Google’s Picasa was first released in 2002 as a quick way to catalog and edit your photos en masse. In 2015, Google released its last update and has since replaced it with the now ubiquitous Google Photos.
It works just like Adobe’s Lightroom without all of the bells and whistles for editing, and instead it just gives you basic features: red-eye removal (when was the last time you saw red-eye?) auto-white balance, cropping, light-sliders, color change, etc.
What Picasa does that neither Lightroom nor Google Photos do is allow you to browse all of your images lightning fast. Google Photos is impossible to quickly scroll through because it needs to download every single image as you browse. Lightroom could potentially be used for the same purpose but, unfortunately, it just doesn’t. With every image loading, the original file with edits overlayed in Lightroom, and with my stupid amount of custom presets, Lightroom struggles after a certain amount of files loaded and it needs purging.
Picasa, on the other hand, displays all of my images (a quarter of a million, over 1TB) in thousands of folders across three (sometimes four) different drives seamlessly. Every image I have taken can be seen in one place without having to cross my fingers each time I double click on a folder. The best part? It handles RAW files like a godd**n boss.
Picasa opens and closes instantly and doesn’t require you to manually import every file — just select which drives you want it to watch and it will always be up-to-date. Clicking through random folders and seeing images you long forgot is almost therapeutic in its simplicity.
There are some drawbacks, I would love to see so many improvements made with Picasa such as being able to select numerous folders at once and edit them (adding tags, etc), and I’d love if they brought back being able to upload to Google Photos directly again. The UI hasn’t aged too well with a boring grey theme but that feels like picking hairs.
I am grateful that I am still able to use this defunct software and it still serves a purpose for me: finding stuff! You can’t download Picasa directly from Google anymore, but you should be able to find a copy online if you look in the right places.
I feel like Adobe has seriously missed a beat with Lightroom, is it too much to ask that I can see every single file on my system without the whole app slowing to a halt? If anybody has a modern solution to this problem, I would love to hear it, but for now, I will continue to use my antique Google app.
About the author: Danny M. Thompson is a photographer based in Manchester, UK. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Thompson’s work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.