Two free programs, Google’s Picasa and Microsoft’s Windows Live Photo Gallery, offer genealogists plenty of tools for editing, organizing, searching and sharing digital images. Both let you add captions and searchable tags (keywords) to photos. You can tag faces, and both programs use facial recognition to suggest tags. Most tags are saved in the metadata embedded in each file. (Before tagging faces in Picasa, select Tools>Options and check Store Name Tags in Photo.) Note that the programs can’t read all of each other’s tags, though, in particular people tags and tags attached to TIFF files.
If you don’t like your edits, both programs make it easy to return to the originals. But they have different ways of saving edits. Changes made in Windows Live Photo Gallery show up right away in the file. In Picasa, though, changes are kept in a separate file. So you need to save edits to the file before opening it in another program. One way: Select File>Export Picture to Folder to create a copy of the file with your edits. This comparison chart will help you choose between Picasa and Windows Live Photo Gallery—or take advantage of both programs’ best features.
From the October/November 2012 issue of Family Tree Magazine.