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I've been a long time user of Picasa (the Windows desktop application, not Picasa Web Albums), and have roughly 40k photos. The photos are a mix of my own digital snapshots, and scans of my 35mm film and old family photos. Now that Google has announced they're ending support for Picasa (not that it was ever well supported, but at least it was free) I'm thinking about moving to Lightroom.

The problem is that Picasa is, like Lightroom, a non-destructive editor. Thousands of my photos have edits (mostly straightening and crops), which I would like to carry over to Lightroom. As I see it, I have two options:

  1. Save the photos within Picasa before importing into Lightroom. Picasa saves a copy of the original in a hidden subdirectory, and then saves the photo with the edits applied. (Or equivalently export all my photos to a new directory tree.) I think that Lightroom will ignore the hidden subdirectories, so all history will be lost in Lightroom, and I won't have easy access to the originals any more.
  2. Import the photos as-is into Lightroom, and then redo the edits. I won't know which photos have been edited, or what I did to them. Many hours of work lost.

Does anyone have experience with either method, or advice? Ideally I'd like to have Lightroom know about the edits, so that I have access to both the originals and the edited version within Lightroom. Is that possible?

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Non-destructive Edit History

The bad news is that the non-destructive edit history is not something that can easily be moved between Picasa and any other photo processor. Sorry, you just won't be able to keep the history of edits nor will you be able to necessarily recreate the identical effect in any other software without painstaking comparison and fine tuning.

Originals and Edited Images

The good news is that Google Picasa does save the original unedited images. You can simply right click on an edited image and select Locate> Original on Disk to track down where Picasa has decided to store your originals, although the pain point is that this is not one centralized location - they are stored in a subfolder of the original location. Locate original image

One you have located the originals, you could import both the originals and the edited images to Lightroom so at least you didn't lose what you started with nor the final output. Note that to utilize some of these features, you do have to Save the image in Picasa (the original isn't moved to the secondary location until you save).

Facial Tagging

Facial tagging is a special area because as I understand it there is not standardized way to store this information in the Exif or IPTC metadata, or if there is - it isn't being used widely enough to be valuable in this instance.

The good news is someone has done the hard work and created a plugin to save your facial tags. Jeffrey Friedl's Blog - Jeffrey’s “Picasa Face-Recognition Import” Lightroom Plugin.

Other Areas

There are other concerns that most will have moving between Picasa and other options. Picasa stores a few things in it's picasa.ini files, such as the star rating and facial recognition information. You could come up with a programmatic way to parse out certain pieces of each picasa.ini file, or you can try a bit more manual but still reasonable approach of extracting the information into keyword metadata. For example, if you want to save your star rated photos and tag them as such for later application in Lightroom, you can follow something similar to this:

  1. Filter your images in Picasa to only show the Starred images: enter image description here
  2. Select all images and add an appropriate keyword to all of the images: enter image description here
  3. Import images to Lightroom and you will find the new keyword. This can now be used to drive collections, specific edits, addition of star ratings, etc: enter image description here

This same idea of adding keywords could be extended to a wide range of uses beyond just star ratings although it likely would have to be an even more manual process. Again, if you have the know-how and time you likely can pull some of this data out on your own with scripting, and others have attempted this and had some success(example). So you may want to browse for specific solutions if you have a need and the manual solutions would be too time consuming.

Final Thoughts

The good news is that frankly Picasa can still live on for some time. It isn't going to self destruct or uninstall itself. Picasa 3 will work on your computer for as long as it remains compatible with your operating system (OS), and the newest build is compatible with Windows 10. So take some time to get comfortable with new tools such as Adobe Lightroom, and get all of your necessary data moved over - but don't worry about doing it yesterday. Who knows, it is possible in a short time that even more tools will be developed to ease the transition.

  • 2
    Great answer and (almost) exactly how I migrated from Picasa to Lightroom (CC). I was very happy with Jeffrey's tool for facial conversion. My two cents about the conversion of my (private, not professional) collection: I made a backup copy of the original images and let Picasa (destructively) apply the edits to my images and imported those results in Lightroom. Since the conversion about two year ago, I never ever accessed one of the original files... – agtoever Nov 23 '16 at 16:31
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I wrote a Lightroom plugin for migrating from Picasa to Lightroom. I searched all over the web and could not find a good solution, so I wrote one myself. I decided to polish it up and offer it for others to use for free. You run it from inside Lightroom and it imports all your Picasa Albums, people/faces, and star ratings. Your tags and captions will also be imported automatically. It's a one-time import procedure that only takes a few minutes. The instructions also explain how to save your Picasa edits (which is not automatic as implied by a posting in this thread).

The plugin is called P2Lr and you can find it along with instructions here: http://picasa-lightroom.com

I have tested the plugin on Windows and Mac, using the latest version of Picasa and Lightroom. I tested it using various test albums and my personal collection of over 33,000 photos. But other than that it has not been widely tested so it's considered beta at this point. If you use it, please let me know how it worked for you.

Note that an earlier post states that Lightroom automatically imports your Picasa folders. However Lightroom does NOT automatically import your Picasa "Albums" which are distinct from "Folders". Folders are simply the folders (or directories) on your disk. Albums are the separate collections you create using photos from your folders. Lightroom does not import the Picasa Albums. Nor does it import people and star ratings. The P2Lr plugin imports all of them.

Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

  • Just tried this, and it worked beautifully for me. I was only really interested in maintaining the folders and it imported it flawlessly. It helps you to import face recognition notes too, but I'd prefer to reprocess this in Lightroom. – cs94njw Mar 4 '18 at 11:20
  • GAH! Just found this and I'm getting "The site is experiencing technical difficulties." on picasa-lightroom.com :( – RedYeti Oct 23 at 12:44
  • I just fixed the website. Sorry @RedYeti for the outage. – Curt Oct 24 at 13:59
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I have migrated from Picasa to Lightroom (4 at that time) about 3 years ago, and have made the following experiences:

If you just add the Picasa folder structure to your Lightroom Catalog without moving the actual files, Lightroom will import the original photo and the picasa edit, even showing the picasa folder within the Lightroom folder structure. You end up with two (or more) images in your Lightroom catalog, and then can move them around, stack them, etc. My guess is, that this also works when you copy or move the files while importing them, but you should try this with a backup first ;)

If you did tag your photos, picasa fortunately can save (or saves automatically, I'm not sure anymore) them to the file as metadata. Lightroom reads these tags and automatically adds them to it's own tag library. However I had a conversion problem with non-ascii characters (e. g. german umlauts) there. They appeared broken in Lightroom, and I needed to rename the affected tags and fix the umlauts manually.

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