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Picasa 3: That syncing feeling

Google's photo-management and online sharing program Picasa has upgraded to version 3, adding new features and a new look

Feeling lucky? Google has upgraded Picasa to Picasa 3. Picasa is a desktop application that manages your photos, integrated with online Web albums. The app is a great piece of kit that Crave uses heavily every day, and after a few days of exploring the upgrade, we're pretty pleased with the new features and new look.

The first time you fire it up, Picasa will search your computer for images, and add containing folders to the sidebar. It then keeps track of all your pictures, now including the ability to move folders around from within the software.

Picasa Web Albums is an online photo storage and sharing site. One problem with keeping files on your computer and backing them up to the cloud is that you can end up with different versions of the same image. A new Web sync feature gets round this by copying any editing you do on your computer to the online backup.

Picasa has always featured basic editing tools, including automatic contrast and white-balance correction. Now you also get a clone stamp-like retouch tool, the ability to add text and watermarks, and an 'I'm feeling lucky' all-in-one correction option -- very Google.

The photo browser setup has added the option to select all photos with faces in. This works to a point, in that it usually finds most pictures with faces in, but you will still need to manually select others. Delving into the experimental tools, there's a clever search setting that allows you to pull together images by colour. We picked green, for example, and got all the pictures we had taken in parks or fields, as well as others with a predominantly green cast or a prominent green feature.

Raw files and videos are supported, along with easy viewing of EXIF data. You can also mix media to create slideshows.

As you'd expect, there's some solid integration with other Google services, including the option to blog an image into Blogger or geotag for Google Earth. There isn't any direct link-up to other photo sites such as Flickr, but it's easy to email pictures to sites that support email upload.

As if all that wasn't enough, Picasa 3 also adds a lightweight image preview tool that takes over from Windows' own version. From what we've seen, it's faster, prettier and cleverer than the Windows preview.

Picasa 3 is free and available to download now. For more cool stuff to do with your photos, why not read Turbo-charge your photos: Phoenix, Flickr, JPEGCrops and Qtpfsgui, or check out our favourite Online image editors for blogging: Reviewed and rated.