I accumulated years of edits over my photographs in Picasa. Picasa works as a non-destructive editor, so it doesn't change the original files but saves all modifications in its database and in picasa.ini files (a plain text file) in the same folder where the originals are stored. It then (reads and) applies those modifications on the fly when you see your photos within Picasa (but you don't see them if you navigate your collection with another viewer, of course).

I changed from Windows to Ubuntu OS in 2011, but kept on using Picasa (for Linux) in lack of a better alternative. Google discontinued support for Picasa for Linux a time ago, so I am more urged to find a free picture manager and non-destructive editor within Linux. I am considering something within the Shotwell--Darktable range (they are both non-destructive editors).

However, I would like to import my photo collection with the edits I made in Picasa so the new editor can apply them on the fly over the original versions (instead of exporting the modified photographs and import them modified, or duplicating storage by keeping both the original and modified versions). And then I can get rid of Picasa.

Do you know of any Linux non-destructive photo manager/editor that can import picasa.ini edits (transforming them into their own database o sidecar file format)?

[Edit 1: See what I found so far in a similar answer here]

[Edit 2 (2017): Not useful to translate edits, but may help someone reading: see this answer about a plugin to import some work done in Picasa (such as Albums, captions, tags and stars) into Lightroom. This other answer explains some other alternatives]

  • \$\begingroup\$ very interesting question - did you find a solution in the meantime? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 7:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Martin: No, nothing yet, and too lazy so I am still using Picasa (even after some time of conflict with an updated kernel…) \$\endgroup\$
    – FairMiles
    Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 20:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Updated follow-up: are you using the solutions found in your edits? If so, perhaps you could write an answer, rather than updating the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 17:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, not really (I am not into Lightroom). Still no satisfactory answer except that it does not seem probable unless Google decides to provide information. Just edited to add some links to redirect anyone interested in following that path. \$\endgroup\$
    – FairMiles
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 22:08

2 Answers 2


Decoding the ini file is possible, but translating them exactly into darkroom/shotwell edits is going to be problematic. The image manipulation algorithms are different. Your best bet is to export high quality JPEGs (or if you have a lot of disk space you can use TIFFs) and keep the RAWs as an archive. This is the approach I have taken as I moved from Aperture to Lightroom (I know bad open source juju).

You can extract keywords, folder structures etc without too much effort, but without an open source or at least callable image api from Picasa (and significant integration into your new image editing software), this is not possible.


Unfortunately, picasa.ini is the proprietary format of the Picasa (Google) team, and there is no public specification to interpret Picasa's "on-the-fly" adjustments.

You can only apply Picasa adjustments to the original files (or their exported copies) to see your changes in other programs.

This is why I rare rely to programs with closed proprietary data formats.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Agree now, but I started with all this in 2005... And there were at least some attempts to decode and document their structure (since they are plain text files). Look here \$\endgroup\$
    – FairMiles
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 21:32
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is well documented and could be somewhat easily ported to a different program. The results wouldn't be the same, of course, but maybe it is still useful for some? \$\endgroup\$
    – Unapiedra
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 20:42
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I guess a filter than can import folder/album structures, tags, and at least translate basic modifications (crop, simple exposure or color balance) would be useful for many people still under proprietary formats. I guess (really don't know) that there is some user base that can be attracted to the first non-destructive open source editor/manager that implements it. \$\endgroup\$
    – FairMiles
    Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 1:25

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