Now that Picasa is going away, a lot of people are going to be looking for an alternative to the much-loved photo organizing and editing app.
There are a lot out there, and our readers have made a lot of recommendations, but there doesn’t seem to be an obvious answer. We’ve come up with a list of 11 good options that might work well as a replacement for Picasa, and we want to hear your favorites in the comments!
A quick note: for the most part, I’ve tried to stick with free or affordable options here. There are a lot of other potential replacements that cost a lot of money, but because Picasa was free, I’m going to focus on free replacements. If you think a paid replacement is worth it, let us know down below.
Picasa had both a desktop and an online component, and Google is pushing its users toward moving everything online. You might be understandably hesitant to do this, but some of the best options out there are cloud-based. Here are a few of the better ones.
This is, of course, the most obvious choice (but it’s not necessarily the best one). Google is phasing out Picasa so that more people will use Google Photos, and it’s going to be very easy to switch between the two. It certainly does provide some advantages; it’s integrated with other Google services, including Google Drive; you don’t need to open a new account; it’s free; it offers basic editing options; it supports RAW files; and the interface is really easy to use.
Unfortunately, it also has a number of drawbacks. The editing tools that are currently available are extremely limited, especially compared to Picasa. Photos that you upload from your mobile device are automatically scaled down to save room in your Drive, and you only have a limited amount of storage space for non-scaled photos.
Basically, you’ll be making a lot of compromises. That said, it’s not a bad option. The automatic uploader makes sure that all of your photos are backed up in the cloud, and because it’s a Google product, sharing is made very easy. There are also both web-based and mobile options, which is really nice if you do a lot of smartphone photography as well as taking pictures with your camera.
While it’s generally thought of as an image-sharing site, Flickr is also great for photo storage and organization, mostly because of the fact that you receive an entire terabyte of storage for free when you sign up for a free account.
You also get editing tools powered by Aviary; they’re not the best, but you can do all of the basics that you’re likely to need, like adjusting brightness and contrast, and getting rid of red-eye.
Unfortunately, Flickr’s auto-uploader is now part of its pro plan, which means you’ll need to manually upload all of your photos. This shouldn’t be too hard, but it’s one aspect where Google Photos is the clear winner. The pro plan also includes more stats on your images, ad-free browsing, and a discount on Adobe Cloud purchases.
One of the biggest advantages of PictureLife is that, like Google Photos, it supports RAW files, which means you can store your originals here as well as your edited photos. Because RAW files take up so much space, though, you’ll burn through your eight free gigabytes rather quickly, and you’ll find that you need more space.
The editing tools on PictureLife are powered by Aviary, just like those on Flickr, so you’ll get the same suite of options. Not fantastic, but better than Google Photos. The options for increasing photo storage aren’t great compared to Flickr, at $50 per year for 100GB, $100 per year for 500GB, and $150 per year for unlimited storage.
Dropbox is an extremely versatile and useful cloud storage app. And although it doesn’t offer any editing options, Dropbox still gets a mention here for its ease of use and simplicity. Whip up a set of folders for organizing your photos, upload them, and you’re good to go. That’s all there is to it.
And while $100 per year isn’t cheap, it’s not too bad for a terabyte of space. The biggest advantage here is that extra space can be used for anything else, as well. You could store music in the cloud, use it for workplace collaboration, or any of the other things people do with Dropbox on a regular basis.
The free account only gets you 2GB of space, which will run out really fast, but you can complete some “quests” to get little additions to your allowance if you don’t need a full terabyte.
The best thing about Picasa was that it was great for organization and also had capable editing tools as well. Unfortunately, that’s a bit of a rarity in the photo management software scene, so many of the apps listed here will only perform one of those functions. You may have to start using two different pieces of software to manage and edit your photos.
This recommendation from one of our reader includes a few editing tools, but it’s best used as an image organizer. The interface isn’t particularly pleasing, but it does provide a lot of information about your photos at a glance, like filename, size, date taken, and lens details. One of the most useful things you can do with XnView MP is tag your photos so you can easily keep track of groups that don’t occupy the same location
This software is actually meant as a media browser, and not only a photo browser, so you can get all the same sorts of information for videos, audio files, and any of over 500 file formats that it recognizes. I wasn’t blown away by XnView MP’s interface or abilities, but it seems like the type of software that would be extremely useful if you spent some time getting to know how to use it.
XnView’s software is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and it’s free, which is definitely a selling point. The company also publishes a mobile photo editing app, so it’s possible that more desktop editing capabilities will appear in the future.
FastStone Image Viewer
Another recommendation from a MakeUseOf reader, FastStone Image Viewer is like XnView MP in that it has some minor editing capabilities, but is best used as a photo organizer.
Because it’s Windows-only, I wasn’t able to test it, but the FastStone website lists “image viewing, management, comparison, red-eye removal, emailing, resizing, cropping, color adjustments, musical slideshow, and much more” as prominent features. And it’s free, another big bonus.
The Photoshop family of software has been the industry standard in photo editing and management for a long time, and there’s a good reason: it’s really good at what it does. Elements is like a stripped-down version of Photoshop that helps you organize and edit all of your photos.
It includes a number of features that users liked about Picasa, like facial recognition (though this is reported to not work as well), easy uploading for sharing, and the ability to create scrapbook pages, calendars, and other fun printables. And it has the photo-editing power of Photoshop behind it, which means you can be confident that your photos will come out looking perfect.
The downside to using Elements is its price: $100.
OS X Photos
If you’re on a Mac, you already have a pretty decent photo organization and editing system ready to go: the aptly (though boringly) named Photos. It doesn’t have a whole lot of editing power, but the auto-enhance, color, and light adjustments are easy to use, and you can include extensions from other apps.
The biggest benefit to using Photos is that the interface is very clean, it’s really easy to work with, and if you have a Mac, you already have it (in fact, it probably opens automatically when you plug in your camera). The biggest drawback here is the lack of editing abilities, but most people will be happy with the amount of tools that are provided.
And if you want more editing capabilities, you can easily use it in conjunction with Pixelmator or another editing program.
Like the Photos app on OS X, this is a native app available for Windows users from the Microsoft Store. As I wasn’t able to test it out, I have to rely on reviews, but it looks like it’s a pretty good app that lets you organize your photos and make basic edits.
You can also use the mobile version to get a unified experience across devices, which is cool. If you have experience with this app, let me know what you think of it in the comments!
If your needs are simple, and you just want a program that will help you organize your photos and do the most basic of edits, JetPhoto could be a contender. The Studio version of the app is free (though you’ll need to upgrade to the Pro version to work with RAW files), and provides a good-enough interface to keep your photos organized.
The editing tools are about as basic as they come, so you’ll want to rely on an image editor for making any tweaks. JetPhoto is definitely best at organizing, and is a decent lightweight app for what it provides. It’s also available for both Windows and Mac.
If you’re going to use an app like FastStone or JetPhoto that’s great at organization but doesn’t provide a whole lot in the way of editing, you’re going to need an app that will help you turn your photos into masterpieces. Paint.NET has quietly been gaining market share and has turned into a very popular and capable editor.
Features like layers, curves, levels, and a whole library of extensions are usually reserved for more expensive photo-editing apps, but Paint.NET packs all of these for free. It’s not the prettiest editor out there, but it gets the job done, and won’t cost you a dime. Unfortunately, however, it’s Windows-only.
Moving on from Picasa
Because you’ll still be able to download and use Picasa for a while, a lot of people will likely stick with it. But many others will switch to another option to continue getting updates and support from developers. There are benefits to both, and it will be very interesting to see which services see a big boost.
I plan on going to Flickr. What will you be doing? Will you stick with Picasa for a while or switch to another service? Which will you be using? Share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments below!