Picasa 3.9 for Mac (about)

Google has been offering its standalone Picasa Mac app for years and while it may lack ease of use and elegance of Apple’s own iPhoto and Aperture software, by no means is it a slouch.

Matter of fact, I’ve been using the program for years as my primary point of entry for sorting, geotagging and organizing images in folders prior to importing them to Aperture for advanced touch ups and album management.

But aside from maintenance updates, Picasa for Mac spent much of 2013 unchanged in terms of features, so much so that I began to suspect that Google could perhaps discontinue it in order to make room for a standalone Google+ Photos app for the Mac.

Instead, yesterday’s update has proven there’s still life left in Picasa. In addition to a few new features and complementary fixes, the improved Picasa also brings out a brand new standalone tool allowing you to synchronize a batch of photos and videos residing on your Mac with Google+ Photos…

It’s worth mentioning that Picasa for Mac has had for years a built-in feature where you sign in with your Google Account to have your albums synchronized with Picasa Web Albums, the search giant’s defunct photo sharing service that now now redirects to Google+ Photos.

There also used to be an iPhoto plugin from Google to upload your images to Picasa Web Albums. That said, the Google+ Auto Backup tool is designed to work exclusively with Google+ Photos, as evidenced by its icon which uses the new Google+ Photos icon.

As first noted by the Google Operating System blog, the app sites in the background and automatically synchronizes watched folders with the Google+ Photos service, much like Google’s other desktop syncing utilities like Google Music Manager and Google Drive.

Your uploaded photos are made private on Google+ Photos, but you can share them later with your contacts or the web at large using the Google+ Photos interface on the web or through the free Google+ iOS app.

Picasa 3.9 for Mac (auto backup 001)

To begin, you’ll need to sign in with your Google Account.

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Next, check or uncheck your photo sources or add any folder on your system to the watched folders list for photos and videos. The good thing about this step is that Google automatically calculates the size of your backup.

You’ll need to decided whether to have your high-resolution shots downscaled to 2,048 pixels horizontally by Google+ Photos – in which case the uploads don’t count against your Google storage quota – or go full res. The app defaults to synchronizing your images in full resolution so those uploads will count against your Google storage (shared between Google+ Photos, Gmail and Drive).

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Hitting the Advanced button reveals more options: as you an see, Google+ Auto Backup even has support for SD cards.

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Once your photos and videos are backed up and available on the Google+ Photos service, visiting your Google+ profile will yield the below message informing you that you can use the search box to find photos and videos from Auto Backup by searching #desktop (or folder names) in Photos Search.


Google arranges your images by date in the Highlights section of Google+ Photos.

Pretty sweat!

This support document confirms that your photos are uploaded private:

All photos uploaded through Google+ Auto Backup will default to private in Google+, so you can decide what actions to take once they are backed up to Google+. Once your photos have been uploaded, they will appear along with other Auto Backup photos.

Strangely enough, you’ll need to install Picasa for Mac in order to get the Google+ Auto Backup app.

Speaking of Picasa, the current version contains several changes, including a new file size limits for uploads (50 megabytes or up to hundred megapixels per image) improved support for RAW and latest cameras and more.

Fans of Picasa’s Edit in Creative Kit, tough luck: this function has been removed.


I’m loving Google+ Photos quite a lot, especially now that Google’s been adding a bunch of nice features lately.

That said, serious photography addicts with multi-gigabyte photo libraries are probably better off storing their projects on Yahoo’s Flickr, a long-standing photo sharing service that gives you one terabyte of free storage for photos versus just fifteen gigabytes of free Google storage.

Google+ Auto Backup is part of the latest version of Picasa for Windows and Mac.

The 48MB download requires an Intel-powered Mac running OS X 10.5 or later.

  • Anonymous

    They need to stop spamming all of their stuff with Google+ only 0.3% of people care about that garbage

    • al7oot

      Gmail and GoogleDotCom is the only two things I’m using from Google

      • marcus1324

        I only use Google Search and YouTube. I have iCloud mail.

    • Jenny Averly

      Did you just wake up from a coma? Google+ is the second (and soon to be #1) largest “social” network. It’s not actually garbage either, and the most well-respected/honest/intelligent people from all over the world are actively on there. You want to know why? Because it will eventually tie every Google product & service together, whether you like it or not. That’s their strategy moving forward and if you haven’t noticed – it’s already baked into Search, Gmail, YouTube, the Google Play app store, and many more. Even Google’s own Steve Grove just mentioned that “Google+ is kind of like the next version of Google”. Either keep with the times or use another service. No need to trash what you don’t understand.

  • jack

    I stopped using everything I could from Google after they became evil. Now I’m with Gmail only (as far as I know)

    • marcus1324

      What you said literally makes no sense.

  • Decio Arruda

    I think Google is going in a track where soon it will require you to use all its products or none at all. I don’t like it.
    BTW, how many of you guys quit using Adobe products since they’ve gone the subscription path? I did as soon as Final Cut Pro X.I (10.1) came out.

    • I don’t touch anything from Adobe these days. I use Pixelmator as my Photoshop replacement, Google Chrome whenever some Flash content needs rendering. No Adobe runtime – not even AIR – is allowed on my system. And guess what, my MacBook Air’s performance and battery life has improved substantially as a result 😀

      • Decio Arruda

        Yeah, I’ve also noticed that. I have the new Macbook Air and, rendering videos in FCP X is faster and doesn’t waste as much energy when compared to Adobe Premiere Pro CS6.
        And I have never used Google Chrome as my main browser just because I find that simple things such as scrolling are not as smooth as it is in Safari.

      • Jenny Averly

        Apple limits what non-Safari browsers are capable of. For example Safari has exclusive access to the Nitro JavaScript engine. As to whether that directly impacts performance, many users say yes. Whatever the case, it’s a fact Apple doesn’t play nice with competing apps; which is a shame, and a sham 😉

      • Decio Arruda

        That is not a factor on the Mac. Apple doesn’t give access to Nitro JavaScript because it’s their technology and competing browsers have to create their own. It’s not Apple’s responsibility to make Chrome good on the Mac. The argument on the iOS side of things is that Apple doesn’t give access to their Java Script engine and doesn’t allow developers to implement their own engines. Totally different from what Apple does on the Desktop.

      • Jenny Averly

        Yes, that is correct. My brain was stuck on mobile 🙂

  • Allan Descheneau

    I have a question for you that I can’t find the answer to. I’ve been using Picasa for a long time and have many pictures in “web albums”. When they switched over to Google+ it was no big deal, but now we have “auto-backup”. When I loaded it up it wanted to put all of my pictures into the auto-backup including the ones in the web-albums. I assume these are exclusive to one another? Should I be using web-albums or auto-backup? The web-albums have been buggy since they don’t like to have over 400+ pics in a folder, but auto-backup could be the solution.

    Any help would be great.

  • travelfree

    I love gmail, Picasa, google maps, keep – all of google’s products in fact except for Google+. I want to be able to send web album links privately to those I choose, I don’t want people in circles telling me how awesome my photos are, I want to be able to choose to keep in touch with people using email.

    In other words I want to be treated as an adult. Why can’t google decide to be different and not just another version of gawky Zuckerberg’s fantasy where we’re all across what everyone else is doing all the time. Millions of us don’t belong to that generation and really don’t want it. Please let us decide how to use the wonderful products provided.

  • JamJam

    That wasn’t cool of Google to install eseentially another program when I updated Picasa. I knew something was fishy when i updated and the version didn’t change…only the build number did. I despise Google+ and will be uninstalling the Auto Backup.