Freebie of the month: Picasa

This week’s free software is not exactly a newcomer. The digital image management software Picasa was purchased by Google two years ago from its original manufacturer. Since then it is offered by Google at no charge: I stumbled upon Picasa when I was looking for an easy-to-use image manipulation software for my parents who have recently bought a new digital camera. Easy-to-use was the keyword, and it seems to me that software cannot get much easier than Picasa. Granted, the image manipulation features are not very powerful, nothing compared to Photoshop, Gimp, or Paintshop, but they provide all the essential hobby photographer functions, such as contrast, colour, crop, straighten, crop, and red-eye adjustment, as well as a number of filters including sharpen, B&W conversion, saturation, tint, etc. The real power of Picasa, however, lies in its image management features.

The software makes it extremely easy to create and manage large image libraries. You can easily find images, copy and send single images, and keep track of new additions. The user interface is polished and innovative; it has a definite Mac feeling. The full-screen slide-show and time-line viewing functions are great. Perhaps the best thing about Picasa are its one-button features. By clicking a single button, you can export a selection of images to a web page, send images as an email attachment (Picasa resizes them automatically), print images or order prints, create a photo collage, or create a gift CD. In addition, Picasa provides functions for exporting photos to an online blog at Google’s service, or adding photos to the Picasa Web Album, likewise a Google service, which allows you to create and share photo albums.