All of the photos I’ve taken with my regular camera over the past few years are sitting in a shoebox. They aren’t at all organized and, as a result, I rarely look at them. However, the digital photos my husband and I have taken are well-organized for easy browsing thanks to Picasa. I have been using Picasa 1 for about 4 or 5 months, when I discovered that it had been bought by Google and was now being offered for free. I found it was a great way to organize, edit, and print my photos. It doesn’t have the editing capabilities of a Photoshop — you can only do simple things like resize, crop, correct red-eye, etc. — and it’s not meant to compete with Photoshop and similar programs. Picasa is photo organizing software. Software companies realized that people were sick of having their digital photos all over the place on their hard drive and wanted an easy way to organize and search for specific pictures. Picasa is an amazing tool for organizing one’s photos, particularly because of its search function. It’s also amazingly easy to use. When you first download it, Picasa searches your hard drive for any graphics files and displays them on Picasa for easy viewing from one place. It also harvests native metadata like the date the photo was taken so that Picasa can place the photos in chronological order.

Picasa 2 is even more advanced. According to the New York Times (in an article that compares iPhoto and Picasa 2), Picasa 2 offers improved editing capabilities and phenomenal scalability. I haven’t downloaded it yet, but that will definitely be the first thing I do tomorrow morning. I’m thrilled that there are programs like flickr, iPhoto, and Picasa that allow people to organize their digital photos, both online and offline. Maybe I won’t have to save my shoeboxes anymore.