately it has a fairly steep learning curve. I love it and it handles my 25,000+ personal images with ease, and also some 10,000+ images I hold for a customer for whom I produce a print magazine. With Lightroom I import the images from the camera into a dated folder (Year\month) in Dropbox, and Export them to Flickr once I’ve processed the images. I shoot Raw and Lightroom handles Raw Files, so I no longer keep jpgs. I can produce a jpg whenever I want to any size I want. Since switching to Lightroom I’ve had very little use for Photoshop, except for producing original artwork.
Now if you want to try and fix your copy of Picasa – read on…
Check Your Hard Drive
The good news is that your pictures are probably all okay. Have a look around your hard drive – typically in a windows machine they’ll be in the ‘My Pictures’ folder unless you’ve elected to keep them somewhere else. And of course you keep back-ups?
I recommend Picasa to my customers, so I was rather concerned that pictures appeared to be going missing. Even more so when I started looking online and discovered this is fairly common, and the advice from Google is to uninstall Picasa and then re install it. This is fine if you haven’t been using Picasa’s virtual albums, or making use of Picasa’s rather uncanny face recognition software. In either case you’d need to start again from scratch. So I spent a couple of hours reading endless forums trying to find a solution that wouldn’t lose my albums. I’m not quite so worried about the people recognition, but it would be nice to keep that too.
Firstly my reading reminded me that Picasa unlike a lot of other Photo Organizing software actually deletes a picture or a folder if you ask it to do so. Some Photo Organizers just remove the image from the organizer’s database, leaving the original alone just in case it is needed.
So if your problem has been caused by some over enthusiastic use of the delete button, go check in your system recycle bin (usually an icon or your desktop), and if you find your missing pictures, use the File Restore facility.
If that’s not your issue, and you can see your pictures in Explorer, but not in Picasa, then before you think about rebuilding your database, there is another check to make.
Check Picasa to make sure you haven’t hidden some folders
Now check the list of folders for any that have a cross beside them. As you can see I don’t bother to get Picasa to look for photographs in some folders on my machine – mainly because I know these areas have duplicates at different sizes.
Rebuilding the Picasa Database without re-installing Picasa
If you haven’t hidden your folders, then it looks like rebuilding your database is going to be required. I found this great tip. There is a ‘secret’ key sequence you can use when starting Picasa that tells it to delete and rebuild the database. To work you must start Picasa from the Windows Start Menu or the Task bar. Hold down the Ctrl Shift and Alt keys simultaneously and keep them held down while you click on the Picasa icon. When the following message appears you can let go of the keys.
Then all you have to do is sit back and wait… and wait… while it finds all your pictures, repopulates your Photo albums, and also (if you have Face recognition turned on) goes through and finds all the faces again. Unfortunately you may need to reconfirm those faces it has trouble recognizing. Picasa took between 1-2 hours to index my 33,000+ images.
Re installing Picasa
There’s a Google Support page to tell you how to uninstall and re install Picasa. If you are reasonably technically savvy this blog post tells you what files to save to keep your albums so you can get them back when you re install Picasa.
Backing Up Your Pictures
External drives, SD Cards, DVDs all offer fairly easy ways of making back-ups – depending on how many pictures you have. I also keep copies of my pictures on-line in Flickr – you can have up to 1 terabyte free. Or as Flickr puts it:
That’s quite enough space for most people!
The important thing is to make a copy. Also, remember to check that your back ups are okay, and make a new copy every now and then. Media deteriorates over time.
So, if your pictures are important make sure they are backed up. Especially before doing anything recommended above.
Do not rely on the likes of Facebook to keep copies of your pictures. Even if you tell Facebook to upload high quality images, it still only keeps fairly small (around 2,000 pixels maximum width or height), and quite highly compressed (low quality) versions. If you want to check how bad it is try uploading a picture showing black text against a red background.
Why Use Picasa Anyway?
I use Picasa for several reasons.
- Picasa lets you scroll through your pictures very quickly
- The Search functionality is very good especially if you tag your images
- Creating albums is very quick
- You can export images at different resolutions – which makes producing smaller images for websites a breeze. I used to use my Nikon Software to run a batch process to do this. Picasa does it much more quickly and easily.
- Automated Collage production. I use these a lot for posters and promotional materials.
I do not use Picasa to edit my pictures. For that I use a combination of Capture NX 2 and a now aging copy of Photoshop, which is all I need for the simple image fixes I perform. And I don’t use Picasa to embed the IPTC data. For that I use Nikon’s ViewNX 2, which also provides Geo-location data.