How To Use Facial Recognition in Picasa Web Albums

Tim Lenahan 25-07-2009

Picasa has integrated some cool technology in the past, but facial recognition?


In Picasa Web Albums, Google has integrated a newer technology that I think you’ll be amazed with at how well it works.  In choosing which website to use to host my photographs, this feature may be a game-ender. Watch how it works, try it for yourself, and see if the facial recognition feature doesn’t turn your head too!

I would like to introduce you to what facial recognition is, show you its benefits within Picasa Web Albums, and give a quick tutorial on how to use it with your own photo albums.

What is facial recognition?

You may have seen facial recognition used on your favorite cop or investigative television show.  They may have used it to identify some suspect from a huge file of photographs.  You may be wondering, what is it and how does this work?

Well, Wikipedia defines facial recognition this way: “A facial recognition system is a computer application for automatically identifying or verifying a person from a digital image or a video frame from a video source.”  Well done with another good definition!

Basically, facial recognition technology attempts to identify people’s faces by comparing facial features in photographs.  As we will be seeing in this article, Google has put this technology to use in Picasa in order to make tagging people in your albums a lot easier.


How does it help me with my Picasa web album?

How many pictures do you post in your Google Picasa Web Album?  For those who have many hundreds of photos, tagging people in each photo can be a real chore.  However, if you want to be able to quickly find specific photographs containing specific people, tagging becomes very necessary.

So how exactly does facial recognition help in this endeavour?  Google’s Picasa Web Albums can scan your photos of what it believes are faces, allow you to identify a person you know in the photographs, and scan the rest of your photographs for the same person allowing you to quickly tag them also.  Basically it saves you from having to tag each individual photo by hand by suggesting other photos with the same people in them.

Cool!  So how do I get started then?

It’s an easy, two step process!

1. Enable “name tags” in settings:


Click the “settings” link on the top-right menu of Picasa Web Albums, click the “Privacy and Permissions” tab, check the box labeled “Use name tags to name people in my photos” (you’re faced with a few viewing options once you check the box), and click “save changes.”


2. Apply the name tags

Choose which album you want to apply name tags to then click the “add name tags” button:



Then begin applying the names!  The technology guesses which faces belong to the same people but make sure it guesses right.  It gives you several suggestions:


But you can also choose from the list of already used names if the suggestions are wrong:



There you have it!  The cool technology we see on those cop shows has come to help us organize our photos!  Try it!  You may actually come to finally enjoy the process of tagging your photographs!  Who would have known?

Related topics: Google, Google Picasa, Photo Album, Photo Sharing, Photography.

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  1. Carter Cole
    September 23, 2009 at 10:46 am

    i ask google if i can hook it to facebook [Broken Link Removed] facial recognition in Facebook (auto tagging)