Picasa 3.9 + F-spot together on Ubuntu

Some people want to use F-Spot and Picasa together – F-spot to import and tag photos; and Picasa to do minor editing ready for printing. Here’s their desired workflow:

  1. attach camera
  2. import into F-Spot
  3. do editing in Picasa
  4. want any changes to also be the same in F-spot.

This should be manageable given that Picasa can work on existing files, without having to separately import them to a different place on the file system. So the photo files are where F-Spot put them, and, irrespective of how Picasa organises them in its own “virtual” folders, changes made to the photo in Picasa alter the original photo in its F-spot location. So far, so good.

But there is one issue. If you install the last version of Picasa made for Linux, it is significantly out-of-date. It works as described with Picasa, but it is old. And if you install the latest version of Picasa (3.9) under WINE (instructions), a problem occurs when bringing all the photos into Picasa. Instead of merely pointing to the file locations for the photos, Picasa actually separately makes copies of them. Which means that when you edit them, the original in F-spot is unaltered.

Fortunately, there is a workaround and it involves changing the way Picasa watches folders. It requires some simple edits to the watchedfolders.txt file in: /home/username/.wine/dosdevices/c:/users/username/Local Settings/Application Data/Google/Picasa2Albums

Note: even though you might be using Picasa 3.9, the path is Picasa2Albums.

Make the following alterations as appropriate, depending on which folders you have photos in:

C:\users\username\My Pictures\ –>

/home/username/Pictures

/home/username/Pictures\

C:\users\username\My Documents\ –>

/home/username/Documents

/home/username/Documents\

C:\users\username\Desktop –>

/home/username/Desktop

/home/username/Desktop\

Note that both versions seem to be needed (see also How can I get Picasa to view my second HDD?).

[UPDATE]

Here are some extra issues I encountered:

  • One huge gotcha – Picasa cropping must be Saved to change the file on disk. Clicking on “Apply Change” is not enough to change the file on disk even though the change persists within Picasa. If it isn’t saved, the change is only visible when looking at the image in Picasa – it won’t show up when looking at the file otherwise (e.g. using ImageViewer) and that includes F-Spot. Can’t really blame F-spot for that.
  • F-Spot doesn’t automatically know about files put into its folder structure e.g. if you manually insert an image into /home/username/Photos/2014/03/03 f-spot won’t display it.
  • Picasa only grabs images from the watched folders if they have an image extension e.g. .jpg. Otherwise it ignores them.

The net result is that if you want a simple workflow where you view and tag photos in F-Spot and modify images using Picasa you should follow these instructions:

WORKFLOW INSTRUCTIONS

  • Only put images into F-Spot using import. Don’t manually put images into the standard folders F-Spot uses e.g. “Photos/2014/03/03/”.

    A simple workflow is to have a standard folder under Photos e.g. “Photos/0 Upload These” where you put copies of photos whether you get them from a camera or from another source e.g. as email attachments. You can give these human-readable names such as me_at_beach.jpg rather than IMG9805.JPG etc before importing them. Once imported into F-Spot (and thus copies put into the date-driven folder locations), empty the “Photos/0 Upload These” folder.

  • Save changes in Picasa – don’t just Apply Changes.
  • If you want multiple versions of an image, make them in F-Spot so F-Spot knows about them, then edit the extra versions in Picasa.

    To create new versions in F-Spot File, select a photo, then Photo>Create New Version in the menu.