Welcome to Picasa

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Open Picasa by clicking the Applications menu, selecting the Graphics group and then the Picasa listing. Click Picasa in the fly-out menu, as shown in Figure 8-3.

Figure 8-3. The Picasa application can be found in the Graphics application category.


You might have noticed that installing Ubuntu also installs an application called GIMP Image Editor in the Graphics group (refer to Figure 8-3). Why would you want to download, install, and use Picasa instead of the built-in GIMP? Well, one of the main reasons why I recommend Picasa is its simplicity (and the fact that it's free). GIMP is an amazing application, and all the things you can do with Picasa (cropping, removing red-eye, and more) can be done with GIMP, but not as easily (in my opinion).

Entire books have been written on using GIMP. (For me, Apress publishes the best book on the subject: Beginning GIMP, 2nd Edition, by Akkana Peck.) It's one of the most powerful image editing applications available and it's 100 percent free. Feel free to open it up and play around. But I feel a quick warning is required here: GIMP can be a little overwhelming at first glance, but it's not a difficult application to learn, so I highly recommend that you purchase a book or consult some of the online resources such as the GIMP Online Manual (http://docs.gimp.org/en/) or some of the online tutorials (http://www.gimp.org/ tutorials/) to get the most out of the application.

The first time you open Picasa, you need to read through the license agreement and click the Next button (see Figure 8-4) to see another page of the agreement. Click the I Agree button to continue.

Figure 8-4. As with most software, Picasa has a license agreement for you to read.

The first time you install Picasa, it scans the entire hard drive for images, which can take some time, especially if you have thousands of digital photos stored on your computer. When the scan is done, you'll see a screen like the one shown in Figure 8-5.

Figure 8-5. The Picasa application opens with folders on the left and photos on the right.

Tip I highly encourage you to begin a habit of storing your photos in the Photos folder on Ubuntu because you'll likely always find what you're looking for in there (it's so easy to remember). To access this folder, click the Places menu and select Photos. You can create as many subfolders in the Photos folder as you like. I'll show you later in the chapter how to configure Picasa to scan only the Photos folder and prevent Picasa from scanning the entire hard drive.

In Figure 8-5, you can see a folder structure running down the left side of the application. These are folders that Picasa has found on your computer that contain one or more images. If you click a photo, the images in that folder are displayed on the right under the Photo section. Folders are organized by year, newest to oldest. (If you look closely at the figure, you can see I have a photo from 2005.) Some cameras mark the digital files with dates, and Picasa can read this information to further help you organize your photos.

To see a larger view of a photo and to access tools to edit that photo, double-click the photo; it opens as shown in Figure 8-6. (Later in the chapter, I'll be showing you how to use some of the editing tools available.)

Figure 8-6. Opening a photo provides access to editing tools on the left side of the screen.

As you edit photos (for example, remove red-eye or crop a picture to remove unwanted parts of a photo), the changes are shown onscreen. You can always undo a change by clicking the Undo button; Figure 8-6 shows that I can undo an Auto-Contrast modification I made to this photo. (If you click Undo and change your mind again, click the Redo button; whatever modification you made will be added back to the photo.)

The final area of Picasa runs along the bottom of the application (see Figure 8-7). This toolbar allows you to do many things with your photos, including printing, sending photos via e-mail, uploading photos to the Internet, and even purchasing prints online. I'll go over a few of these features later in the chapter, but feel free to click and experiment—you really can't do anything to your pictures that can't be undone.

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Figure 8-7. Picasa's toolbar has numerous options, including printing and e-mailing photos.

Before you move on to some sample Picasa tasks, I suggest that you make one change to the way Picasa scans your hard drive for images. Click the Tools menu and select the Folder Manager option. The Folder Manager window opens (see Figure 8-8).

Figure 8-8. The Folder Manager lets you decide what folders get scanned by Picasa.

As shown in Figure 8-8, I expanded the My Pictures folder and the My Documents folder by clicking the + symbols next to them. I can now view all the subfolders. The little eye symbol shows that this folder is scanned by Picasa every time I run the application. There's really no need for Picasa to look under some of these folders—the Music, Videos, and Templates folders are not likely to hold my digital photos.

Click a folder that you want to remove from Picasa's scan and click the Remove from Picasa radio button, as indicated in Figure 8-9. Do this for each folder you want to have Picasa ignore on later startups. In this example, I selected the Music folder (among others) and clicked the Remove from Picasa option (notice that the eye symbol has changed to a red x). This indicates that the Music folder will not be searched in the future.

Figure 8-9. Picasa no longer searches for images in folders shown with an x.

When you finish, click the OK button. The next time you open Picasa, those folders you deselected will no longer be searched.

And now let's take a look at some useful Picasa features that you're sure to find useful when managing your digital photo collection.

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Reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information presented in this book is  accurate. However, the reader should understand that the information provided does not constitute legal, medical or professional advice of any kind.

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