I discovered Picasa a while back, and since then I’ve been using it fairly regularly to control my photos (quite easy as I take so few these days).

The greatest thing about Picasa is it’s price – completely free. Those nice people at Google bought out the company last year and whether you are now beginning to think that they are Microsoft-incarnate you can’t argue with that kind of price for a fairly sophisticated piece of software.

It’s primary function, at first, is purely as an album. Point it at the folders where you store your photos and it’ll scan them, and keep an eye on them for new files, organising them by date (amongst other options). Once you get used to that side of it, you’ll start to discover other features, the best one being a familiar (to Google users) button that says “I’m feeling lucky”.

The easiest way to demonstrate what it does is with an example.

First up an untreated photo of mine:

Picasa Test BEFORE

And here’s the same photo after clicking “I’m feeling lucky”:

Picasa Test AFTER

Of course you can choose to alter the contrast and color, crop and straighten photos, remove red eye, and sharpen, greyscale, sepia tone and other filters can be applied. It doesn’t require you to do more than a few obvious mouse clicks and I’d highly recommend it for that reason alone. It’s very VERY easy to use.

It comes with the option to select a batch of photos and export a copy of them to another folder – which I use in conjunction with the Flickr Uploadr – or print them or email them or post them via Blogger. You can create slideshows and burn them to CD, and so and so on. It’s got loads of simple features but never feels crowded.

So, if you’ve got Flickr, get Picasa, they go hand in hand if you ask me! In fact I was a tad miffed when Yahoo! bought Flickr as I’d hoped Google would’ve beaten them to it and we could’ve got some nifty Picasa/Flickr widgets… oh well.

There’s more info on the Picasa website including some screenshots, and whilst it’s not without it’s quirks (you can’t have a photo in more than one “picasa” folder, an annoyance as I’d like to be able to build albums independent of where the file actually IS) it’s very easy to get up to speed with. Highly recommended.

Did I mention it’s free?