2017 by Donald R. Snow
This page was last updated 2017-03-27.  Return to the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page or Don's Class Listings Page .
ABSTRACT:   Photos are a major part of family history.  This class will discuss digital photos from cameras or scanning, downloading, and organizing them using the free programs PICASA and WINDOWS PHOTO GALLERY.  Both of these programs are still available and are free, but are not being updated.  They have helpful options and use facial recognition algorithms to form groups of pictures that contain the same person.  As you confirm or "disconfirm" the photos in a group, that gives them more facial information so they add more pictures to the groups for you to approve or not.  PHOTO GALLERY also contains a "stitching" program to form a panorama picture from several overlapping photos.  These programs have many additional features, including some photo editing, but that won't be the emphasis of this class.  The notes for this class and related articles, all with active Internet links, are on my website .


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( ) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. These notes, with active Internet links and other related articles, are posted on my website .
  3. Tips:  (1)  To put an icon on your desktop for the URL for these notes, or any webpage, just drag the icon in front of the address in your browser to your desktop.  (2)  To open a link while keeping your place in the original page, hold down the Control key while clicking the link so it opens in a new tab.
  4. This class will discuss working with and organizing digital photos using the free programs PICASA and WINDOWS PHOTO GALLERY.

  6. Preliminaries
    1. Be sure to set the date and time right on your digital camera.
    2. Be sure your digital photos are backed up somewhere other than just in your own home, so in a disaster you don't lose them all.
  7. My procedure for downloading photos from my camera
    1. Remove the card from the camera and put it in a USB card reader connected to my computer
      1. Go through the photos on the card and delete those I don't want to keep
      2. Copy the remaining photos to a subfolder "YYYY" of a folder called "Photos By Date" -- these are the ones to work on
      3. Move the photos from the card to a subfolder "YYYY" of a folder called "Graphics Originals To Keep" -- these are the originals that I keep so I can always go back to an original, if I ever need to -- Moving these photos clears off the card to put back in the camera
      4. The photos have names like "IMG-####" from the camera.
    2. NAMEXIF -- -- use it to extract the date and time from the metadata of each photo and put it in front of the name the camera gave it; I also add PHT- in front, e.g. "PHT-YYYY-MM-DD-HHh-MMm-SSs--IMGxxxxxxx"PHT- in front makes it so I can find all photos easily and the date in International Date format makes the photos automatically sort chronologically
    3. BULK RENAME UTILITY -- -- is also helpful to add the "PHT-" or to add common words to many names, e.g. of the same event
    4. Descriptive terms can be added in the file names, e.g. people and location, after the date and time, but before the camera photo name -- This is the part that takes the most time, but makes it so you can find what you are looking for; the free programs EVERYTHING -- -- and FILE EXPLORER (in Windows 10) help in doing this by using them with their Preview Panels opened (see other notes for details)
    5. Example:  PHT-2017-03-17-18h38m47s--CaribbeanCruiseWithFamilyOnRoyalCaribbean'sJewelOfTheSeas--P1060619.JPG
    6. With this naming procedure it is easy to find photos by date, person, location, or event by using EVERYTHING
  8. Scanning hardcopy photos
    1. I usually scan hardcopy photos as tif's at high resolution (600 dpi) and save copies and originals to "Scanned-YYYY-MM-DD" and "ScannedOriginals-YYYY", as above
    2. Use BULK RENAME UTILITY to put "PHT-" in front; then add the estimated date in International Date Format, as above
    3. The scanner information on all copies makes it so I can find the original, if I need another copy to work on
    4. Add descriptive terms in the file names, as above


  9. Google used to supply PICASA, but now has changed to their online program GOOGLE PHOTOS that works across mobile devices, so it requires the Internet and is not a program on your computer 
  10. Get PICASA free from other websites now, e.g. ; it is not being updated, but is still very helpful to organize your digital photos and do some image editing 
  11. Tutorials and helps
    1. -- Google helps for PICASA
    2. -- Much information starting with installation -- good place to start learning about Picasa
    3. -- Free tutorials
    4. -- many free tutorials about PICASA, but looks like some may be for earlier versions of PICASA
    5. -- Tutorials by Geeks on Tour -- some are free, but most are $ 
  12. PICASA does NOT copy or change your photos, only puts links to them
    1. Albums in PICASA are storage places for information and links to your photos -- So deleting an album in PICASA only deletes the links and information and not the photos from your computer
    2. People albums in PICASA are storage places for links to that person in all the photos
    3. Folders are your hard drive storage places for photos, so DON'T DELETE A FOLDER in PICASA or you will delete all your photos in it 
    4. To repeat it:  DELETE ALBUMS, NOT FOLDERS, in PICASA
  13. Before you run PICASA set the preference to tell it which folder or folders to work on or else it does your entire hard drive
    1. Duplicate photos get indexed more than once in PICASA, so move duplicates out of the folders you set it to work on 
    2. AWESOME DUPLICATE PHOTO FINDER -- -- is a helpful freeware program to help find and delete duplicate photos
  14. Tagging faces in your photos --
    1. When first run, PICASA  makes small rectangles around all faces in all the photos and saves them as thumbnail view and this may take several hours, depending on your computer and how many photos you have 
    2. PICASA uses facial recognition to sort the thumbnails into groups that it thinks are the same person from all the photos
    3. You give names to the thumbnail groups to form "People Albums"
    4. Single clicking a thumbnail shows a list on right side of screen of other people in that photo
    5. Double clicking a thumbnail shows the full photo, so you can see the context and other people in it; double clicking again takes you back to the thumbnail group 
    6. For people that don't need to be identified, e.g. strangers on the street, click the Ignore button
    7. PICASA gives you options to confirm or deny thumbnails it thinks belong in the group
    8. As you confirm thumbnails in a group PICASA now has more facial information, so it suggests more thumbnails it thinks might be that person and asks you to confirm or deny them; to see just the new suggestions click on the box near the top right of the group; the facial recognition algorithm isn't perfect, but is very helpful
    9. If a person wasn't "thumbnailed" automatically in a new photo, you can manually thumbnail them with "Add a Person Manually" (lower right hand side) -- PICASA has a bug that this "Add a Person Manually" button doesn't always come up when it should; try going out and back into the photo from a different screen to get it to show up
    10. Slider arrow at lower right of screen expands or contracts the thumbnails and photos
    11. To have the name tags saved in the EXIF metadata of the photo go to PICASA > Tools > Options > Name Tags > Store Name Tags in Photo -- Then by clicking on a person album and selecting thumbnails it will store that name tag in the metadata data of each of those photos and will do this as you go to the person album for each person in the photo; not perfect and if you have a comma in the name, it puts the name on two lines in the EXIF data
  15. When viewing full photos, clicking the "i" Information button (lower right) shows the EXIF data, including name tags in that photo
  16. PICASA has some photo editing capabilities when viewing the full photo -- editing tools are on upper left, e.g. cropping, red eye, color correction, and straighten  -- but other freeware programs are better for editing photos
  17. Slideshows can be shown by highlighting the album and clicking View > Slideshow -- shows full screen views of the thumbnails or photos
  18. If your PICASA database gets corrupted, you can rebuild it, but first read the directions on the Help menu, so you don't lose all your previous work
  19. PICASA does much more than discussed here, e.g. it has a way to backup your photos with the PICASA database to transfer to another computer 

  21. Like Google did with PICASA, Microsoft discontinued its freeware program WINDOWS PHOTO GALLERY and went to an online service which works on mobile devices and requires the Internet, but the program can still be downloaded from other websites, e.g. -- This is an offline installer so it will install even though Microsoft is no longer supporting the program.  Download the file and and tell it only to install PHOTO GALLERY AND MOVIE MAKER when you see the options; you may also have to install another old Microsoft SQL file which the following website will tell you about -- 
  22. Tutorials and helps 
    2. My Freeware Corner articles from Apr and May 2014 -- 
    6. WindowsGuidePhoto1.pdf (17-page pdf) -- 
  23. When you first run PHOTO GALLERY, click on File > Include Folder and add the folder(s) and subfolder(s) you want it to work on -- It organizes all the photos there by date using the metadata of the photo; you see small versions of the pictures as it works and it may take several hours to organize them all
  24. Slider at bottom right makes the thumbnails larger or smaller so it shows 3 across or up to 24 across
  25. Left panel shows the folder structure on your computer that you told it to work on; can click on any folder to show the photos in it
  26. Across the top are icons for various tasks:  File Home Edit Find Create View
  27. File > Batch People Tag does facial recognition and allows you to confirm and name the Tags  
  28. Create > Panorama forms panorama pictures of several overlapping photos
  29. Create > Photo Fuse allows forming one photo with the faces from two or more photos taken from the same spot at the same time, so you can form one photo with good expressions of everyone.
  30. PHOTO GALLERY has many more options and editing features.

  32. PICASA and PHOTO GALLERY have slideshows of your photos as options.
  33. FILE EXPLORER in Windows 10 will do simple slideshows of selected photos.
  34. FASTSTONE IMAGE VIEWER -- -- Freeware image viewer and editor, many features, easy to learn, does slideshows of images in any folder -- see Overview of FastStone Image Viewer
  35. IRFANVIEW -- -- Freeware, popular photo editor and viewer, many features, easy to use, be sure to download the plug-ins too -- see Irfanview Tutorials 
  36. Using smartphones or tablets to scan photos -- free Photomyne app and Google's free PhotoScan app; see webpage Google's website for PhotoScan

  38. Photos are a major part of family history and scanning, organizing, labeling, and finding is an important part of family history.
  39. For deceased people upload your good photos to FamilySearch Family Tree to preserve and share them.

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