Yesterday was the day I’ve been waiting on for months. Google finally released the popular, and FREE, Picasa image management software for the Mac!
Let me explain. You see, a while back I was forcibly converted to the Mac at work. At first I complained. A lot. But later it grew on me. Now, even though I hate to admit it, I have to say I actually prefer the Mac for most computing operations. One of the things that I did not enjoy, however, was the pathetic iPhoto software which was pretty much the only game in town for Mac users… until today.
So, Picasa, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
- First of all, I hate any sort of application that unnecessarily forces it’s users into a proprietary closed platform. And right off the bat, iPhoto does this (just like freakin iTunes!). You see, when you import photos into an iPhoto library it basically takes all of your individual pictures and lumps them into a giant ball, from which the average users can no longer extract them without great pain!
Clearly they do this for the sole purpose of excluding the use of any other image editing software once they’ve got their grubby hands on your photos, because once they are imported you are going to have one heck of a time getting them OUT of iPhoto without making a huge mess. (You can opt out of this default behavior, but most people don’t know that.)
If we take a look at Picasa on the other hand, this image management tool simply organizes your photos into directories on your hard drive which it efficiently scans and catalogs – without moving things around or messing stuff up!
It also means that if you wanted to make a copy of your entire photo library, or a portion of it, for a friend or relative all you need to do is copy those folders onto portable media and hand it over. Can’t do that with iPhoto without a messy Export session! Oh, and while we’re on this topic, the folks behind Picasa were nice enough to include an “Import from iPhoto…” function to help you free those images from their bonds.
- Speaking of liberating your photos, God forbid you ever end up with photos in two separate iPhoto albums! Like one on your desktop and one on your laptop! Attempting to combine them means you’re going to have to literally spend money on third party software to make it happen. That is inconceivable! (You keep’a using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means…)
But again, Picasa makes this as simple as copying your photo directories to the other computer, and voila! It catalogs the images automatically. And you can still even gain access to those images with another piece of image editing or management software since the photos are just sitting there in directories, just like normal.
By comparison, the Picasa image editor screen places your image in a window on the right, and clearly displays all the tools on the left, and even some more options on the bottom of the screen. Absolutely anyone can figure out how to edit their images using this method. Even my dad. (Love ya Pop!)
- Next, let’s talk about the primary interface for a moment, shall we? iPhoto attempts to organize everything into “Events”, and while this might work for someone who doesn’t take that many photos, it will eventually grow completely out of control. For example, I have over 60,000 photos that I’ve taken over the last decade on my primary computer at home. They are neatly organized into directories. How in God’s name could I possibly organize them all into “Events”?
Picasa deals with this quite elegantly. It displays all of the directories on the left and they can be expanded as usual, then on the right side it displays a chrolological stream of the image thumbnails. While doing so it also manages to nicely integrate the ability to do other things such as sync the directory to the Web, burn a CD, change the directory name, and much more.
- In addition to the massive differences outlined above, there are a ton of little things that make all the difference between the two applications. For example, zooming in on an image. With Picasa you simply grab and drag the zoom bar at any time when looking at an image. In iPhoto you have to be in the edit menu. This almost drove me to drink!
If you also check that image above again, you’ll see that Picasa is constantly showing you all sorts of vital details about the image you’re viewing like the resolution, size on disk, etc. This detail is all buried in the iPhoto interface for no good reason whatsoever.
- Let’s talk about printing for a moment. My freakin iPhoto literally won’t print an image! I paid $79 for this software, and when I try to print it gives an error! I have to export an image and print it elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Picasa has a wonderful print wizard which basically lets you choose the size of the image, how many you want, and make adjustments to the print settings while you’re at it.
Believe me, I could go on for hours about how much better Picasa is, but I’m bored with all this documentation, and frankly if you aren’t sold on giving it a try yet, nothing is going to work. But to sum things up, you can also watch this little Google video that explains some of the features in more detail:
I hope that all of you Mac users out there give Picasa a serious try. You’ve got nothing to lose since, unlike iPhoto, it won’t lock you in or make irreversible changes to your photo library.
Thanks for your heads up article on Picasa for Mac. I sure will give it a try.
I too have developed a love hate relationship with all my Appel devices. Dam things are so “auto magic” that I often hate them. Both iPhoto n iMovie choke on them self trying to make thumbnails if you use them a lot. The iPad always feels to me that it is about to slip out of my hands. iMovie makes it difficult, almost a secret on how to delete footage which again causes it to choke on it’s self always regergatating thumbnails on your entire library when you are only using a tiny portion of it. Than there is the issue of there corporate greed, paying just a tad above slave wage but have over 100 BILLION in the bank n paying 4% tax to help maintain n operate the country they base there success from. Ain’t capitalism great…….. With 7 billion of us it is actually quite destructive……
Just like you I could go on n on but live is short of us all so I will not.
Ken Pichon says
I enjoyed your explanation of Picasa for Macs. I have been exploring Picasa on various forums, and evidently there are many glitches in Picasa for use with Apple OS X Lion 10.7. Could you take another newer look at Picasa for the newest Apple operating systems?
Joyce Eisen says
I just got an I mac after using a pc for years. I loved picasa and am trying to appreciate on the mac. My pictures in the web albums cannot be downloaded Help!! I want to use picasa but my movies aren’t playing.I have a collection of 7 years of pictures and movies on my pc. I would like to use them on my mac.
karen clarke says
Considering using PICASA on Mac. Can I upload to MobileMe Gallery from PICASA?
What a mess!! I downloaded Picasa, and it has made a mess of the photos from iPhoto – from some events, it only shows one photo. With others, it seems to have separated the photos into separate folders. Is there a different way to bring the photos into Picasa?
Feeling so frustrated with iphoto tonight, I googled picasa to see if I could download it to my Mac. Saw the “comparison” link and clicked on to see how the two compare. Just finished reading entire thread. People writing on here are a lot more knowledgeable than me about the software programs. While I do plan to add Picasa, I wonder if anyone could tell me why all the info I put in the “description” box (when clicking on a picture) disappeared when I merged the pictures into one event. Lots of time disappeared in one click! Anyway to retrieve the info? I thought what I wrote in the box that comes up when clicking on the i in right corner of pic would be safe and go wherever the picture went, but once merged, all boxes were empty.
Also wonder why the Key Photo changes when I add new pictures to an Event?
Appreciate any help! Thanks, V
Angelique Wynkoop says
ME in a nutshell: Mac to PC back to Mac for good now. Getting used to it again. Picasa user for a while now. Wondering if I need to migrate to iphoto (available on my new iMac). Found this lively discussion and I am now convinced to stick with Picasa. Thank you- you have helped me.
I have been a happy iPhoto user for a while, until the day I decided to move my photo library to an external hard-drive, in order to free some space on the disk.
Besides the fact that loading times became five times longer, It was still allright.
Then one day the whole library disappeared. The photos were still inside the iPhoto package, but apparently the software was unable to recognize their location.
I started extracting photos from the “giant ball”, and importing them back in iPhoto. The process was painful because they were all together, since the event division of the software did not correspond to a division in folders of the phisical data.
That was until I decided to try some other solution to save time. Turned out that Picasa could solve my problem in 2 minutes.
Guess what? I think I will switch to picasa from now on, the feeling is that it is a much more transparent system. Apple made a lot of great products, but unfortunately iPhoto is not one of them.
Actually now that I re-read your entire post it’s all built under the premise that you don’t have an understanding of the iphoto container and how it stores the originals by date. I just copied my originals folder and imported it into another iphoto on my laptop in 10 minutes…no 3rd party software.
If you can undestand and work with raw photos in picasa even low tech mac users (who often don’t like to know the tech behind the scenes) can figure this out with a good tutorial…
I cannot argue all of your gripes with iphoto as I seem many benefits to picasa too…but your first statements sees created on a lack of understanding how the photos are organized in a container with structure in iphoto. Right clicking on that iphoto library will show you a nice and easy folder structure to work with.
Tim Miller says
Love all things mac but you PEGGED it with IPhoto for sure.
I’m not even done reading what you wrote.. I just cant take it! :)
Hopefully some patches are out to fix the mac issues if a problem.
Thanks for your input!!
helen wardrop says
My problem is everytime I scan a document Picasa takes over, I cannot find out to cut and paste this document – in which to save me lots of time and hard work, I never had this problem under Windows XP and Picasa 2.7. I only discovered it this week after downloading Picasa 3.x. Do you think this a problem with Picasa version 3? Has anyone tried reverting to Picasa 2.7 if so how?????
Thanks, this is a great comparison. What about Picasa & Appleâ€™s Aperture?
I just trying face recognition on both stuff, i guess picasa is much better to recognize, and easier to operate it
Mary George says
I really liked your article and knew there had been some changes since you had first written it. Thank you very much. I need to know what I should do now. I have had the default “copy photos to library ” on all of this time….28,000 photos. I started on Picasa last night and love it! Except, the tree structure is very hard to read coming from the iphoto file structure. Some of my events are named and others are only dated. (I have most all my events named but they don’t show up that way in Picasa??) Also, I can’t move any photos to organize like I would want to. So! do I uncheck the “copy” default & continue or can I get all photos into Picasa & get rid of iphoto? I really want to be able to work in Picasa the Picasa way…it is easier. Here’s hoping that you are still following this thread because I really need some help here! (I also love my Mac, just not iphoto & it’s spinning beach ball!)
A Guy says
OK. Let me just say I’ve had a Mac, literally, since 1986. I love Macs. I love, generally, Apple’s software, but I will vouch, that as a “prosumer” photographer who wants untouched, original, archived versions of the 70,000 photos I have taken to be kept in their original dated folders, I readily, happily, eagerly choose Picasa.
I have always had issue with iPhoto, since version 1, mainly for the crappy way it shows small scale versions of every image when you try to “view” it (squint at it), but also for the ridiculous copying-all-my-photos default “feature.” But really, the deal breaker was my iPhone. I need iPhoto to get the pics off my iPhone and onto my Mac since it does not mount as a hard drive (like and iPod will) so iPhoto makes me choose, it will use your images folders as a “database” and view but don’t copy them (and the don’t copy “feature” diasbales/cripples the pull-imges from iPhone feature), OR copy the 70,000 images (2-3 days of time, thank you) and be run over by rampant duplicates.
Picasa is just easier… end of story. It finds/gets all my photos wherever they are and let’s me see them. Enough said.
John T. says
If I am not mistaken, editing dates in Picassa changes the exif file but only changes the iPhoto database in iPhoto. There are times when you need the exif file changed but I can’t see where you can do this in iPhoto.
Don Conrad says
Don’t you lose the resource sharing amongst the iLife apps if you use Picasa instead of iPhoto? I’m in the same boat – just got a Macbook Pro and have been using Picasa on my Win7 laptop and I’m not sure which to use on the Mac.
John P. says
Yes Don, you do indeed lose that ability if you use Picasa. I would also point out that both Picasa and iPhoto have undergone significant changes since I wrote this article, so each now do things that were weaknesses when I wrote it.
It’s a tough choice but I still use Picasa when I’m not using Photoshop + Adobe Bridge. You can always grab files directly from the hard drive to drop in iMovie as an example, but I find iPhoto unintuitive and generally sucky for photo management.
Charlie White says
“Events” are just a different way of displaying the whole of the photo library, you can also use “Faces” which names people in your pictures, “Places” which organizes pictures on a map or you could organize photos in albums or specify criteria for smart albums. I have to admit though, Iphoto is the buggiest program on my computer and one of the few I ever need to force quit.
Nice blog post! I just installed Windows 7 on my pal’s iMac 24 inch and I’m looking for a good photo management app. I agree with you on the Picasa thingy. I’m gonna install it now. Thanks for the report.
I assume there’s a iPhoto import on the latest Windows Picasa version?
– Max “The IT pro”
C. Tripp says
Image files do not necessarily have to be imported into iPhoto. The files can be left as a â€œReferenced libraryâ€. Just make sure to remove the default option for â€œCopy items to the iPhoto libraryâ€ under Preferences> Advanced in the iPhoto menu. Only images that are edited or changed in any way will stay within the library file but all your original files will stay in their original location.
Anthony Wakefield says
It’s a shame iPhoto has to be picky with it’s file organisation… i really enjoy the slideshow features, which is great for showing off photos to others with the transitions and music. I also like the way it’ll put all your photo’s on a map, and a bunch of other small things.
Personally i haven’t run into much issue with the way the files are organised, i guess i’ve learnt to adapt to it. But having to choose ‘export’ or drag and drop a bunch of photo’s on the desktop just to get at them is a bit annoying.
Apple like things that ‘Just work’ and their hardware is great for this. I think however that having things ‘Just work’ software wise involves dumbing things down to the lowest common denominator, and they never like to make things tooo complicated in case things ‘Don’t work’.
C. Tripp says
Same as the author: I also prefer the Mac for most computing operations. Having said that; for years and years I used ACDSee Pro for Windows; but after Apple introduced face recognition and after I moved to a Mac just over two years ago, I wanted/liked the features of iPhoto but disliked very much, same as the author; to have my files locked in some obscure database.
But I learned minutes after of getting my fist Mac up and running; that image files do not necessarily have to be imported into iPhoto (or Aperture, since it works in similar fashion when importing files) and so the files can be left as a “Referenced library”. I have over 13,000 images that were imported in less than 20 minutes. I just had to make sure to remove the default option for “Copy items to the iPhoto library” under Preferences> Advanced in the iPhoto menu.
Nevertheless, thank you for the comparison and review. I will try the new version of Picasa as soon as I get a chance this week end. It does seem to have become more powerful and easier to use than iPhoto and it seems to handle folders and directories the same way as ACDSee Pro does and being $200 cheaper, one can’t go wrong! Although I understand Apple tried to make things as simple as possible and this usually means that experienced users feel limited.
Maybe moving up to Aperture is the answer, but at times overkill too.
By the way, iTunes can do the same; I let iTunes organize the music and movies I’ve bought in its \iTunes Media folder, but I keep my other music files neatly organized my genre and artist on a separate directory. It has worked very well for me for years, even before moving to a Mac.
Thanks for your effort John! I hate the way iTunes and iPhotos copies and reorganises everything into something that no other software can read and no one can extract them out without using Apple softwares/ Mac. It leaves no flexibility for the future and it is so difficult to share information with others, not the way to go.
iPhoto does have a good interface and edits photos easily. It’s Flickr and facebook sharing functions are great, and it integrates well with other Mac softwares that some processes are automated and that is very cool. But if you don’t want to be forced to stuck with Apple forever, and able to share your files with your friends easily, DO NOT USE iPhoto! I do not want to use iTunes for the same reason, but have to use it for my iPhone and iPod!
l quan says
You are absolutely right!!! I have spent 1 week trying to import my 17,000 pictures from my NAS drive. Iphoto imports them one every 20-30 second! No, I did not have it copy the photos-this would take longer. The software is slow as a dog. It was the same on my son’s macbook pro. I love my mac for surfing the web but Iphoto is just crapware. I downloaded picasa and it found and organized all those same photos in 10 minutes!
Sorry mac fanboys. I have used both macs and pc. Picasa is much better than Iphoto.
John P. says
Well, the fact that iLarynx left the comments like 6 months after my original post is enough reason not to respond. And the fact that you are leaving this almost exactly one year after my post is even more ridiculous. Hell, new versions of both of these apps have been released multiple times now!!!
There are literally 1,600 posts on this blog. I can not be expected to respond to every single comment left on every post even years after they were written.
The way I look at it is this:
I did YOU a favor by making my comparison between these two pieces of software. If nothing else, I gave you a good head start as to what things to look out for. iLarynx came along with some different opinions, which I happily let stand when I could have deleted them. So what the hell do YOU exactly want from me? I’m not a trained monkey, and I don’t see you offering me anything in exchange for my time other than criticism.
Besides all of that, you have the nerve to call me out by name, and then leave an anonymous critique? That is just plain bad form. If you are going to call someone out, have the decency to stand up for your comments. Otherwise, if you are too ashamed to be counted for what you have to say… don’t say it!
Missing Responses says
I wonder why you didn’t respond to @iLarynx’s detailed response to your subjective comparison points. Did you even bother trying anything that @iLarynx or the others said?
Good for you that you’re more of an expert on Picasa than on iPhoto since you use Picasa. But have a look at what others have to say and at least acknowledge that you might be wrong. You seem to be very strong headed in your opinions and don’t seem to listen to/understand what others say.
Michael Vorburger says
The https://sites.google.com/site/iphotoexport/ tool looks interesting to e.g. use iPhoto as “master” and Picasa for Mac for its PicasaWeb sync feature.
Sorry I just had a thought after re-reading this. You mentioned “Bundle” I was wondering if you meant because some people may not have their pictures already organized? That may make it a pain, because I’m not sure how either Picasa or iPhoto organizes in that situation? I have always kept my pictures organized very strictly, because I make money of some and I like knowing where my files are without having to think abut where a specific one is. That’s another reason I like Picasa so far. Even though I am organized, the initial set up of loading my pictures in iPhoto is my only pain with it. I don’t use my picture folder, I have things organized in a weird way that just happens to work for me, so I have to manually do each folder and it’s time consuming. With Picasa I can just start it up and it searches by it’s self.
Anyway, I just wanted to add that.
LOL, well at least you’re not afraid of criticism. Ok well I simply took 100 images at full resolution and burned them to a disk. It took as long as it does to burn the disk. I’m not sure if your use to an older version of iPhoto or what, but it doesn’t take long at all to do anything in iPhoto. I also like the fact that you can upload to facebook, Flickr, iWeb, etc. Picasa you need a plugin just to use facebook. Having said that…
My chief complaint with the program is that it does copy your photos to it’s library (if you didn’t disable that function). Having said that, it doesn’t move them at all. My other issue is more of a personal preference, although not that big of a deal, in that when you download new images to the computer iPhoto will not know anything about it until you manually put them in, except if you have it set up to detect your camera, which I wouldn’t do anyway because I shoot in RAW and prefer the software that came with the camera for processing RAW files.
What I do like about Picasa thus far, is that you don’t have to import or load the pictures, it does it for you, I like that you can restrict where it searches for pictures as well. It’s face recognition seems better than iPhotos also, which is a treat. My Wife like playing with the collages, and it seems to handle my large amount of files without much of a slow down. Best of all it doesn’t copy my pictures. However, I am curious, it has the ability to revert your pictures back to original, so I have to assume it’s storing the ones you edit somewhere, just like iPhoto when you have the copying function disabled. Which isn’t all that big a problem for me since I edit my RAW in DPP and more creative stuff in Photoshop CS4.
I am disappointed that you can’t do customize or portfolios and calendars with it (unless there is a plugin somewhere I haven’t found?) All in all, I’m going to keep it as my photo manager, because it handles my needs better than iPhoto. But as far as exporting or extracting being a pain it’s not, and I did do you challenge. I also haven’t seen anything in Picasa for burning files to a cd for backup? If there is I would appreciate knowing where?
If you would like to setup any other challenge let me know. I can screen record to show I’m not cheating :) Have a great day and Happy Holidays.
John P. says
Oh really? Hmmm. Well, iPhoto is a very rudamentary image management system. Personally I’m using Adobe Bridge. And, my friend, I’m regret having to be the one to tell you… but if you think iPhoto is easy to get our images out, you are just plain wrong.
I’ll tell you what. We can have a little wager. Each of us will find 100 image that we need to transfer to another person in full resolution. You can try and get them out of the iPhoto “bundle” of images, and I’ll just copy the directory I’ve got them in. And after I’m done I’ll go get you some coffee and a snack while you are waiting.
You simply can’t get around the fact that iPhoto moves all of your images into one big retarded file by default. The only relief is to turn that option off.
Now, if you turn it off and want to use Picasa and iPhoto together, and iPhoto makes backups of the images, then Picasa will see the backups each time you launch it as it automatically searches the folders and adds the ones it didn’t see before.
Anyway, good luck to you.
I was looking for a good comparison so I could decide if I wanted to continue using iphoto or go with picasa. I have to say though, after using iphoto since it first came out, your statement which reads… “First of all, I hate any sort of application that unnecessarily forces itâ€™s users into a proprietary closed platform. And right off the bat, iPhoto does this (just like freakin iTunes!). You see, when you import photos into an iPhoto library it basically takes all of your individual pictures and lumps them into a giant ball, from which the average users can no longer extract them without great pain!
Clearly they do this for the sole purpose of excluding the use of any other image editing software once theyâ€™ve got their grubby hands on your photos, because once they are imported you are going to have one heck of a time getting them OUT of iPhoto without making a huge mess. (You can opt out of this default behavior, but most people donâ€™t know that.)” Is soooo completely wrong!
I want to look for an alternative simply because I have over 50gb pictures and I don;t want them to double up which will happen with iphoto, even if you do not allow iphoto to copy them to it’s library, becaue if you adjust any of them backs up the original to its library anyhow. But as far as extracting? and a pain? You obviously don’t know much of anything about iphoto. Your original pictures are exactly where they were, so no pain there.You can still edit in whatever you want. If you’re going to compare the two products, atleast get your facts straight and be non biased. As soon as you become biased and not t mention trashing the opposing software, regardless of what it is, your credibility goes right out the window.
I use Picasa on pc, and have gigabytes (probably 70) with names tagged, and captions, etc. If I make the switch to a Mac, and use picasa for mac, will I be able to keep all the name/caption data, or will that be a “start from scratch” scenario?
Interesting heated debate! Thank you all, as I have learnt few things out of it… As I stopped using iphoto since I edited & moved the iphoto’s library/database which caused problems for me. I used picasa since until then I got iphone 3GS which required sync with iphoto! That’s how I am back using it! The point is I am looking up this, I want to reduce the size of photos while I am using both picasa and iphoto, without having two copies of photos each!!
Picasa 3.5 now also includes facial recognition, so there is no longer any reason to get iPhoto.
Mike K says
Not to beat a dead horse…I have been using Picasa on Windows for years. I just purchased an iMac for movies and music production, but there are a few features I like about iPhoto. The problem is each have their advantages and disadvantages and it is too bad I can’t have the best of both worlds (Let me know if I am missing something)
Putting aside how the files are managed, here are my likes (and thus dislikes of the other app):
What I love about Picasa:
o Easy editing. – I like the simple click approach
o Red Eye reduction – I like the ways it’s done, pretty slick
o Effects – more effects than iphoto and there are a few core ones I use all the time
What is missing:
Being able to create a DVD slide show. I mean iPhoto style. I want slick themes, easy ways to drop in music…Picasa does not give you that.
Color adjustment – it would seem from using it for two weeks (the iMac with iPhoto and Picasa for Mac, that iPhoto color adjustment is better, more granular
What I like about iPhoto
Being able to create slideshows for DVD- pretty straightforward. Other than that, I don’t need iPhoto.
If I had a good way to do that with Picasa, or if someone knows of a good program for Picasa, I would use Picasa.
How do I get everything that Picasa gives me with the slideshow capability of iPhoto? (I guess I can have iPhoto do it by importing into iPhoto, but I assume I just made 2 copies of my files…
Joe C says
Thanks for the comparison. It’s obvious that you have put a lot of time into outlining why you feel Picasa is a better choice for photo management. I would like to offer this perspective for consideration. I say this as a Mac user…
Apple designs their computer and software for the lowest common denominator (one button mouse…still?!?). Google designs their for middle of the road or higher. The defaults in Apple software are all about protecting the user from themselves. Google’s defaults place the power in the hands of the user from the start. Depending on your perspective, this can be either a good or a bad thing.
I personally prefer more control and options. When I am helping my parents across the country, I thank god that they went Mac and use the default apps with default settings. i think that iPhoto offers just as much in the power and features category, but they are certainly not default. I happen not to be a fan of Picasa simply because I don’t like the Google UI; just like I love my gmail account, but hate the flow of that UI too.
Jim Pendleton says
Your responses hve been very helpful. I am a new Mac owner since May ’09 after all these years using Windows and was trying to decide what package to use, iPhoto or Picasa. I have some previous experience using Picasa and liked its enhancement features. In your opinion, does iPhoto compromise at all in this regard?
Is there a way to import albums from iphoto into picassa?
Picassa automatically imported all my iphoto events, but i spent a lot of time creating my albums, and i’d like to move them into picassa so that I can share them over the web… is there an easy way to do this?
Pablo Teodoro says
All things considered, thank you for the blog post. I am using iPhoto 6 and don’t want to spend the money to upgrade to ’09. Picasa should do the trick.
John P. says
I’m assuming you’ve probably found this already? But here are all the keyboard shortcuts for Picasa.
You can add a star with Ctrl+8, add keywords (tags) with Ctrl+T, etc. Not sure if there are as many as iPhoto because I’m not a shortcut guy, but there are quite a few nonetheless.
Ben Ransom says
I’m currently trying to settle with Picasa3 on Win 7 after having gotten very happy with iPhoto over the last couple years. One iphoto feature I really miss in picasa is the ability to use hotkeys to easily add (or remove) ratings or keywords to individual photos. In iphoto, one quickly do this with a left hand ticking away at the shortcuts, the right hand triggering to the next photo.
Brenda Renning says
Not an iPhoto hater, but I agree there are more editing tools in Picasa, the Glow and Focal B&W tools create stunning effects. I love how I don’t have to import all of my photos to it, because it recognizes my images no matter where they are on my computer. If I do need to edit a photo not ‘living’ in Picasa, it makes a copy first and leaves the original image alone. Terrific feature!
Another strong feature of Picasa is the ability to scroll through a folder’s photos without having to go into edit mode the way you have to in iPhoto ’08.
Good grief! What a ridiculous and awful “comparison.” Picasa has some benefits over iPhoto and vice versa. And some of this just comes down to personal preference. But the writer is so obviously biased (and uninformed about at least half of his subject matter), that the whole thing is a joke. I can almost see his arms flailing and him chugging his eighth mug of Hyper-Caf coffee for the day while banging away on his keyboard.
The writer certainly gives the impression that he decided before he even opened iPhoto for the first time to generate a hit-piece on it. While there are valid criticisms to be made about iPhoto, it’s hard to find any valid ones here.
The writer cries that he’s “objective,” but his first bulleted paragraph proves otherwise: “First of all, I hate…” Hate is a wholly SUBjective emotion. A truly objective writer would have written HOW the importing process differs between the two and why one is logically superior to the other. Not how emotionally charged he is against Apple products. The writer admits early on that he has let his emotions get the better of him. And it shows.
As others have pointed out, the claims about iPhoto’s file organization are inaccurate. I use GraphicConverter and PhotoShop to manipulate photos from iPhoto (for those requiring more professional manipulation than offered in iPhoto) with no problem at all. There is absolutely no problem using 3rd party software with iPhoto images. The writer clearly has a Windows-centric mindset in finding benefit in a program that forces you to go OUTSIDE of the application itself to use the OS to organize his photos. If that’s how you’ve habituated you way of work, fine. That’s a personal preference, not a failing of the application that allows you to organize your photos within the app itself and not have to go out to the OS to do this. But somehow, for some reason, this approach of bounding back and forth between app and OS is seen as more elegant. Personal preference, sure, but not more efficient in my experience. I see the Windows OS file tree as a decidedly “messier” approach than using the iPhoto Export button.
On a related note, I have no problem using my iTunes files on other programs too. What audio device doesn’t play MP3s these days? Another factual error by the author of this “comparison.”
More errors in the second bullet:
“God forbid you ever end up with photos in two separate iPhoto albums! Like one on your desktop and one on your laptop! Attempting to combine them means youâ€™re going to have to literally spend money on third party software to make it happen. That is inconceivable!”
Yes! Inconceivable! Unbelievable! And flat WRONG!
I pull photos from my camera to iPhoto on my laptop while on the road. When I get home, I move them to my desktop iPhoto over the network. (“Drag and drop” – Ever heard of it?).
Others have already pointed out that the Events grouping is but one option for organizing your photos. Apparently, a Windows-centric user may thrown into a tizzy with out the comfort of their OS file tree. Sounds like a persona preference/problem.
Again, a personal preference. (If this triviality drives someone to drink, they’ve already got one hand on the bottle).
Again, others have already addressed this. I’ve never had a problem printing from iPhoto. Sounds like user error.
As a favor, from the writer’s question in the comments:
“Perhaps you can enlighten us as to how I can combine 3 seperate iPhoto albums then? Cause Iâ€™ve got 3. If they were in any other photo software I would just merge the folders together on my hard drive. So Iâ€™m dying to learn how I, and everyone else, can easily combine them.”
Are you asking how to combine 3 ALBUMS as you say, or 3 separate iPhoto LIBRARIES?
IF ALBUMS, as was stated –
You have albums A, B, C, and you want to combine all three into Album A.
Open Album B
Choose “Select All” to select all the photos in Album B
Drag the photos to Album A
Repeat for Album C
Delete Albums B & C, if you like.
I know. Multiple clicks. Pour yourself a glass of gin if you feel the need.
IF LIBRARIES –
Import albums B & C into Album A.
Picasa is a fine program, but my preference is for iPhoto even though a really like some of Google’s other apps. I use iPhoto as a photo catalogue, and an quick editor for simple tweaks. If I need to do more manipulation, I use GraphicConverter. If heavy duty stuff is required, Photoshop comes into play. With the latest versions of iPhoto however, I find the need to use GraphicConverter less frequently since the editing tools in iPhoto have become more robust, and includes a histograph as well – a very handy tool for cleaning up photos. Picasa makes you click a button to get the histogram. It’s not there like the zoom slider! Oh, woe is the poor Picasa user who has to click a button as does the iPhoto user! Actually, I’m not going to whine about how “inconceivable” this is, or start swigging cheap gin.
I don’t particularly care for Picasa’s limited tool set (probably because I’m less familiar with it), and the initial import glitched, importing every darn image on my drive when I specified a much more limited import, but at least it was a fast import, even though I had to go back and clear out a bunch of junk I didn’t want in that library. But I really like the nested files in Picasa, as that can be very handy.
Overall though, I’ve found iPhoto to be much more feature rich. The musical slideshow is not something everyone would bother with, but the ability to take a bunch of photos and put them instantly into a musically and visually entertaining slide show in a single click is one our kids really get a kick out of, especially right after a trip to the beach, camping, etc. iPhoto allows you you to export to iDVD, MobileMe, Flickr, or Facebook in one click. Again, this may or may not be a big plus depending on your individual use of these products. I haven’t found were Picasa can do this (but I also won’t rail about how “inconceivable” it is that Google left these features out of Picasa, or dream up some conspiracy theory as to why Google would do such a thing). You can also use “Smart Albums” in iPhoto and let you keep your online web gallery up to date automatically and in the background. iPhoto also allows you the option to share (view) photos directly with other networked computers with iPhoto. iPhoto works seamlessly with iTunes to sync your photos with your iPod or iPhone. The same goes for iMovie and iWeb too. I could go on for hours…
It’s unfortunate that this blogger couldn’t get past his personal prejudices and produce an accurate and honest comparison of these two products. As such, the “comparison” as it is with its bias and errors, is pretty much worthless.
The writer started off describing how he was “forced” to use a Mac at work and “complained – a lot” over it, only to realize after actually using a Mac that he “…actually prefer[s] the Mac for most computing operations.” If he had done his homework on the new and unfamiliar item, he might have found he really didn’t have anything to complain about (as he later learned). I think the same rule applies to this iPhoto/Picasa “comparison.”
P.S. Thanks for the article on 3rd hand smoke. Very informative.
former PC user (switched to mac in 2007)
Very happy be rid of the headaches of windows.
But iphoto is sub par, and I’ve been missing picasa.
Picasa has a much smaller footprint, the library loads faster, and does not mess with filestructure. Quite happy its on mac now!!
John P. says
I realize that what we are talking about here is certainly a matter of personal preference, and I also realize that it seems like apples-vs-oranges to some people, but from my perspective I still feel like my comparison is objective because in the end I’m comparing two different photo management tools.
Now I will take issue with the comment that iPhoto is free. It was not free for me. I paid $79 at the Apple store to get iHome so that I could have this app. Plus, if it had come for free, when the next version comes out I would still have to pay for it.
Don’t get me wrong, the fact that Picasa is free has very little bearing on my desire to use it. In fact, I’m about to plunk down a bundle of cash for Photoshop to do some more advanced stuff…
Anyway, thanks for the comments. I’m not going to restate all my previous comments. Obviously I’ve laid out my position pretty thoroughly here, if not well. The good news is simply that Mac users now have a choice! The iPhoto lovers can stick with it, and people who want to give something else a try now have Picasa.
I for one, have uninstalled my iPhoto and am glad to be rid of it.
Mikael Fransson says
Calm down guys;-) It’s a matter of personal preference but John…you can’t honestly say that you have an objective comparison.
iPhoto does have an export of originals that does no processing, just a copy. Same as Picasa would do if you wish to do that.
iPhoto allows you to define an external editor just as Picasa allows you to open with another editor.
iPhoto does allow you to store your photos in folders managed by yourself outside iPhoto if you want. Which is better..again personal preference. I used to do it the Picasa way…I switched after a couple of years on the Mac. I’m really just interested in finding my images. I don’t care about how they are stored. Same as you do with other data stored in databases (not that iPhoto uses one but there is a clear analogy). Some people are comfortable seeing where the images is stored…fine. What I do like with iPhoto is the tagging, Smart Folders, rating. Some of that is present in Picasa and that’s good.
You compare Albums in iPhoto with Folders in Picasa. That’s Apples vs Oranges. iPhoto’s Folders are called Events. They can be merged and split by drag and drop or selecting a bunch images and click…split. Albums in Picasa can’t be merged either from what I can see.
Just discovered that you used the term Albums when refering to Libraries in iPhoto. iPhoto allows you to have several Libraries (databases if you wish) on the same drive or on separate drives. I find this pretty handy since all the metadata travles with the Library. My Albums, tags, ratings, calendars, photo books etc. I create a new Library for each calendar year. I spent all of $20 on a third party tool that allows me to manage these libraries. Merge them, copy stuff between them etc.
Picasa is more of an image indexer since it doesn’t really move your files. I just tried to split a folder in Picasa…didn’t work. It renamed the folder on my disk…
A final comment…the angry tone towards iPhoto in your “review” doesn’t help. It takes away most if not all credibility. How do you read similar reviews yourself? Lots of people like iPhoto, it’s free with any Mac. It’s different from most other programs out there but so is the Mac as a whole compared to Windows, Linux etc. That’s why people like them;-)
Anyone still on the fence between Picasa for Mac and iPhoto needs to take another look at Picasa v3.0.4 which just released yesterday (Mar 3, 2009). Google has not only fixed the washed out look of Picasa’s photos (in comparison to those of iPhoto) but they’re now even better.
Zoomed in portions of high definition pictures now clearly show Picasa with slightly more contrast definition than iPhoto, no more washed out look, and an overall crisper look to it’s photos. I’m a long-time Mac user and iPhoto fan…but Picasa is simply a better management tool if you’re comparing picture quality, photo management, editing tool, and seamless integration with Picasa Web Albums.
First of all, i’m not going to argue about most of your arguments because i really i’m not an expert in Picasa. I just want to say that you’re wrong when you write that iPhoto desorganize your photo library, and it’s easy to explain why:
1- All your albums and events are stored in a file called iPhoto library.
2- It’s easy to access to that folder, just right click!
3- Then, you see that your albums and events are stored there in files just like you named them in iPhoto.
4- I just transfered all my photos from my mac to a pc and it was easy, just save the files found in iPhoto Library and put them in a folder on a pc.
I must say that i’m using picasa on my pc, and i just can’t understand why you say iPhoto sucks. I dislike iTunes just to give you an example, but i think iPhoto is a good piece of software.
I recently switched from Windows with Picasa to Mac with iPhoto. And I can’t see why you are so against iPhoto, John P. You seem to have made up your mind before trying iPhoto. I knew nothing about iPhoto and went for it just through necessity – it was a few weeks before Picasa was released for Mac.
Yes, it is put into a package, but in almost all of Leopard, you can access the files directly through the Media sidebar (it will show up as normal files but in a Photo collection). I guess I would prefer the photos to not be in a package, but it is not a deal breaker. The reason they put it in a package is probably to keep users from meddling with the files, and to make it more efficient to access the files in a database manner (my guess, only). Locking people in – yes, perhaps, but that is also Google’s strategy (although in other ways than file packages) – and any big software company’s strategy.
Exporting photos from iPhoto is as quick as copying if you chose the original ones. It takes the same time as copying in a file system!
I am in now way sure that iPhoto will be the photo manager of my choice in the future, but it is certainly not as bad as you portray it. I was happily surprised to see how easy to use it was – and again, I did use Picasa for years in Windows.
John P. says
There is no reason whatsoever, and I mean no reason at all, in the universe, for any application to take a whole series of photos and lump them into one giant ball from which the average user cannot extract them. The option shouldn’t even exist, much less be the default.
Absolutely not. You are quite naive my friend if you believe that the decision to do this had nothing to do with locking people into using the software and paying for upgrades year after year. It’s the exact same logic Apple used with iTunes. And they are the ONLY company on Earth that do this crap with either music or photo files. So, everyone else cannot be wrong.
Perhaps you can enlighten us as to how I can combine 3 seperate iPhoto albums then? Cause I’ve got 3. If they were in any other photo software I would just merge the folders together on my hard drive. So I’m dying to learn how I, and everyone else, can easily combine them.
Absolutely! In the first instance, you are creating a separate instance of the images altogether! Plus, you have to wait for the freaking software to process every single image while it “exports” even a full size unadjusted image. It will take 10 times longer and use up double the storage space!
I’m comparing the main viewing widow of both apps. I can’t help it that iPhoto’s window sucks, the buttons aren’t labeled, they disappear, and is non-intuitive.
Drive by insults aren’t going to make iPhoto suck less. There is a reason why so many people agree with me and why Picasa is such a popular app. Feel free to write a blog post yourself and show us all proof of iPhotos superiority. I’ll happily link to your dissenting opinion!
John “the moron” P.
Thank you John, for your analysis, the best and most illuminating I have read so far on the subject of iphoto vs.picasa. I am not a tech person, just a mac user since 2005. I love all apple products i have purchased and used except iphoto and iTune. I just could not make these two work for me efficiently, and did not know exactly why… The way iphoto and iTune works just does not make sense to me … Your blog, together with the counter points made by your guests, have convinced me to switch to Picasa for Mac. I will spend time exploring picasa for mac, knowing that it’s worthy of my time. Thanks so much !
Terry Devlin says
I’ve read the article and it’s clear that you don’t know very much about iPhoto.
While this is the default setting – to copy the files into a Unix style package file – it can be changed with a single tick in the Preferences. There are literally more than a dozen ways to access your files with iPhoto, running, not running, whatever – including being available in every Open… dialogue in the OS.
This is simply untrue. There is no difficulty using any other editing software at all. You can set Photoshop (or any image editor) as an external editor in iPhoto. (Preferences -> General -> Edit Photo: Choose from the Drop Down Menu.) This way, when you double click a pic to edit in iPhoto it will open automatically in Photoshop or your Image Editor, and when you save it it’s sent back to iPhoto automatically. Plus your inference on motive is just, well, mindless.
Again, simply untrue. While iPhoto Library Manager facilitates the process it’s not necessary.
I’m not sure how selecting the pics in the iPhoto Window and going File -> Export (or Drag and Drop) to the portable media is inherently more “messy” that dragging a folder to the portable media. Can you explain?
Comparing the Full Screen view of iPhoto with the Windowed version of Picasa is, well, either sloppy or dishonest. But, you know the tools are at the side vs the tools are at the bottom. Wow.
I’ll not go on to do a tedious line by lne comparison – but there are many other inaccuracies in your trieatment of iPhoto – no you don’t have to be in edit mode to zoom into a pic and so on. I also notice that you treat as typical an obvious install error and neglet to mention that Picasa is utterly devoid of Colour Management etc.
I think that if you’re going to compare the two apps it’s useful if you actually know something about them.
Larry McJunkin says
As much as I like Picasa, here’s one more MINUS for it. Try printing out any picture in both Picasa and iPhoto on the same printer. The Picasa pic is slightly washed out compared to the same pic in iPhoto.
That said…looking at only one or the other and most folks would never see a difference. I read something somewhere about why this happens, but I can’t find it now.
Larry McJunkin says
While I very much agree with John P that Picasa 3 for Mac is better than iPhoto 09, Picasa still has a problem for anyone trying it first…e.g. importing all their iPhoto pics to Picasa. Here’s what happens:
In iPhoto, under “Albums” you can add folders, then add albums to those folders. E.g. I have a folder named “Vacations” and the albums in that folder are “Vacation 2008”, “Vacation 2007″, *Trip to Vancouver”, etc. Thus I have maybe 20 primary folders and hundreds of albums in them instead of hundreds of albums displaying without knowing what they’re related to. Pretty easy scheme for someone who takes a lot…or a few pictures and one of the most popular ways to organize photos in iPhoto.
With Picasa, when it imports from iPhoto (and subsequently stays sync’d with iPhoto) folders are hardwired to the “folder years” timeline it imports from iPhoto when it’s first being installed. So I have “2009, 2008, 2007, etc.” as Picasa folders and I can’t add folders or subfolders as Picasa only uses actual folders from my hard drive (or in this case from iPhoto’s database). If I try to manually add a folder to Picasa it brings up the Folder Manager so I can select an actual folder from my hard drive structure on my Mac. Yes, all this can be changed by “permanently” moving to Picasa and removing iPhoto and it’s horrid database completely from your Mac, but most folks won’t think to do this.
Further, if you think you can solve this by simply adding albums to Picasa that match your folder/album names (like Vacation) in iPhoto and then adding subfolders to each of these, forget it. Picasa doesn’t allow sub-albums, so most of us would have an album tree in Picasa about 10 page scrolls long. The only way to use Picasa to its fullest capabilities, is to recreate your photo folder structure manually under /Pictures and forget iPhoto altogether…then Picasa is truly the best of the two. WARNING…don’t do this unless you are absolutely SURE you want to stay with Picasa, as bringing all those photos back to iPhoto and recreating your old folder/album structure is one major PITA.
Laura Brooks says
Thanks for posting this! I recently got a Mac (like you, for work) and like you, was a little iffy at first. I like many things about it now, but I have never liked iPhoto. I thought it was just me – maybe I just didn’t understand how to use it properly. But your article really confirms what I’ve been suspecting, and I will definitely give Picasa a try! Thanks.
Jacques Snyman says
It seems like you ruffled Michael’s tail feathers a bit there, John! His perspective seems a bit different to yours, he is obviously not a Google fan!
Michael Dodd says
First of all.. You DO NOT HAVE TO ORGANIZE IPHOTO by events.. you can organize them by your own albums which is like using folders. Same thing.
Second of All. to get a photo out of iPhoto, you simply drag it out.. VERY HARD indeed.
Third of All iPhoto is not closed because even Picasa and Photoshop can access it’s libraries with no problems. All the user have to do is right click on iPhoto’s libraries and choose “show package contents” and all the photo’s are there in folders. (if you don’t want to simply just drag them out of iPhoto)
The editing tools themselves are of better quality in iPhoto and I use Photoshop for alot of my stuff too.. iPhoto is more for professionaly use where Picasa is for web posting of photos (and it’s what PC users are used too.. more visable options and less work space). the only thing Picasa really offers over iPhoto is collages but I can do better collages in iWork or Photoshop. It’s also FREE. that is an advantage but organizationally, I’m sorry iPhoto has way more options and better quality tools.
Picasa for Mac, yeahh !
Great post, John. glad you broke it down because IPhoto truly does suck and is quite the hog besides.
John P. says
That would be a very short article indeed. :-)
John P. says
Trust me, the only cool thing about the new version of iPhoto is facial recognition. Picasa still kicks it’s ass. Plus, Picasa just got an upgrade from version 2 to 3. So both of them added new features, but iPhoto still sucks! ;-)
Steve S. says
Thanks for the alert. I did not know this existed. I do not like iPhoto either. I will be downloading as soon as I hit this add comment button.
John and Terry debating which program works better on a mac? I feel an icy cold emanating from beneath my feet.
What’s next…an article on John’s favorite vegetables?
I will give it a try but some of your points may be off since there is a new iPhoto released today.