Photo management for the computer challenged
March 18, 2017 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Mom is in her 70s and does okay with computers, but is struggling with Windows 10 and organizing her photos. Any suggestions for programs that may help? Details inside.

Mom loved Picassa, but it recently "went crazy" (per her) and un-organized a lot of her stuff. Trying to help her with that (no real details as she has not been able to explain it to me coherently) led me to find out Picassa is no longer supported.

So I tried to get her to use Photos on her Windows 10 machine, but she says she can't get the hang of it and that she will have to "reorganize" everything again (still, no real detail here) - so she decided she would just deal with her files in Windows directly.

This morning she calls to let me know she has accidentally renamed 91 things (don't know what the things are or how she did it - she refers to all applications as "Word", but I managed to figure out this was in the Windows file system).

I'm out of suggestions and patience. Anyone know of a very user friendly photo organization app for Windows 10 that is somewhat Picassa like?
posted by hilaryjade to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Oh man I feel you, this is super challenging. I think I would suggest two things

1. Seeing if she still has Picasa and wants to use it. It sort of doesn't matter if it's no longer supported, in my opinion.
2. In order to do that, getting something with screen share capability (Skype? Other stuff) so you can see what she is talking about

Your mom may or may not fully understand that Picasa is just a thing that puts an organizational layer on top of her regular photos. Also, is it possible she got a new machine and is having difficulty mastering the physical aspect of mousing and using a trackpad or a touchscreen? I have had a lot of people I've been working with who inadvertent touch their trackpad and all manner of weird things happen. So the answer there is usually finding ways to turn off the trackpad, not switch software. Also what is her internet connection like? Is it possible that online photo organizing would work for her? It's not for everyone but some people (my mom!) are really into it.

Also, I know it's hard but I'd either get yourself more IN the loop here or more OUT of the loop. Your mom either needs to be part of this system by trying to learn the vocabulary and report what is going on more usefully, or she needs to just take your word for things, use what you tell her to use and chill. I know this is more easily said than done but the answer often in these cases is "Use what your friends/family have" How comfy is she with her computer generally? Would she benefit from a book like one of the Missing Manuals series or maybe some straightforward online tutorials like GFC LearnFree or Universal Class (which her library might have)?
posted by jessamyn at 9:09 AM on March 18

Picasa is indeed no longer supported, but as long as you prevent it from updating itself to Google Photos it should still work.

If I were in your shoes, I'd allocate a whole day for a visit to Mom, where you sit with her and she shows you exactly what "went crazy" means. Then you figure out which control she accidentally clicked (perhaps she put the left pane in tree view instead of flat view, or perhaps she's accidentally clicked the little triangle that opens People view and now her familiar folders have all disappeared below the bottom of the pane?), un-click it, and show her where it is and make her click it and un-click it until she knows what to do next time it goes "crazy".

There is no way to do this quickly.

The Photos app on Windows 10 is, in my opinion, an unmitigated disaster. I wouldn't go that way.

Windows Live Photo Gallery isn't bad, if you do end up dumping Picasa.
posted by flabdablet at 10:06 AM on March 18

Working with files directly in Windows explorer is not a bad option, you will never have to worry about the interface changing hugely or being deprecated in the future.
This multi-file rename is probably what happened.
posted by Lanark at 12:57 PM on March 18

What about auto backup to Google photos and use that? Not much organisation then needed as it allows you to browse chronologically and will auto create albums for time and place. The person and object search is handy too. Free if you go for standard quality with at sixteen megapixels should be enough. Having everything on the web makes easy for sharing and safer than just a single copy on a local machine.
posted by JonB at 1:27 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]

If you are not in the same geographic area, it might be helpful to install something like TeamViewer next time you are there. This will allow you to easily connect and remotely control her PC and figure out what's going on.

I also suggest that Google Photos might be the way forward, especially if she can upload her current set of photos and let it get to work automatically indexing and grouping them. Ultimately what some people are looking for is a way to find photos and Google Photos search facilities are quite good and improving.
posted by Stark at 2:20 PM on March 18

Working with files directly in Windows explorer is not a bad option

Indeed, especially since Explorer became capable of showing thumbnails instead of icons for photo files.

Unless Mom's photo collection is absolutely massive, she could probably go a fair way toward keeping it organized just by naming folders carefully.

If she wants something like tagging by subject, and folders are not enough to get that done, creative use of Windows shortcuts can help (yes, I can hear the gasp of dismay at the idea of having to explain shortcuts to Mom, but stick with me here).

If you do actually manage to teach her how to do Right-click, Copy, Right-click, Paste Shortcut; then show her how the shortcut has a much smaller filesize, and has a little arrow in the corner, and a name that includes the word "Shortcut", you can show her how to use them to do tagging.

The method is to set up a folder that will only contain shortcuts, and give that folder a name like for example "Shortcuts to sunsets". Then as you wander through the photo collection, every time you find a photo taken at sunset you can copy a shortcut to that into "Shortcuts to sunsets", which now functions in much the same way as a Picasa album would have done.
posted by flabdablet at 11:26 PM on March 19

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