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How to use search for pictures in Picasa

Using the search bar at the top of Picasa to search for the following

  1. Caption text
  2. Tags
  3. Name Tags (people names)
  4. File names (the name of the photo: JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG, TGA, TIF, TIFF, WEBP, PSD, RAW; the name of the movie/video: AVI, MPG, ASF, WMV)
  5. Folder names (all nested levels)
  6. Album names
  7. "Place Taken" field of an album or folder (double-click a folder or album in the folder list to see the Album/Folder Properties and "Place Taken" field)
  8. "Description" field of an album or folder (double-click a folder or album in the folder list to see Album/Folder Properties and "Description" field)
  9. "Date" field found in an album or folder (double-click a folder or album in the folder list to see Album/Folder Properties and "Date" field)
  10. Certain EXIF fields such as the camera model
  11. Pixel resolution: To search for a photo that is 1234 x 1800 pixels, you can type in both numbers or one of the pixel numbers
  12. Date a photo was taken. Example, search for 2017:06:23 to find photos taken on June 23, 2017
Searches that won't work
  1. Text added to the top of a photo using the "Text" tool in the edit window
  2. Searching works on matching the first parts of words but it won't match on the middle part of a word. For example, if the caption is "There is George" - a search for "The" or a search for "Geo" would find that photo because those search terms are from the first parts of words. However, a search for "eorge" would not find that photo because no word in the caption begins with "eorge"
  3. Searching in Picasa uses the Boolean operator AND only. There is no built-in way to specify an OR search. A search for Billy Mary would return hits that include both Billy and Mary. See the section below "Saving searches" for a work-around way to search for OR
How searches works in Picasa
Picasa's indexing code breaks up the text it is searching into "words." It generally breaks on a space, a dot or period, and an underscore. This means that searching for 1234 will find IMG_1234.jpg because the tokens for that file name are "IMG" and "1234" and "jpg". However, searching for 1234 will not find Pict1234.jpg because Pict1234.jpg breaks into "Pict1234" and "jpg" - the "1234" is not a separate token (word) and "1234" isn't the start of the "Pict1234" token/word.

Picasa puts ALL of the separate words/tokens in the folder names, caption text, tag names, file names, descriptions, and location text, etc., into its index. Picasa's search runs off of that index, so searching for words/tokens will find tags plus a lot of other hits (often more hits than expected). 

Advanced searching
  • Use a minus sign (hypen) as a Boolean operator for NOT. A search for frog -legs would find photos that have "frog" but do not have "legs"
  • Use a tag: keyword to specify that you only want to search in the tags of pictures. A search for tag:frog will find only pictures that specifically have the tag "frog" but will not show untagged pictures in a folder called "frog" 
  • Use a color: keyword to search for pictures that are mainly of a specific color. A search for color:green will return pictures that are mainly green.
  • File names with dashes. If your file names have dashes in them, searching for that file name in Picasa is difficult. Picasa may not be able to find the photo. You'll have to take out the dashes and search again without the dash(s). Or spend lots of time to remove dashes manually from file names and replace them with an underscore. Get rid of the dashes much more quickly by installing the free CleanFileName button from the PicasaStarter website: https://sites.google.com/site/picasastartersite/custom-picasa-buttons/CleanFileName
Saving searches
  • After searching, click Tools > Experimental > Save search results. An Albums Properties dialog box will open and you can type in the name of the album. If there are 1000s of hits, you'll be asked to confirm that you want to create an album. 
  • If you need an OR search, you could do two separate searches and create an album for each search. Then, add the photos in the first album to the second album.
  • You can create an album that consists of all of the photos that have a certain tag. Search for the tag then click Tools > Experimental > Show tag as album. An "Add search tag" dialog box will open asking you to "Please enter a tag to show as an album"
  • Type in a search term and hit the Enter key. You'll see all the search results displayed as a temporary green-folder album; you will not need to scroll through the library and folders to see the results. 
Other search features
To clear a search, click the X at the far right side of the search bar. See screenshot below.

To the left of the search bar are search filters with icons such as
  1. Star: Show starred photos only
  2. Up arrow: Show uploads to web albums only
  3. Headshot: Show only photos with faces
  4. Filmstrip: Show movies only
  5. Geotag marker: Show only photos with a geotag