Google Photos Blog - News, Tips and Tricks from the Picasa team

Lesser-known (and secret) Picasa features

Monday, October 8, 2007 8:33 AM

Every piece of software has a couple of features that its designers think are pretty important. You can usually guess what those are simply by examining the user interface -- the biggest, shiniest, and most prominent buttons tend to look that way because a developer thought, 'Here's something that'll get used every day.'

Other features tend to get buried in menus, or sub-menus, or maybe implemented only as an Easter egg. Now, good software teams will move things around little by little, as they get a better understanding of how people actually use the software. Done right, this can make an application more usable over time instead of more complex and crufty.

Most of you reading this are already very familiar with the 'big' features in Picasa, so I thought I'd write a couple of blog posts about Picasa's less-visible features, especially the ones you might not have discovered.

First up is search. Photos tend to be hard to search for, so we've been trying for a number of years to figure out what kinds of things users actually look for in their photos. Dates have turned out to be pretty important, so you can type 'December 2005' into Picasa's search box and it will show you photos you took that month. Of course, you can also search for folder names, filenames, descriptions, and locations, too. But we also index information about the camera that took each picture: search for 'Sony' or 'Canon' or 'Powershot' and you'll find the photos you took with each camera type. Or try this: 'Flash' will find photos taken with a flash, and 'focal:50' shows any pictures you took using a 50mm lens. Even 'iso:400' works as a search term.

For a little more fun, try searching for a color name, like 'color:red' or 'color:gray.' There's a full list of available colors in 'Tools->Experimental->Search for....' Try it against your photo collection and see what happens!

Here's another search feature that can be pretty useful: the ability to locate all duplicate photos on your hard drive. Try 'Tools->Experimental->Show Duplicate Files' to see this in action; the filter shows you only those files duplicated in more than one place on your hard drive. The neat idea here is that you can safely delete any file you see listed in these results, because there are at least two of them on your computer. (You might see both copies disappear from the list, but this simply means that the second copy isn't a dupe anymore.)

Tune in Wednesday as I'll tell you about a few other lesser-known features (and Easter eggs) that should please you, whether you're a power user or just a regular photographer.