Share and Store Photos with Picasa Web Albums

Among the many ways to share and store photos, Picasa is one of my favorites. Along with great desktop software for management, Picasa’s web interface has a great selection of features and options. If you’re looking for a smart, simple and easy way to share and store your photos with the ability to expand, in both storage and flexibility, as your photo albums do — Picasa is a great choice.

Picasa and Google

As with all other Google products, Picasa requires a Google account to get started. For those of you who already use Gmail or another Google service, you’re already ready to go; simply log in using your Google account.

Picasa Login

Picasa Login

If you haven’t upgraded your Google account’s storage, Picasa will come with 1GB of free storage, separate from your Gmail storage space. That’s enough space to give Picasa a good test, but once you decide to use Picasa — you’ll most likely want to upgrade your storage. Purchasing additional storage is cheap and will be shared between all your Google services, a nice feature I think.

Google Storage

Google Storage

If you happen to need more than 1TB of storage space between all your Google services, options are available all the way up to 16TB. For most people, 1TB or less will be plenty. I’ve added 80GB to my account.

Paid storage is in addition to free storage offered by Google. 1GB free storage with Picasa Web Albums + 80GB of paid storage; I have 81GB of total available space for Picasa and 87GB available for Gmail. 80GB being shared between the services.

Uploading Your Photos

Once you’ve logged into Picasa, adding photos is pretty straight forward. Just click the upload button near the top, next to the tabbed navigation.

Upload Photos

Upload Photos

If you’ve already uploaded photos, you’ll be asked if you want to upload photos to an existing album or a new album.

Create New Album

Create New Album

In this case, I want to create a new album. Enter the details for your new album, optionally entering where the photos were taken and even showing the location of the photos via Google Maps. Make sure you set your sharing options at the bottom. In this case, I want the album to be public but I don’t need to notify anyone.

Create New Album - Options

Create New Album - Options

The feature to notify friends, family or coworkers is a nice additional feature to keep people updated on new photo additions. This is especially useful for those photo additions that aren’t public or require sign-in to view. Alternatively, your public albums have RSS feeds that can be subscribed to.

Next, select your photos and click Start Upload. This is not one area the web interface of Picasa Web Albums that shines. The web uploader is terribly inefficient, but probably for a reason (but still not excusable). Google wants you to use their Picasa desktop software to upload and manage your photos, which is a great application but a better method for uploading via the web should be available.

Upload Photos

Upload Photos

Desktop Software

If you plan on uploading more than just a few photos at a time, you’ll want to download Picasa for the desktop.

Picasa Desktop

Picasa Desktop

If you’re a Mac user and use iPhoto, you can instead use the Picasa Web Albums uploader within iPhoto. I don’t like being tied to desktop software to manage my photos though, especially for uploading. I want something as light and fast as possible, which would be the direct interface of the Picasa Web Albums uploader.

Picasa Web Albums Uploader

Picasa Web Albums Uploader

Using the Picasa uploader is fast and straight forward. Simply drag your photos or video into the sidebar area, select your settings, enter your info. and hit upload. When it’s done it will ask if you want to view your web album.

I won’t get into the full Picasa desktop software but it’s pretty decent photo management software; I just prefer using a combination of Photoshop and direct uploading with the Picasa Uploader.

Upload Quality and Formats

Unlike most other photo storage and sharing web apps online, Picasa doesn’t edit, compress or reduce the quality of your uploaded images. This was a huge deciding factor when I was choosing between Flickr and Picasa. Flickr may not do this any more, but they used to.

Picasa also supports a wide range of image and video formats, ranging from .JPG and .TIF to .PSD and even a large selection of RAW formats. Some of these image types consume a rather large amount of space in comparison to formats like .JPG, so it’s great having the option and ability to easily manage and store these kinds of formats in Picasa.

It’s also important to note that when uploading photos via desktop apps, the default quality option is set to “1600 pixels”, which will reduce your image sizes. I change this to “Actual Size” so I don’t loose any image data.

Photo Management

Once you’ve uploaded your photos, you have a variety of sharing and organization options available. You’re able to tag and caption photos (along with allowing comments), organize and reorder them, order prints, embed album galleries, etc.

Photo Options

Photo Options

One particular feature of Picasa I enjoy, is integration with Google Maps. You’re able to edit location details of your photos and have those locations placed on a Google Map for easy viewing of your photo locations. You’re also able to set Picasa to automatically detect location info. from your photos and include it in your album maps.

As you tag photos, you’ll also notice that Picasa includes facial recognition. Much like Facebook’s tagging, you tag people in your photos which are automatically detected by Picasa. Photos with tagged people are tied to your Google contacts, or you can create new contacts.

Photo Sharing

Admittedly, Picasa lacks some more advanced sharing options I think should be integrated, although it just depends on what you need or expect. Clicking the Share button in an album brings you to a form for inviting people to view or collaborate on your album.



Share Link or Embed

Share Link or Embed

Another option is to share a link to the album (or a specific image). This is generally what I use to share album photos but an option to connect to Twitter or Facebook would be nice. You can also optionally embed a customizable slideshow in your website with tables or an embedded flash slideshow.

If these embedding options aren’t enough for you though, Picasa also has an API available for getting into a deeper level of customization.

You can optionally allow viewers to download your photos, at full resolution.


While Picasa doesn’t implement some of the more popular social media features available on other sites, they do make it pretty easy to explore other people’s photos as well as where they were taken. No, it’s not quite on par with what Flickr offers, but it’s not bad either.

Picasa Photo Exploring

Picasa Photo Exploring

Final Thoughts

Although Picasa has many more features, this is a great starting overview. Picasa isn’t quite as integrated with social media as other sites, nor does it provide some of the more advanced community sharing features as sites like Flickr; it does, however, do a great job of storing and managing your photos, especially with it’s optional desktop software.

If you’re a beginning photographer (like myself), Picasa is a great way to easily store your mass (or soon-to-be) collection of photos (I have two Picasa accounts), then manage and share them as you see fit.

What do you use for photo storage, management and/or sharing? I’d love to hear what you think of Picasa or how it compares to other sites like Flickr. Leave a comment below!


Add Yours
  • Love Picasa, just moved all my photos to the service and shared with my parent, now the (parents) can see how it is on this side of the pond.

    I have also created little “community feature” utilizing API. PicasaToBBCode helps convert your image links into BBCode Right now you are limited to public albums only.

  • I recently started using Picasa web albums funnily enough and was confused by the 5-image upload limit. Interestingly enough, you can use Internet Explorer to upload as many as you like at a time and doing so very quickly, removing the need to download any software for people like me who want to live on the web and only in a web browser (I guess that’s the purpose of web apps).

    So to clarify, use Internet Explorer to upload as many as you like at a good speed (depending on your internet connection) – hopefully they bring a similar feature using Flash or something to Chrome/Firefox users.


    • BTW this uses an ActiveX control.

      • Interesting, I didn’t know IE had that capability. Thanks for sharing!

    • Can I say that you can upload entire albums, folders with tags and location data via the upload button in the desktop app. Just makes things a whole lot easier than faffing around with browsers.

      • AppStorm.. for web apps, kind of defeats the purpose using a desktop app? As long as you use IE (which is pretty stupid), using a browser for uploads is just fine… some of us don’t want to download crap to our desktops but live on the web, which is what this blog / website is all about.

  • I’m now using Picasa for my image storage – probably safer than storing on my home hard drive. Now – how to back up from Google incase of a disaster? I’m thinking writing a script using the API, then download the images onto some backup storage somewhere – automatic every month or week.


    • Honestly, the chances of Google loosing your data from a disaster are so slim that I wouldn’t even spend the time worrying about it. Although the idea of loosing years worth of photos is pretty unnerving.

      I’ve actually already hired a PHP developer to create a script that checks my albums for recent additions every 24 hours and update a .zip of each album on the server. All the album .zip’s will also be combined into a single main .zip too. The purpose behind this is to provide downloads of full albums or an entire account’s collection. But it would also double as an easy way to make backups of your library. I’ll tweet about it when/if it’s finished.

      • Cool cheers, that sounds like a great solution.

        My photos are best with Google than with me on my home computer but a couple of problems, since photo’s are there to be kept for years to come:

        – What if I would *like* to move my photos elsewhere? A solution like yours would make this very easy to do at any point, without this sort of solution it would not be possible.

        – Suppose for some reason Google closed my account, God knows why but just *if* .. it’s much more satisfying to know that I have a copy of my pics somewhere :) (I’m also worrying about this with e-mail in my Google apps mail, so will be looking for a solution to back up e-mail as some of them are important)

    • I use a software called TudZu. It bacs up your photos on your friend’s computer (encrypted of course). You can also share albums and the best, you can share your picasa albums with TudZu. Very easy to use ( )


  • hello , i love to have storage for mine pictures, i am on piacca for a long time, but everime i like to do something special ,like this storage, it show up in spanish which i dont understand, when this is fixt i can do sing up. plese let me know what to do thank you

  • I have many photos stored on various Picasaweb albums, and even a couple of short videos, but I’d like to download them back onto my laptop so that I can make copies for backup. I’m not very computer savvy, and can’t write software or anything like that, but I’d appreciate any simple advice about how to download. Can anyone help?

    • You can download images from Picasa individually using the web interface or you could use Picasa 3, the desktop client:

      There are other methods but Picasa 3 would likely be your best choice.

  • Great overview. I started using iPhoto a couple of years ago, but I don’t like the idea of having all of my photos on my home computer in case of a disaster. I have them backed up even using their “Time Machine”. Anyway, I began using Picasa Web Albums as you have. I need to upload all of the photos from iPhoto now to Picasa Web and then remove them from my machines so I don’t carry around dups. I have purchased 200GB of storage and don’t plan on filling that up with pictures anytime soon.

    I also have started using the EyeFi card. It uploads my photos directly to PicasaWeb without ever storing them on my computers locally. It’s great.

    Also, with Google’s recent acquisition of Piknic, I’m excited to see what they can do now for “cloud” folks who want to edit photos online.

    Thanks again for the overview. Time to begin uploading!

  • Hi, liked your comments. Are my photos safe on picassa web or do I need to back them up in some other way?

  • Picassa, I have my photos with you and you have changed I cant find them now. What can I do I simply dont know where to go and I need to copy some for friends I am devestated HELP!
    Len Hiomber

  • Nice very nice

  • I’m travelling and the app is perfect to upload the pictures with my ipad1.
    The problem now is that my Ipad runs out of space and I can’t delete the album from the ipad without deleting the online version as well.

    I tried to rename the album and then delete the album on the ipad. That didn’t work as the ipad will catch the new online album and create a folder on the ipad again and I have the same space used again.

    Has anybody an idea what I can do to delete some photos and gain more space on my ipad but still keep the photos online?

    Like I said, I am not close to a computer where I can store them at home.
    I searched everywhere and didn’t find a solution as of now.

    Any help and ideas would be greatly appreciated!