I wrote a series of posts early last year on Google Picasa 3.0. The posts covered getting started, views, editing, special effects and exporting. That’s still an entirely valid introduction to the product, but along with the rest of the world, things have changed at Picasa.
Google have, along with a plethora of other products, been updating Picasa. The current version is 3.6. If for some reason you’ve stuck with 3.5 then most of this is still valid. For anyone with an older version, it’s time to move on. After all, the price couldn’t be better.
Picasa is available for Windows and Mac. For the purposes of this guide, I’ll be running Windows 7. Pick up the current Picasa version here. Read my older tutorials first if you need a leg-up. I’m going to dive straight into the biggest change. The other item of interest in 3.6 is geo-tagging. I’ll talk about that in another post. There’s enough here already.
Picasa Face Recognition & Tagging
The Picasa face recognition feature was actually added in 3.5, but it’s improved significantly. Just accept it and move on. If you’re familiar with Picasa Web Albums you might well have already seen this working. I’m focused on the local Picasa version here though.
What’s The Idea?
The concept is pretty simple, really. Picasa will scan your images and do two things. Firstly it will find the ones that it thinks have faces in them, and then it will do its best to find those photos which are of the same person. I’m not really much of a people photographer, so I will have to pick on my kids for the best set of examples. They’ll get me back for this later, you can be sure.
Install or update Picasa to 3.6 (I’m doing a fresh install) and go from there.
When Picasa starts and does its normal drive and folder scanning, it undertakes an extra task of scanning for faces.
When the scanning is finished, you’ll have an album called Unnamed people.
Start on whichever image you like. Click the Add a name box below the image, and start to type the name of the person. Hit the enter key on completion.
Picasa will compare the name supplied with those it already has, and decide if you need to add some more details.
It’s handy, if you use Picasa Web Albums, to be logged in while you do this, as Picasa can then surreptitiously lift the details from your Google contacts. I’m running this old-school, so it’s expecting to find the details locally.
In this case, my daughter Sophie is not yet in the list, so I’m prompted to add some more details.
Click the New Person button and add whatever other information you would like for this person. Click OK.
And that’s it. Continue through your files, adding people as necessary. You’ll notice that those names you’ve already added will pop up as you start to type the names again. Just choose them from the list.
Alternatives abound. Firstly, you can right-click the image and choose Move to People Album, and then select the appropriate person from the list. If that appeals, you can also select multiple images (using CTRL-click) and then right-click to assign them all at once.
Presumably there are some people in the images you don’t recognise. There are two options. For most of mine I called my wife into the room and asked her. The downside to that was that she forbade me to use her likeness in the post.
The rest you can deal with by clicking on the small black cross at the top right of the image. You will be asked to confirm that you want to ignore that person. Note that using similar language with your spouse is discouraged on health grounds.
In the course of all of that, you’ve almost certainly had some automatic assignments taking place. That is, the Picasa face recognition engine has guessed who the person is in some of the images. In my case (and I was using three siblings and their mother!) the guesses were mostly right on the mark.
In any case, you need to confirm or decline the auto assignments. Take a look at the last few images in the album for any particular person.
If you have any auto images, they will look like this. A small orange triangle at bottom left, and two buttons; a tick, and a cross.
Click the tick to confirm that the assignment is correct, or the cross to decline.
Either the buttons will disappear, or the image will be returned to the Unnamed album.
Work your way through any others.
After the manual and auto tagging is complete, you’ll be able to see the names of people in the images, and be able to search on the basis of the names.
One other nifty trick is the ability to create a collage or movie presentation from the images of a particular person. Nick, for instance:
Somehow my other son, David, has escaped entirely. I’ll catch up with him later”¦
So there it is. If you can get just a little organised with this, it’s certainly going to be easier when it comes time to embarrass the small people on their birthdays, right?
I’ll be back soon with a post on geo-tagging.
How are you finding Picasa? It’s been a while since I wrote about it, but I continue to be impressed. Any problems? Tips? Let me know in the comments.