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Publisher / Editor @ CloudAve and Enterprise Irregulars. Industry Observer, Blogger, Startup Advisor, Program Chair @ SVASE (Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs). In his "prior life" spent 15 years immersed in the business of Enterprise Software, at management positions with SAP, IBM, Deloitte, KPMG and the like.

32 responses to “How to Use Picasa on Multiple Computers – The Updated Definitive Guide Part 2: the Solution”

  1. davemichels

    I have picassa running on my kitchen computer, mostly as a screen saver. But it is highly annoying that the screen saver won’t go very deep in the directories…


    I want it to randomly select photos (it doesn’t it works its way thru a few directories at a time). But it won’t go into the deeper folders. I tried to find a better screensaver, but Picassa being free seems to have killed off most of the fee based options. With example above, I think it goes to Jan only.

    I was thinking about creating a new share on the public share a few directories lower, but that seems silly.

    Any other ideas?

  2. mrfox

    What happens when more than one computer is accessing the NAS Picasa folder at the same time? Have you tried that? Does Picasa lock-out the database?

  3. tb

    Sounds like a great plan… Any idea how to make it work on a mac?

  4. schultzter

    This looks great and I hate to throw a wrench in the works but I have one question, since this issue has prevented me from using Picasa on multiple computers in the past.

    What happens if you start Picasa (accidentally or intentionally) and your P: drive is not accessible?

    In my experience Picasa will “forget” about it and you’ll have to start your setup over again, and let your local Picasa rescan your entire collection once the P: drive becomes accessible.

    I have all my photos on a NAS but when I’m on the road with my laptop and I start Picasa to work with some photos off my camera it forgets all about that stuff on P: drive back home, as if it never existed!!!

    Perhaps Picasa could recognize a network drive (actually the same thing would probably happen if you had your photos on a USB drive) and gracefully let it appear and disappear.

  5. Zoli Erdos

    @mrfox No idea, have not tested, but I don’t think it’s a good idea – said that much in the post, but updated it with another warning now.

    @tb no idea about Mac, I am a Windows slave – perhaps someone else will jump in here later.

  6. Zoli Erdos

    @schultzter I think you’re describing a different situation, which I also experienced in the past: in that setup you still had local db’s, only the images came from the NAS.

    In the current setup everything is on the network, so there won’t be any re-indexing, since the index is not local either.

    I did some testing: shut down the “server” (just a regular PC for me) where Picasa resides.

    Then tried to launch Picasa on a PC that had been on and connected to the network drive before. To my surprise the Picasa app did not even start! But I guess it makes sense, since it was trying to get its system settings from the P: drive which it did not find.

    Then I rebooted this (satellite) laptop while the main computer remained shut off. Trying to launch Picasa first I saw some error messages, then the app actually started and wanted to index my PC looking for image files (akin to first time launch after install). I clicked no on everything and exited Picasa.

    Then I turned on the “server” and a fe minutes later re-launched Picasa on the other laptop again: everything came back normally. (If what I do can be considered normal at all)

  7. Roel

    This solution looks great – although I haven’t tried it yet. I have a NAS drive and all my photos reside on there, so I’d move the Picasa db there. One question – what happens when there’s a new version of Picasa? Where would the new version be installed?

  8. Zoli Erdos

    You will still need the application on all computers you want to access your photos from. Only the images, databases and system settings get centralized.

  9. kghastie

    Hi, awesome post. Been trolling the internet everywhere for possible solutions. I did notice one potential situation myself that scares me. Not sure if you’ve had a chance to test it:

    I once moved a bunch of albums onto a NAS mapped to U: (with no other wacky Picasa situations going on). I opened Picasa once when the NAS was offline, and Picasa decided to discard all of my albums pointing to that drive (permanently). I used one of the restore-albums-by-deleting-the-db tricks, but I am afraid I’ll have to do this every time. Your situation may be different, though, since if your “pc-as-network-share” is offline, you can’t start up picasa anyway.

    Thanks for a great post, though. Next up – do you have any idea how to combine Picasa databases from two computers without losing any albums/captions/croppings, etc…?

  10. greenawayj

    Thanks for all your hard work on this. I’ve been looking for a solution as well — Personally, I’d like mine to work in the Windows Home Server shared folder environment (which I can easily map to a local drive if I want). So I think I can make a variation of your solution work, but I just need to think about it some more.

    Regarding one of your last comments about PicasaWeb sync, I think I learned earlier this week that at least some aspects of ‘sync’ are 2-way. On Tuesday, I edited a photo caption as well as an album description in one of my synced folders. These (text) changes did migrate to my local PC Picasa install —- however, it’s either timed or needs a manual refresh. I didn’t want to wait to see if it would happen on it’s own, so I right-clicked the folder where I know I made the online edits and selected “Online Actions–>Refresh Online Status” and a few minutes later the captions and album description were on my PC. Next test is to make these types of changes as well as deletions to see if they propogate. I’ll let you know.

    I’m glad I found your blog today

  11. onthebay

    For those that wish to use it with a laptop… You could do a one-way sync from the “server” to the laptop for the database files and the photo directories. As long as you make all your changes on the “server” pc and Picasa is OFF when you make the sync then the remove PCs will have a consistent copy of the Picasa database.

    With this senario you can make one-off edits on laptop and the information will be overwritten the next time you sync.

    -or option 2-

    Set the Photo directories to be a full bi-directional sync and set the database directories to be a one-way sync from the server. Now if you make changes on the laptop most (but not all) of the information will appear on the server. The “server” When you run Picasa on the server after will import your changes when you sync the photo directories Picasa will properly import the photos. The next time you sync the laptop the database will be updated to match.

    This is what I am implementing. I’ll give more details if you are interested.

  12. emagin

    I found this solution much simpler:

    In your current solution:
    Symbolic Links don’t work on Windows XP
    You cannot mix WinXP and Vista/7 users

  13. wonderboy78

    thanks for this post!

    @ greenawayj

    I think the best way to import photos/albums/metadata from one picasa lib to another (say from 1 PC to another) is to create a backup from one, using picasa’s backup. This backup will have the metadata related to the images. In this backup folder, there will also be a “picasa restore” executable. If you run this on the 2nd pc, it should add all the images back into your library with the original directory structure etc.

    it’s really too bad that Picasa doesn’t do this the way lightroom does, where you can still access thumbnails of images if the image storage location isn’t accessible.

    picasaweb sync is at least partially 2-way.
    it does pull down captions, tags and I think cropping. but it doesn’t seem to pull down new images that are uploaded to the album (i share some albums for others to post to, ie: we were all on the same trip to disney).

  14. wonderboy78

    UPDATE! on picasaweb sync:
    it DOES pull down images that have been uploaded to your online album, that are not in your local album!!! very cool for the aforementioned “shared trip folder”

  15. the_roggy

    I created a little application that does similar things, but is just an application you need to start (no command line stuff), work also on earlier versions from windows (XP) and lets you have multiple Picasa databases (if you want).

    Can be found here:

  16. Bobby2010

    I dont like picasa, cause Im sharing a huge amount of files. Picasa useless for me. Im using powerful multiupload at 4shared. Last month I access 4shared with my Iphone. The other option for me is

  17. TerryM

    Don’t know what I’m doing wrong! I’d love to use this solution. Everything works right down to the point of setting up the mklink /d P O. It says the link is set up but properties shows nothing. Dir cmd show P [O]. Clicking on the link give C:\P refors to a location that is unavailable. Am I missing something here?

  18. Robbie

    You can keep folders synced with picasa web, and in a different computer you can import from picasa web. So you have the synced. The problem might be editing in picasa web, im not sure if those will sync to local stored pictures.

  19. akgupta

    I am using Window-Vista [don’t curse me :)] and have multiple accounts. Initially I created an Admin account and did all tagging for about 60GB of photos. Photos are in C:\users\public folder.

    Recently I created a new admin account and launched Picasa and it showed nothing… So I followed your procedure and did all the linking..

    I don’t see any photo tags on photos. PeopleManager shows all the names so I know it is reading them… How to fix it?


  20. Markey

    look up subst or you should have no issue mapping P: to \\\share or \\localhost\share or \\server\share from the main PC either

  21. KTReyn

    You rock!! Thanks for your hard work.

  22. Ryan

    I have a DNS-321 and I Store all my files on this. I have mapped the network drive and made it z: then did the steps that you outlined (mklink /d Picasa2 z:\Users\Public\Public PicasaLib\Picasa2″ and can keep getting “The syntax of the command is incorrect”. Can you help me with this?

  23. Ryan

    OK! I was able to create the links. BUT… Now I have one problem. When I open Picasa on my second computer it gives me a message saying that all my faces have to be rescanned. HOW CAN I FIX THIS?? I have now gone through all my people more than I have ever wanted too!

  24. Jim

    Well explained. I am hoping to sync my Picasa environment between computers in different locations using SugarSync. Do you know if it is possible to do this by syncing both the folder for the pictures and the PicasaLib folder between these two locations? It would seem that whenever these are modified in one location, the SugarSync synchronization should bring them current in the other location. Does this make sense? I had thought about just syncing using Picasa Web Albums, but this doesn’t really reflect all local changes.

  25. InfoJester

    I am happy to report that after getting this to work with a windows client connecting to a windows server I have also got a Linux client Picasa (running under WINE on Ubuntu) to connect to the windows server.

    For anyone who understands cifs shares in Linux this is child’s play. For me there was a little learning involved. The key command really is
    sudo mount -t cifs “//[windows server]/[share name]” -o “username=[windows user],password=[windows password],uid=$USER,gid=$USER” /mnt/picasamount

    This mounts the windows share. You can then add that as a separate drive in WINE. Then you can use Linux to create your links (ln -s) as described above. And you’re done!
    (I think you have to add the drive to WINE rather than rely only on the links because as stated above Picasa uses absolute paths to find the pictures themselves)

  26. KarmaDave

    Thanks for an excellent article. I have Picasa installed on one Vista PC which is shared by my wife and me. We have separate desktops. I do all photo downloads and albums, and they all exist only on my desktop (before the change). Our goal is to collaborate while working on our photos. Following the steps for “Move your photo library to a public location” allows us to achieve that goal. My contribution here is to elaborate on a step that may be confusing to some. The last step says to “Repeat the above relocation steps for all other users on the same computer, and check their Folder Manager setting in Picasa.” By relocation I believe he just means to make a symbolic link for all other users. Moving each user’s internal database to the public folder would end up with the last one done being the one used. That would not have worked for me. So, open the other user’s desktop. Be sure Picasa is not running. Rename the other user’s Picasa2 and Picasa2albums folders. Use the exact same syntax as shown earlier to create a symbolic link to the public picasa2 and picasa2albums folders created for the first user. Start Picasa. Set Folder Manager as instructed. My scan option is set to Scan Once, but probably Scan Always would be better if multiple users are downloading photos. I did all this from my wife’s desktop and now we can collaborate. She did not have any photos or albums so I did not try to merge anything. If photos and albums exist on multiple desktops, then things could be a little more complicated. Probably merging photos would not be too hard, but merging albums may not be possible. I will leave that for someone else to figure out. Anyway, THANKS AGAIN!

  27. Robert

    Picasa working on multiple (3) PCs – many thanks. The only information that doesn’t seem to be shared is the sync status of each directory. Each time I move PCs the entire sync to web process starts all over again (and takes about 3 days). Any easy solution would be to turn off sync for each folder – any other ideas? Robert.

  28. Giovanni

    Great post … any chance anyone has found something similar for Macs?

  29. Geoffrey

    Very helpful, well laid out, and detailed.

    Used this guide more than once!

  30. cd

    Thanks for that! I just got a new computer that my wife and I will share, and it’s great to have it so that we can share our pictures, edit, add tags, etc. Took a few attempts to get it set up, but it’s working great now – I just didn’t follow the instructions correctly the first time.

    Thanks again!