A lot of people have photos stored in folders on their storage drives, so it makes sense that if you’ve never used a photo manager before, they can seem a little daunting as far as understanding how they interact with your photos already being stored on your computer.
In this Q&A style tutorial video, I answer a question I received from a reader of Scan Your Entire life on how Picasa fundamentally works to select which photos on your internal or external storage drives are used inside of the application.
Basically, I feel what’s in this video is the most important thing to understand in order to get the most out of Picasa.
Check it out.
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Transcription of Video
Hi there, I’m Curtis Bisel from Scan Your Entire Life, and I just received this question from Ron about his Windows PC.
Thank you for the recent newsletter on storing your photos. I’m going to use Picasa or Windows Photo Manager (where most of my photos are now), but my question relates to how the photo manager software interacts with external hard drives for storage.
I know this may sound elementary, but I’m a bit confused by it. If I’m organizing photos in Picasa, how do they get from Picasa to the external hard drive?
And once they are there, how do I retrieve them back into Picasa, to further organize, add to, delete, etc?
I know I can import them into my photo editing software (I use several different ones), but I just can’t get my head around the connection and interaction between the organizing software. There is probably some very simple answer to this, and I’m stupidly missing something, but I thought since you store your photos on external hard drives, you could guide me in the right direction.
Any thoughts or help much, much appreciated.
First off Ron, I really can appreciate your humility, but please don’t beat yourself up about this. There is just so much stuff to learn about this and it can be tricky when you’re first starting out and sometimes it just takes having something explained to you in couple different ways for you to wrap your head around it.
Some photo managers deal largely with an internal database and what I mean by that is once photos are imported inside, you’re sort of forced to make changes inside the application only, or those changes won’t be reflected in your master images already stored in the folders on your storage drive.
In some ways, Picasa works a little differently. It has a secret weapon that no other photo manager that I’m aware of has. So what we’ve been seeing here is Picasa being installed on Windows 8, and near the end of the installation this window comes up and it says,“Picasa is a ready to search for pictures on your computer,” and you have these two options to choose from.
One is, “Search my whole computer for pictures,” which is the default on the bottom here. But then at the top there’s this other option, “Only search My Documents, My Pictures, and the Desktop,” and this is what I chose because when I use Picasa for the first time, I don’t want it to bring in every photo that’s on my computer. I want it to be just select ones and so this option gives you a narrow down approach of just a few folders where it assumes that most people keep all of their photos.
Okay, so here we are in my copy of Windows and I’m going to load up my test collection here in Picasa and you’ll see that just for demonstration purposes I only have one photo to keep it really simple, and if you notice at that the top under Folders it says Pictures (1) and this corresponds to the one photo that we’re seeing. So if we were to load up File Explorer which is the new version of Windows Explorer, and we went up to My Pictures folder you’ll see the one photo that’s sitting right here that’s corresponding to the photo in Picasa up here.
And so if you remember back when we first installed Picasa, we told it to import any photos that it finds in these three separate folders, the Desktop, the Pictures folder of my user account or anything in My Documents. You’ll see in all three of these folders here there’s only one photo, and that photo is right here in the Pictures folder, which is the reason why we’re only seeing one photo up here in Picasa but I want you to understand that this is just a starting point and you can add as many photos as you’d like and from as many folders and drive locations as you’d like.
This is what sets Picasa apart from all the other photo managers that I’m aware of, and that as it has something called a Folder Manager up in the Tools in the menu bar and then Folder Manager, the first item at the top. In here, you will see a list of all of the folders that Picasa is either monitoring all the time, or has scanned at one point to import photos from those folders. So for example, at the very top you should recognize the first three items, Desktop, My Pictures and My Documents and next to that you’ll see a little blue arrow that’s going clockwise.
Over here on the right you’ll see a legend of what these symbols mean, and the blue arrow means “Scan Always,” and this is the secret weapon that I was talking about earlier. What this means is that those three top folders will always be scanned by Picasa so anytime a photo or more is added to any of those folders with that “Scan Always” label, it will automatically be added to Picasa the next time you load the application.
Then there’s also the “Scan Once” over here on the right and this means that once selected on top of a folder such as My Documents …and then I hit okay, Picasa will scan that folder once and import any photo that it’s finds but it will only do that once. So if you were to add more photos from here on out to My Documents, it won’t be loaded inside of Picasa the next time you launch the application. So let’s try out some of this.
Let’s say we load up a File Explorer and we go into an external hard drive that I just connected called Win External, and in here I have a folder called Scan Photos and I have whole bunch of scanned photos that I’m going to use in this demonstration. So what would happen if I copy one of these photos from the external drive and drag it to the Desktop? You’ll notice that Picasa right here on the far right and over here up to the top, it added under this folder called Other Stuff, a folder called Desktop and there’s the photo.
This happened because up under Tools in the Folder Manager we told it to always be watching the Desktop “Scan Always” for any photos that have been added. Likewise, if I were to go over here and click on the photo drag it to the Recycling Bin, the photos should go away from Picasa because it can no longer see it. So notice the Folder Manager has to be closed in order for the changes to occur. If I were to go back in the Recycling Bin and pull that photo back out, it should be added back into Picasa, and there it is, so it’s a very organic process.
Okay, let’s try something else. Let’s go back to File Explorer and on my C Drive down here at the bottom I have a folder called Old Photos, and inside there I have two other photos that I’d like to add to Picasa but let’s import them a different way. Let’s go up to Tools and Folder Manager and let’s have it only scan it once. So here’s the Old Photos folder, when I click on it and then do “Scan Once” – when I click on OK, it’ll scan that folder and there they are; the two photos that I had added. But then what’s going to happen then if I add another photo to that collection?
I going to go to the Desktop here and I’m going to drag this photo inside the Old Photos folder. So now we have three photos in Old Photos but if we go back into Picasa you’ll see that Old Photos still only has two photos, and also that photo that was on the Desktop and was showing up here in a third folder called Desktop is no longer here in Picasa because we moved the only copy of it from the Desktop into this Old Photos folder.
Isn’t that cool? I mean I can see where you may not want this to happen but for those who want to deal with this organic style of adding and subtracting photos from your collection it’s a very powerful and unique solution.
Now this isn’t the only way that you can bring photos in to Picasa; there’s this Import button here at the top that you can bring in photos from a camera card, or from your cell phone, or really just any drive in particular that you’d like. But I think most people will probably prefer using the Folder Manager for most of their importing. And since we brought up external hard drives into question, let’s go ahead and add that as well. So we’ll go back into the Folder Manager and we’ll select the E: drive, and then Scan Photos and then Scan Always, just to show you that Picasa will allow you to use external hard drives as a permanent storage place for your photos.
You’ll notice that just added seventeen photos here under Other Stuff. Now if you’re like me and you don’t like to have your new folders located under a folder called Other Stuff – I’m sure you can click on both of these and do right click, and do Move To Collection and do Folders and you’ll see that these folders are now moved to a nicer named collection. And even though I won’t really go into it right now, know that you don’t have to move all your photos around in the File Explorer level on your computer. You can also move your master images around using Picasa. If I were to go up here to one of my Folders and right-click, you can do Move Folder and then select a location on your computer that you want to move them to.
Alright Ron, I hope this answered your question or at least gives you a better idea of how Picasa might work for you and your collection.
If you found this information helpful and you’re serious about your digital photo collection, I would encourage you to come to my website and subscribe to my mailing list. You’ll start to receive my free informational email series on the best ways to organize and share your digital as well as your scanned, print and slide collections.
Remember I’m here to help in fact if you have a question after watching this video you’d like to ask, come to the page I’ve set up about this video on my website at scanyourentirelife.com/yt6 (as in YouTube video 6) or click on the link in the information below if you’re watching this video on youtube.com .
Alright take care. Cheers!
Thank you for the recent newsletter on storing your photos. I am going to use Picasa or Windows Photo Manager (where most of my photos are now), but my question relates to how the photo manager software interacts with external hard drives for storage.
I know this may sound elementary, but I’m a bit confused by it. If I’m organizing photos in Picasa, how do they get from Picasa to the external hard drive? And once they are there, how do I retrieve them back into Picasa to further organize, add to, delete, etc.?
I know I can import them into my photo editing software (I use several different ones), but I just can’t get my head around the connection and interaction between the organizing software.
There is probably some very simple answer to this, and I’m stupidly missing something, but I thought since you store your photos on external hard drives, you could guide me in the right direction.
Any thoughts or help much, much appreciated.
- How Picasa’s internal database is different from most other photo managers
- Basic import settings option asked when Picasa is first installed
- Using “File Explorer” to see folders on your storage drive with photos being managed inside of Picasa
- Understanding the basics of Picasa’s “Folder Manager” window
- How “Scan Always” is the secret weapon that’s unique to Picasa
- How the “Scan Once” function works
- How Picasa can automatically add photos you’ve added to watched folders
- How Picasa can automatically remove photos you’ve removed from watched folders
- The limitation and benefit of “Scan Once” watch folders
- How to import photos the traditional import method
- How to automatically watch external hard drives
- How to move folders of photos to other collections inside of Picasa
- Basic idea how to move your master images around on your storage drives while inside Picasa
Google’s Picasa — Learn about and download the latest version of Picasa (Free)
Windows Photo Gallery — This wasn’t demoed in the video, but Ron did mention it in his question, so I thought I would link to it as well for anyone interested in trying it out that doesn’t already have it installed.
In his question, Ron Thoman mentioned already using Windows Photo Gallery, the free photo managing software that comes with the free “Windows Essentials” suite as part of Windows 7+.
After some discussion Ron and I had, we became very interested in knowing how many people prefer using Windows Photo Gallery over Picasa. They are both free and can more or less handle similar tasks, each in their own way.
So, I created a simple poll that we would love for you to take part in:
Alright, lastly as always, if you have any questions I didn’t answer in the video or in these notes below, please feel free to ask them below as well, and I will do my best to answer them for you.