THE GREAT advantage of digital photography is that every picture you’ve ever taken, in theory at least, can be located in an instant. Try doing that with a drawerful of envelopes from Bonusprint.
But what’s the best way of making sure your snaps don’t get lost in the digital detritus of your virtual drawer? Many people these days use Facebook – but if your collection runs to hundreds or even thousands, it’s easy to lose track of them.
A better solution is a database programme that lives on your main PC and connects with the other devices on which you take and view your photos. In this respect, all roads lead to Google.
The recent launch of Google Photos, replacing Picasa Web Albums, takes picture indexing to a new level. Take a picture on your phone or iPad you can have it show up on your PC automatically. Snaps you’ve edited on your computer can be instantly uploaded to your phone.
Google Photos works in tandem with the social networking platform, Google+. Once installed on each PC, phone or tablet you own, Google Photos makes your content available to your family and friends.
Its hub is the desktop PC program Picasa, which Google has owned since 2004. It’s a photo editor and cataloguer with an attractive but initially confusing interface. But I’ve been won over by its new-found connectivity and a killer feature that lets you build a personal history of photos, by collecting the same faces across multiple pictures.
Picasa keeps track of your choice of folders on your PC and displays the pictures in a grid layout. You can sort them by folder, group them into albums or locate them on a world map, and a fairly comprehensive set of editing tools is included. Above each folder is a “sync to web” box, which, if switched on, takes care of your uploading, downloading, and – if you wish – sharing, automatically.
It works with Google’s Chromestick and similar devices to let you watch slideshows of your pictures on your TV, and it will take care of printing and web page creation. Given that it’s free, and that its nearest competitor, Adobe Photoshop Elements, is £60, it’s hard to make a case against it.
Picasa isn’t perfect, and enthusiasts will soon find limitations. But for casual snappers, it’s fine. And be sure to sample the new Google Keep app, too; it does for Post-It notes what Picasa does for photos.