Sometimes a reader comes along and suggests a program so handy it makes me question my own knowledge of computers if I’ve never heard of it.Such an eventuality occurred this week when regular reader Ted Jones wrote in and suggested I take a look at yet another free program designed by the guys at Google which goes by the name of Picasa.

Picasa is designed as a solution for those of you who have hundreds of digital photos on their computers which are just begging to be organised.Let’s be honest, too many of us just have folders stuffed full of pictures which are completely un-catalogued and include file after file named along the lines of 0193948.jpg which mean very little to anybody.

By visiting http://picasa.google.com and obtaining this small, free program you will be prompted to allow it to search your computer for all image files that will then be added to a catalogue sorted in date order.You can of course choose to scan only specific areas of your computer or to allow it to scan the entire hard disk and then you manually go through and remove any images that don’t belong in your photo collection.Once you’ve got a working library of pictures you can go about moving, renaming and labelling pictures so that they will be a little easier to navigate in years to come.

Of course the program does go further than this by allowing you to add a number of ‘fixes’ to your images such as straightening, cropping, auto balancing and removing red eye.These effects can be added and altered on a picture by picture basis of you can choose to automatically add the desired effect to a batch of images.Other features include ‘fine tuning’ shadows, highlights, colour temperature, and fill light levels as well as applying more drastic effects such as colour saturation, tinting or turning it into an old fashioned sepia image.Whilst none of the effects could be considered particularly powerful the range is large and capable enough to fulfil the needs of the majority of amateur digital photographers.

Once you’re happy with the way your images are organised and the way they look you can go about creating slideshows, collages, posters and even websites in the application and obviously it includes the mandatory tools for simply e-mailing or printing them out.

After my article several months back ranting on about how it is a worry that in the modern day we all have our pictures stored on our computers rather than as hard copy and that it would be far too easy for them to be wiped into oblivion I am extremely happy to see that a backup tool has been created.This tool will allow you to back up all your pictures along with modifications, captions and labels that were added quickly and easily – You can even burn this backup directly onto CD.

Once again a group of engineers from Google have come up with a fantastic piece of software that is offered completely free of charge with absolutely no adware or spyware; you can only praise the fact that they do but one can’t help but wonder why they bother.I’ve made a note that this weekend to go through my photo collection to get it in some kind of order and I suggest that you guys out there do the same.

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.