Still a Picasa holdout? How to make Google Photos work for you

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How to migrate to Google Photos

There’s a reason why Google doesn’t use the term “migrate” when encouraging Picasa users to embrace Google Photos. That’s because — with the exception of the Web Albums feature described above — Google hasn’t created a migration path from one product to the other. The company refers to it as “switching,” because that’s exactly how you have to think about it.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 2.20.58 PMTo begin using Google Photos, simply download the Google Photos Backup tool, tell it where to look for your photos, and then let it do its thing. It will take hours (or days) for all of your photos to make it to the cloud, but it happens in the background and doesn’t require any intervention on your part. It’s entirely effortless. Did we mention that Google gives Photos users an unlimited amount of room on its servers? As long as your photos are under 16 megapixels in size, the compression that Photos performs should be virtually unnoticeable. If you prefer, you can choose an uncompressed option, which lets you upload RAW files without any alterations. This option is not unlimited, though. It will eat into your total amount of available storage for your Google account.

Easy, but not painless

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 2.42.34 PMAs easy as it is to get your photos into the cloud, it comes with a hefty price for Picasa users. Virtually all of the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve invested into tasks such as photo editing and captioning are ignored in the upload process. Because Picasa stores all of that information within in its own database, it isn’t embedded in your physical photo files. That was the right way to do things in order to keep changes from being “destructive,” but it also means that short of Google uploading your Picasa database too, there’s no way to include it in your Google Photos collection. It’s like you’re starting from scratch. It’s not a big deal for minor edits like cropping, but for others, it can be a huge loss.

And it gets worse. Although Google Photos offers a handful of Instagram-esque filters and a number of editing tools to choose from — including those for cropping, rotating, and making contrast adjustments, among others—  it’s a paltry selection compared to what Picasa provides. It doesn’t even offer the most useful tool ever invented: Red-eye.

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