Jeffrey’s “Picasa Face-Recognition Import” Lightroom Plugin

In my December 2009 blog post ”Giving Up on Picasa Face Recognition”, I outlined a number of concerns with the face recognition of Google's Picasa Desktop photo-organizing application, and with trying to work the face-recognition results back into Lightroom.

I had built a Lightroom plugin for importing the data, and though I'm much less excited about it after finding the problems, I'm releasing it in case anyone else might find it useful.

This plugin works in Lightroom 5, Lightroom 4 and Lightroom 3 (though some features may be missing in older versions of Lightroom).

The same download works for both Windows and Mac. See the box to the upper right for the download link (in orange) and installation instructions.

When considering whether to use the Picasa desktop application on the photos in your Lightroom catalog, be warned that Picasa may update your image files with its own metadata. This could cause a conflict between the apps, and worse for some, it means that your master image files can be changed without notice (some people prefer a workflow in which the out-of-camera master image files are absolutely immutable — that is, never, ever, changed).

It's best to understand exactly if/when Picasa might want to change your files, and avoid it. In my case, I simply ensured that 1) I had a good backup before giving it a try, and 2) that every image file was marked “read only”.

Picasa Setup

As per this comment below, ensure that Picasa's “Store face tags in image files” option is not turned on. Setting your master image files to “read only” in the file system should also do the trick.

Using the Plugin

Before importing face data the first time, invoke File > Plugin Extras > Picasa Face-Data Settings to choose whether face-related keywords created by this plugin should be marked “included on export”. By default they are not.

From then on, once you have done new face-recognition work on some images in Picasa, simply select the same images in Lightroom and invoke File > Plugin Extras > Import Picasa Face Data. The plugin creates and maintains a list of face-name keywords under an all-encompassing parent keywords “Picasa Faces”.

The plugin matches up image data via image filename and path, so both Picasa and Lightroom must be working with the exact same image files (and not, for example, merely identical copies).

If you make changes in the list of faces for an image in Picasa, simply re-invoke the face-data import in Lightroom to read the new data.

Keyword Maintenance

You can move or rename the “Picasa Faces” parent keyword as you like, but generally, you should not rename or move child keywords that the plugin creates under it. The plugin creates keywords with names from the Picasa database, and assigns and unassigns them to photos as appropriate.

When the face-data import is going on, for each name referenced by the photos, the plugin ensures that there's a similarly-named child keyword under the “Picasa Faces” parent, creating it if required. Then, for each photo under consideration, the plugin ensures there's a child keyword for each Picasa-assigned name, and that there are no extra child keywords.

This means that all face maintenance must be done in Picasa: adding, removing, or renaming face-related keywords in Lightroom does not reflect changes back to Picasa; any such changes for a photo are lost the next time you do a face-data import for the photo.

Renaming a Face — If you rename a face in Picasa, it's the same to this plugin as deleting one face and adding another. However, if you rename a face in Picasa and apply the same rename operation on the associated child keyword prior to the next face-data import, the renamed keyword should be used as expected. This won't matter either way for most people, but it is important if you have made custom changes to the keyword settings, such as whether to include it on export, or created keyword synonyms.

Count of Faces

The plugin keeps one item of custom per-image metadata, “Faces”, a count of how many faces have been registered for the photo. It starts off as “Unknown” for photos that have not been subject to face-data import, but becomes “none”, “1”, “2”, “3”, etc. to reflect the number of faces. This field can be used within the library grid filter (select “Faces” in a “Metadata” column) and smart-collection rules.


This plugin is distributed as “donationware”. I have chosen to make it available for free — everyone can use it forever, without cost of any kind — but unless registered, its functionality is somewhat reduced after six weeks. Registration is done via PayPal, and if you choose to register, it costs the minimum 1-cent PayPal fee; any amount you'd like to add beyond PayPal's sliding fees as a gift to me is completely optional, and completely appreciated. For details, see my blog post titled Lightroom Plugin Development: Now With Added Encouragement. If you're interested in how I picked up a plugin-development hobby like this, see My Long Path To Lightroom Plugin Development.

Version History
( Update Log via RSS )


Make the revalidation process smoother, especially for folks using Lr5.4 and later.

20130613.43 Better support for plugin revalidation.
20130611.42 Yet another Lr5 update
20130610.41 Final update for Lr5
20130501.40 Update for Lr5
20130412.39 Build system update.
20130328.38 Fix for the registration system.
20130311.37 Worked around an intermittent problem in Lightroom that caused the plugin to wedgie in the plugin manager
20130209.36 More build-system maintenance
20130206.35 Tweak for my registration system
20120906.33 Added the ability to bulk set/clear the "Include on Export" flag for all face keywords.
20120608.32 Fix an "attempt to perform arithmetic on field" error.

Update to handle the Mac App Store version of Lightroom.

Tweak for Lr4.1RC2.

Enhanced the send-log dialog to hopefully make reports more meaningful to me, yielding, I hope, the ability to respond more sensibly to more reports.

20120330.30 Update to handle 4.1RC
20120309.29 Had broken registrations in Lr2; Update to the debug logging to better track down timing issues that might arise.

More on the march toward Lr4, including upheaval in the code to handle Lightroom APIs being discontinued in Lr4.

Fixed "attempt to index a boolean value" error.

20120114.27 More tweaks for Lr4b

Update for Lr4 beta: explain in the plugin manager that the plugin can't be registered in the beta.


Had issues with the registration button sometimes not showing.

When doing a plugin upgrade, offer the ability to flush all the old copies of the plugin.

Added a system-clock check and reports to the user if the system clock is more than a minute out of date. An incorrect system clock can cause problems with various kinds of communication and authentication with some of my plugins, so I've just gone ahead and added this to every plugin.

20110813.24 Handle the situation where Lightroom has raw+JPG, but Picasa has only JPG.
20110403.23 If the plugin can't find the Picasa db3 files where it was told, give the user a chance to change the location. Duh!
20110324.22 Added a new setting to allow face keywords to remain even if the face is no longer referenced in Picasa, allowing you to tweak the face data manually.
20110206.21 Also check for face data in a folder's "Picasa.ini" (sans leading dot), since old versions of Picasa used that. Added some extra debug logging to try to track down a db-load issue.
20110113.20 Fixed the plugin crash... the plugin wouldn't have worked for those with nested keywords, sorry. Fixed.
20110109.19 Add some debug logging to track down a plugin crash.
20101222.18 Rather than accumulate keyword changes until the end of the operation, write them to the catalog in small lumps as the face-data import goes on. This has the drawback of potentially littering the undo stack with many operations, but it avoids a potentially long period of "lockup" once all photos have been scanned.
20101222.17 Yikes, was too aggressive in cleaning up unused face keywords, and was actually removing all non-face keywords(!). Fixed.
20101221.16 Fixed the text in the progress bar.
20101221.15 Turns out that I was not reading the Picasa data properly, missing on average 1/16th of the names. Fixed.
20101221.14 Now manages names with real keywords. Now requires Lr3.3.
20101220.13 Final version for Lr2. Subsequent versions will require Lr3.3 or later.
20100829.12 Made the revalidation process much simpler, doing away with the silly need for a revalidation file.
20100820.11 Discovered a bug in my plugin build system that caused horribly difficult-to-track-down errors in one plugin, so am pushing out rebuilt versions of all plugins just in case.
20100625.10 Yikes, shaking out some more build issues.
20100624.9 Discovered a nasty build bug; pushing a new version in case it affects this plugin.
20100325.8 Remove the expiration... sorry, that had been left over from testing.
20100215.7 My bad, sorry, hadn't tested the previous fix on Windows.

Add a dialog that allows the user to specify where the Picasa "db3" folder is on their system, for when the plugin can't figure it out on its own.

Completely changed how the one-click upgrade applies the newly-downloaded zip file, in the hopes that it'll work for more people. Rather than unzipping over the old copy, it now unzips to a temporary folder, then moves the old folder out of the way and the new folder into place. Prior versions' folders are now maintained (with the version number in the folder) in case you want to revert a version; you may want to clear them out from time to time. Of course, it won't take affect until you try to upgrade after having upgraded to or beyond this version.

20091224.5 Turns out that there's a Lightroom limit to the length of names I can record for a photo, so to avoid errors, I've taken the equally unappealing option of lopping off the name list at its maximum value (511 bytes).
20091216.4 Okay, tried to be just a bit less stupid about looking for the "db3" folder.
20091216.2 Updated "db3" location for Win7.
20091215.1 Initial Public Release.

Comments so far....

Hello Jeffrey,

I just installed on lightroom 3 Beta, and i get this message when i try to import faces tagged on picasa

Can’t find picasa Database Folder ‘db3′

Any idea?



Look around on your system for a folder named “db3″ and let me know the full path to it. On Windows XP it’s in the user’s Application Data / Google tree (within either “Picasa2″ or “Picasa3″). I suspect it’s different on Vista or Win7, so just let me know where…. —Jeffrey

— comment by Manuel on December 16th, 2009 at 12:09am JST (4 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

I was under the impression Picasa didn’t change the original file either. It stores whatever edits you make in a .ini text file (I believe; can’t remember the extension, though I’m pretty sure it’s not xmp) for each directory. Only when you Save it would it then write the changes to an image file – though usually you rename it (and I think Picasa warns you about overwriting the original).

But it’s been a while since I’ve really used Picasa.

— comment by Duluk on December 16th, 2009 at 2:39am JST (4 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink


Thanks – this is fantastic. Can’t wait to try!


— comment by Dan on December 22nd, 2009 at 1:40am JST (4 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Jeffrey, I appreciate this is work in progress, but there’s an apparent bug – when importing into a largish catalog (15,000 pictures) it stops with an error: “searchable strings must be less than 512 bytes; this value is 736 bytes”.



Take pictures with fewer people in them, or of people with shorter names. :-) I didn’t realize that there was a limit, but this is certainly because the list of people for a particular photo is too long. The best I can do now is lop off the list of names at the maximum length (I just pushed v5 that does that); let’s hope that Adobe eventually adds the ability to set keywords, so that I can dispense with this list-of-names kludge entirely. —Jeffrey

— comment by Dan on December 24th, 2009 at 8:57pm JST (4 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Ah, might be something to do with those wedding photos where Picasa had recognised 150 people…

thank you for the fix!


— comment by Dan on December 24th, 2009 at 10:34pm JST (4 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Thanks for another great plugin! I’ll give it a try tomorrow. I was playing around with Picasa a few weeks ago (doing like you said in your other post, “I’ll stop soon” while continuing to tag for another few hours). I was hoping you’d write something like this, I hadn’t found any other way to get the Picasa data into Lightroom.

— comment by Andrew Maiman on December 25th, 2009 at 11:34am JST (4 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Oh Jeffrey, you are a genius!
I was thinking, too, how to do the trick, but you already did it!
I have found no way of getting the data OUT of Picasa, may I ask (by PM) how you did the trick?
About importing as keywords: What about this: You could write a plain-text, tab-delimited (wonder about the encoding) file which the user could manually import via Metadata > Import Keywords. I am pretty sure that people would be willing to do this single manual step to get “real” keywords, in the end, setting the faces in Picasa involces plenty of manual work, too!
Three cheers!

Picasa writes the per-photo data to a per-folder file, “.picasa.ini”, which the plugin scans. That file encodes each person with a code, the mapping to name being found in another file in the Picasa app-data area. LR3 should allow plugins to write keywords, so I’m reticent to spend much time on workarounds now, but I’d not known about keyword import, so I’ll take a look. —Jeffrey

— comment by Nose on January 10th, 2010 at 3:16am JST (4 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink


What a great piece of work! Just what I was looking for. One question though: what exactly is Picasa changing metadata-wise? Is it just adding some stuff, or is it also altering data what previously was entered in Lightroom?

Right now I am almost finished with taggin 150k of photo’s with around 200k of faces in it, so I hope you can answer my question before I screw the whole thing up…

BTW: I do have backups

The plugin adds one line of custom metadata to each image (visible in the All Plug-in Metadata viewer tagset), so it doesn’t change anything originally in LR. —Jeffrey

— comment by Frank on February 2nd, 2010 at 3:19am JST (4 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Thank you, the plugin is timesaver.

I’ve wrote a script for this task, it parses picasa.ini files, seeks for faces data and runs exiftool to add keywords directly into image file. But your plugin is more convenient and fast. Anyway my primary task is to separate photos with people, I don’t care who’s on them.

— comment by Alex Krylov on March 11th, 2010 at 11:17pm JST (4 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

It looks like this plugin expired today. Could you release an update with an extended expiration date?

Sorry ’bout that… had forgotten about it. Just pushed a version that doesn’t expire. —Jeffrey

— comment by Andrew Maiman on March 25th, 2010 at 3:57am JST (4 years ago) comment permalink

Wow! Awesome plug-in!

I had an similar Picasa face recognition experience as you. I spent a couple days compulsively recognizing faces even though I used LR. Being a programmer, I had thought maybe I’d research the Picasa database format and write some sort of way to import the data in XMP files for LR. But, I first did a search to see if someone else may have done something similar and I stubbled across your work.

This is fantastic! It worked just fine without any problems, and did the import of data quite quickly, especially considering I have over 13,000 photos.

I’ll definitely be sending a donation your way. Nice job!

— comment by Brian Stormont on May 17th, 2010 at 6:53am JST (3 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Wouldn’t it be nice to take advantage of the amazing way that facebook’s tagging feature encourages group tagging activity? The whole community gets involved in saying who is who. This generates a lot of good data on people (sometimes people we don’t even know.) Would there be any way to take all the tagging information from fb photos and apply that to the home database?

Indeed, good idea… I’ll have to look into that. Won’t be until after Lr3 is out and the dust settles a bit, though. —Jeffrey

— comment by Alonzo Riley on May 23rd, 2010 at 10:53am JST (3 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Hu Jeffrey,

I guess you’re super busy, but please could you give picasa face import some loving for lightroom 3?
I believe plugins can now write the keywords directly to normal metadata? Any other LR3 specific improvements you could add?

Thanks for the great plugins!!!


— comment by Mike Thicke on June 9th, 2010 at 2:59pm JST (3 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

Another decoding issue. Looks like the program is not handling face ID’s that begin with zero correctly.

An ID such as:

found 010452c72fe3d62f [Melissa]

will not get handled correctly for the INI entry:

[Picture 7-27-2003 4-12-17 PM.jpg]

I think the leading zero(s) is causing problems.

I have about 6000 ID’s in my database, it is mostly working. Debug log is very helpful.


— comment by Tom Scharf on July 14th, 2010 at 12:38pm JST (3 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

I can only second Mike’s comment two above mine. I think Picasa face recognition has become much better since the earlier version, and Iwould really love being able to import the data into Lightroom keywords. So if LR3 allows for that, I’d really appreciate an update of your plugin.

Thanks for all the great work, your Picasa export plugin does an excellent job!

Kind regards,

— comment by Uwe on November 15th, 2010 at 1:07am JST (3 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

I tried Picasa again (Picasa 3.8) and was horrified to find that at launch it’s trying to import every bit of media on my entire system, and there’s no way to stop it, except, of course, not to use Picasa. (Reminds me of the tag line in War Games.) This is unbelievably arrogant and an insult to anyone with more computer savvy than a wrench. It’s their product to do with what they want, of course, but I won’t be using Picasa until this is fixed, so I wouldn’t expect any updates for this plugin for a long time. )-:

— comment by Jeffrey Friedl on December 20th, 2010 at 1:49pm JST (3 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Well, I didn’t like the feeling of being defeated after leaving that last comment, so dug further and was able to figure out a way to shut down the stupid full-system scan, and have been working on an updated version of the plugin with real keyword support. The next version will be for Lr3.3+ only.

— comment by Jeffrey Friedl on December 21st, 2010 at 8:23am JST (3 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Jeffrey the Hero! Looking forward to the update :)

I’ve pushed it out. —Jeffrey

— comment by Mike Thicke on December 21st, 2010 at 5:08pm JST (3 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Wow, that was the briefest “long time” for an update ever. :-D

Great stuff, I can’t wait getting home tonight to try it out. Many many thanks, Jeffrey!

I have never experienced that behaviour of Picasa, apparently it only happens in the Mac version. I’m a mere Windows user.

— comment by Uwe on December 21st, 2010 at 6:25pm JST (3 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

The plugin sounds great as I’ve spent a lot of time with Picasa and its face recognition. However, the import killed ALL my tags and overwrote them with the ones from Picasa and otherwise cleared them completely. Well, this is not exactly what I had expected. :-/

I’m glad that I have a full catalog backup which I have to use to write the tags back to my photos. At least I hope that it’ll work this way.

Have I done anything wrong, missed a setting (I ticked the box in the settings), could Lr 3.3 or Picasa (on a Mac with OS X 10.6.5) be the issue, or is it a bug in version 20101221.16 of the plugin? Any help is most appreciated. Thanks.

Yikes, sorry about that… fixed in 20101222.17 —Jeffrey

— comment by Daniel on December 22nd, 2010 at 12:30am JST (3 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Yes – fantastic to see the plugin updated, and making it work with the keyword hierarchy is perfect… but at the moment it zaps existing tags (all but five, for some reason, in my case). Not a problem for me, as I had a backup. Great if you can fix this, but in any event may be helpful for you to add a “backup your catalog first” health warning on the front page (or even in the plugin itself)



Yikes, sorry about that… fixed in 20101222.17 —Jeffrey

— comment by Dan on December 22nd, 2010 at 1:10am JST (3 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey

I’m a big fan of your work, and want to see this one working well as I have about 30,000 images face tagged in Picasa. I have been following its development closely and am soooo pleased you’ve decided to spend more time on it. I’m sure you’ll sort out the bugs.


— comment by Dave on December 22nd, 2010 at 4:24am JST (3 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Whoops – plug in got to 38,060 of 38,o66 and then stopped.

Once it processes all the images, it then flushes the keyword changes to the catalog, a step which could take a long time. I’ll look into better reporting…. —Jeffrey

— comment by Dave on December 22nd, 2010 at 4:36am JST (3 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

That is just brilliant – thank you

— comment by Dan on December 22nd, 2010 at 7:44pm JST (3 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Thank you for making this work with LR3.
I was happy to donate, and as I’m typing here, LR is busy matching 41K images to Picasa.

I’ve been using AvPicFaceXmpTagger (http://www.anvo-it.de/wiki/avpicfacexmptagger:main) with limited success, but it does have the benefit of mapping Picasa face names to existing hierarchical keywords.

This ability would be a great enhancement, as it would save me the trouble of having to remap Picasa names to existing people already in hierarchical keywords.

— comment by Pieter on December 25th, 2010 at 9:48am JST (3 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Fantastic! Just run the import for the first time and I hope it will work as well in the future.

I just wonder why this plugin is not the top hit when googling for “lightroom picasa face”

— comment by Mika on December 25th, 2010 at 11:39pm JST (3 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Does this do anything with the tagged face regions? That is, does it store where in the photo each person is, or does it just transfer the keywords of who was in the photo? Ultimately I want to be able to know not just who is in the photo, but who each person in the photo is!

Further, if it does, does lightroom have any ability to display these regions as tagged, or will lightroom ignore all region data for now?

The plugin merely copies over the names…. the region data is ignored, as I have no way to do anything with it in Lightroom. —Jeffrey

— comment by Travis on January 15th, 2011 at 7:28am JST (3 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

I just installed the plugin and tried it out on a couple of photos. The plugin successfully added the “Faces” metadata attribute and set it to the number of faces in the photo. However, it did not add a “Picasa Faces” attribute to the metadata with the list of face names. I’m running Lightroom 3.3 and Picasa 3.8.7 on Snow Leopard.

It did that in Lr2 because that’s the best the plugin was allowed to do, but in Lr3 the plugin can update keywords, so it actually does that now. See docs above. —Jeffrey

— comment by Jamie on January 31st, 2011 at 3:17pm JST (3 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey, I found a small flaw in your plugin. As I understood it from the log files, it looks for a file .picasa.ini in every folder. However, in many folders on my drive this file is named Picasa.ini (w/o the leading dot), don’t ask me why. Maybe it was the old naming, and Picasa now uses the new name when creating a new ini file but does not touch existing files.

Do you think you could change your plugin to also look for Picasa.ini files?

Done, as of .d1. —Jeffrey

— comment by Uwe on February 1st, 2011 at 8:29am JST (3 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

This is exactly what i want and I’ve very excited to try it out, but very concerned about the warning above: “Picasa may update your image files with its own metadata”. I’m sure others are salivating at using this but the thought that they can ruin their development settings, keywords, etc. in Lightroom is enough to walk away. Most of my images are raw and using sidecar files w/ lightroom and wonder if there are any blogs or resources that can help me understand the specific risks of using both LR and Picasa on the same files? It would be especially helpful as my wife prefers Picasa (i realize she can’t see any LR develop settings but that would be too much to ask for!) Also, wonder converting everything to DNG might be a safer bet.

Thanks for this, and i can’t wait to try it!

The safest bet is to make the images themselves readonly, so that Picasa can’t update them. —Jeffrey

— comment by Shawn on February 15th, 2011 at 12:19am JST (3 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

Jeffrey, I have been a fan of yours for a while, but this plug in is just the best. You have no idea what it does for my collection … Thank you so much!!!

— comment by Shawn b on March 10th, 2011 at 3:31am JST (3 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

This is a great plugin, loving it. One feature request though. Can you add a checkbox in the settings to not remove “extra child keywords”. This would allow for us to use Lightroom to add face labels for images using the same face database. I realize that if you were to re-name photos in Picasa this could result in duplicate labels on images if you are not careful, however having the flexibility to label from within Lightroom I think would be worth it. Thanks!!

Oops, I meant to add this when you asked a month ago, sorry. I just pushed a version with this feature. —Jeffrey

— comment by Aaron L on March 23rd, 2011 at 9:21pm JST (3 years ago) comment permalink

One small feature request – would it be possible to add an option to append a suffix onto the new keywords? For example, if Picasa has someone listed as “Jeffrey Friedl” then the plugin would import the keyword “Jeffrey Friedl (Picasa)”. This would be a great workaround to prevent duplication of existing keywords, which is best avoided. It would also allow me to compare how my manual tagging efforts stack up against Picasa’s semi-automatic face recognition.

A truly small feature request is fairly rare… what seems small ends up spiraling into a big production when all lose ends are taken into account. This is very much such a case… I started to add this, then realized an edge condition that caused some troubles, and in dealing with that found myself in a full-blown rewrite of the plugin. After wasting too much time on it, common sense finally won over…. it’s just not worth that much effort for such a small thing in a plugin used by so few people. Sorry. Maybe some day. —Jeffrey

— comment by Thorf on March 25th, 2011 at 10:30am JST (3 years ago) comment permalink

Okay. When I typed the word “small”, I must admit I wondered if it might not be so simple. Thanks for trying!

Incidentally, I have worked out another workaround, which is simply to rename all the people in Picasa. It’s not exactly perfect, but it should at least solve my problem.

I’m interested that you mention not many people use this plugin. I wasn’t aware of that. I guess that facial recognition technology is still pretty new, but I’m surprised more people aren’t trying it out. Personally I’m finding it useful in my work as well as at home. I work as a teacher at a high school with 750 students, and I’m in charge of photography at the school. Being able to automate the process of tagging people is a big help. At home, I use it for family photos, but the real benefits are from tagging pictures of my wife’s dance studio, because there are way too many pictures to tag people manually.

There’s a lot of room for further development, but I’m already finding it to be quite a time saver.

— comment by Thorf on March 26th, 2011 at 8:34pm JST (3 years ago) comment permalink

I am seeing this message in some of the files
MetaData for this photo has been changed by both Lightroom and another application. Should Lightroom import settings from disk or overwrite disk settings sith those from catalog? Import Setting or Overwrite Settings

Should I overwrite with Lightroom? I just want to preseve my lightroom tags.

Thanks for the wonderful program

This is unrelated to the plugin. Lightroom is telling you that someone modified the master image on disk since Lightroom last read the metadata from it, and so it’s alerting you to this, and asking whether it should throw away the data in Lightroom and replace it with a fresh copy from the image on disk, or should it ignore whatever is in the image on disk and keep what’s currently in Lightroom. I suspect Picasa is updating the file with its own data, and that unless you want that data (whatever it is) to overwrite what’s in Lightroom, you want to ignore the changes on disk. —Jeffrey

— comment by Noel on May 4th, 2011 at 5:26am JST (2 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Hi, I just wanted to say a quick thank you and a sorry.

Thank you! Because this will make my summer quite a bit easier. (I have to put together a few slideshows at the summer camp I work at).

And sorry because I couldn’t donate more. I spend most all my savings to get a plane ticket to camp.. student salary is lame.

Anyway, I really REALLY appreciate that you give such a long trial period and allow us to donate whatever! That really is fantastic.

Thanks again,
Keep up the good work!

— comment by Nathan on June 17th, 2011 at 3:10pm JST (2 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I’m intrigued with the possibility of adding Face Recognition to my LR3 cataloged images, and I’m considering Jeffrey’s plug-in.

I had dismissed Picasa early on because the terms said (as I recall) I would give up all rights to images put into the Picasa system. However, that is so outrageous I would guess that has changed by now.

I’m also generally cautious about Google because of the difficulty of ever reaching anyone regarding support issues. I use Gmail extensively, and successfully for the most part. Its incompatibility between its method of keeping Contact info, and Apple’s Mobile Me and iPhone is my only problem at the moment (basically to avoid rampant duplication I had to disconnect the two, so now I have to enter contacts in both places).

So before jumping into this, I want to explore at least one other possibility; one that involves Apple (a company that is accessible and reliable, in my experience):

QUESTION: I’ve been thinking that there must be a way to use Aperture 3 for facial recognition by giving Aperture access to my LR3 image collection. My big concern is that I would need to know exactly how Aperture might alter the EXIF (or IPTC) keywords, and secondly that it wouldn’t mess with anything else.

If Jeffrey or anyone reading this has some thoughts on this, I’d be very grateful.

I live in a suburb of Philadelphia, PA (USA) and use SmugMug as my online image location. I’ve greatly enjoyed reading Jeffrey’s blog and other writings, and his fabulous pictures.



For my part, I don’t know anything about Aperture, but perhaps someone else does…. —Jeffrey

— comment by Skip Dechert on June 24th, 2011 at 2:30am JST (2 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

For most of my pictures I have RAW (NEF) files and the corresponding JPGs together.

I have set Picasa to only look for JPGs as if I choose both, it will always display two images (RAW and JPG) separately and also I would have to tag the faces twice, which is a lot of unnecessary work.

However, when I only have the JPGs tagged, Lightroom doesn’t import those keywords with your importer. It seems to only look for the name of the raw file in Picasa, and as it does’nt find anything (remember I tag only JPGs).

Do you think you could change the plugin so that it looks not only for the raw (NEF, CR2, DNG and so on) but also for the JPG and set the keyword if any of these files is tagged in Picasa?

I’m not on a system with Picasa so it’s a blind change, but I just pushed a new version that might actually handle this situation… give it a try and let me know. —Jeffrey

— comment by Uwe on August 13th, 2011 at 10:50pm JST (2 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink


I just found this plugin now, and I don’t know why I didn’t earlier. Wrote a script about a year ago, in Perl, that just moved data from Picasa files over into xmp-files.

Haven’t updated it, and have had some bug reports, but now I might not bother. Will have to check out your plugin instead.

If curious my script is on my blog

— comment by Greger on August 23rd, 2011 at 6:05am JST (2 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Is the IPTC Person shown in this photo metadata applicable? Would this be better than a keyword?


Keywords make for a much better experience within Lightroom because of the tools that Lightroom has for editing and searching keywords. The IPTC field (which I’d not heard of until you pointed it out) would perhaps be better when sharing images with third parties who expect fully-populated IPTC data, but my gut tells me that there will be little intersection between that and “folks who use face recognition on their snapshots”. In the end, I should probably have the plugin do both, but it would be difficult to keep the IPTC field up to date because the plugin is not informed when someone changes keywords themselves. Maybe in a future version of Lightroom… —Jeffrey

— comment by Dan on November 6th, 2011 at 10:14pm JST (2 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

very nice Tool. During my tests, I found, that picasa stores also the geo tags in the .picase.ini.
Wouldn´t it be a good idea, to get this data with the face tags into Lightroom?
Greetings, Matthias

That might be difficult because Lightroom doesn’t let a plugin update GPS data, nor let one plugin update the data for another (such as the faces plugin updating the data for my geoencoding plugin). I’ll have to give it some thought… —Jeffrey

— comment by Matthias on December 1st, 2011 at 5:50pm JST (2 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

The plugin looks great, I’m looking forward to trying it out. Regarding the tip about preventing Picasa from accidentally updating metadata on the image files themselves, how do you suggest handling this?

I’m on Windows, so I was thinking of running “attrib +r *.* /s” before running Picasa, and then “attrib -r *.* /s” afterward. It’s a little tedious, but better than risking metadata corruption.

I think you’re on a Mac, so are you doing a chmod? Do you do it every time you run Picasa?

I generally keep all my images readonly. I don’t know why you’d ever need your images to be writable, so perhaps just leaving them readonly will be sufficient. (I don’t use Picasa, so it’s not really an issue for me.) —Jeffrey

— comment by Rob on December 31st, 2011 at 12:50am JST (2 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,
is there a way to import other picasa tags via this plug-in,too? For example, I would like to use the picasa colour search to search for all blue pictures and tag this pictures in Picasa. I would then like to use your plugin to transfer this tags into the Lightroom Metadata…
Best regards, Jens.

Sorry, no, I don’t know how to do that. —Jeffrey

— comment by Jens on September 7th, 2012 at 8:35pm JST (1 year, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Jeffrey – thanks for this – it is exactly what I have been looking for!

— comment by Jen on January 5th, 2013 at 2:48pm JST (1 year, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

My message to you got erase apparently from your faq page. Maybe because I should not have try to post it there?

I installed your plug in and it is almost working. It imported only two names for one photo. No importing for the rest of my photos. I do really want to help donating. But how can I put it to work?

Thanks and regards, Roger

It’s been years since I looked at this plugin in detail… maybe something about Picasa changed? Do you see recent “.picasa.ini” files in each photo folder? —Jeffrey

— comment by Roger on January 15th, 2013 at 12:18pm JST (1 year, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Roger, how old are your face tags? I had similar problems and did some research and found twi issues:

Older face tags (I reckon tagged 2010 or earlier) seem to be in some way different from the current tags and do not work properly. The only solution I found was to delete the picasa.ini files for those folders and have the face tags regenerated. It’s not ideal as you have to repeat work already done before, but it works. I am not sure anymore whether the “reset face tags” option in Picasa also did the trick.

The other thing I noticed is that you must not switch on the Picasa option “Store face tags in image files” (not sure about the exact wording at the moment), because when you have this activated, Picasa won’t store new face assignements in the picasa.ini anymore – and these are where Jeffrey’s plugin is looking into. If you have this activated, you need to deactivate it and reset the face tags of all images that have been tagged while this feature was activated, have them retagged and the execute Jeffrey’s plugin.

@ Jeffrey, I think it would be a good idea to include into your instructions that this option needs to stay switched off.

— comment by Uwe on January 15th, 2013 at 7:04pm JST (1 year, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

Thanks for your comments and recommendations. Yes, I had selected the option “Store name tags in photo” thinking that it was needed to do so.

It makes me think twice to go all over the face tagging process again. By any chance do you know if this new option of “Store name tags in photo” from Picasa it may help to transfer it some other way to Lightroom?

Thanks and best regards,


I don’t know… I haven’t had Picasa running on my machine in years. —Jeffrey

— comment by Roger on January 16th, 2013 at 4:37am JST (1 year, 3 months ago) comment permalink


Thanks again anyway. Well I found this link with a solution. It is slower or takes more work and time bu it works.


Regards, Roger

— comment by Roger on January 16th, 2013 at 12:44pm JST (1 year, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Questions from sunny California –

1) Any plans to have a face-recognition import from iPhoto?
In the last few versions of iPhoto – some of the big improvements, imho, shared photo streams; and the ability to smoothly export a group of photos out of iphoto .

seems like it would be so-o great if there was a way to import the images and the face recog in LR.

2) Do you know of any way to import google drive into LR? (I use a script which dumps all gmail attachments into Google drive). Thanks spending your time reading my ramblings.

No iPhoto-related work on my horizon, sorry. For #2, your script running along with my folder-watch plugin just may do the trick. —Jeffrey

— comment by karla on July 4th, 2013 at 3:32am JST (9 months, 15 days ago) comment permalink

I started using this on LR3 .6 and Picasa 3.9… it seems fine so far. I made sure Picasa’s “Store face tags in image files” option was not turned on. Picasa’s face recognition interface seems a little buggy (it wasn’t like this in earlier versions) but it’s manageable.

I know that Jeffrey got fed up with this whole process but released the plugin anyway. Am I missing something? I really haven’t had problems yet!

I’m not sure I understand the problem with Picasa changing the metadata. My files are mostly .dng’s and .jpg’s. It doesn’t seem as though they’ve been modified since I installed Picasa (at least according to Windows Explorer!)

— comment by David on August 3rd, 2013 at 10:45pm JST (8 months, 15 days ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey

I am using your Folder Publisher to mirror my existing pictures collection(exported as JPG from RAW) into a separate location. I am thinking of pointing Picasa at the root of the JPG directory and get it to do the facial recognition.

Since the JPG directory is an exact mirror of my existing pictures collection, can I specify the location of the JPG in your Picasa Face Import and it will be able to automatically update the face tag into the correct picture in my picture collection.

In this way, even if Picasa changes the JPG file, my original picture files are not modified in any way. Do you think this is a good idea?


It’s a fine idea if it would work, but it won’t because there’s no way to get the face data back to the original raw file. If you’re on Windows, you might check out http://www.insitegazing.com; I hear they have a facial-recognition plugin. It’s Windows only so I’ve not tried it. —Jeffrey

— comment by Tony on September 9th, 2013 at 10:06pm JST (7 months, 9 days ago) comment permalink

I am using several of your plugins and had downloaded this one a while back but hadn’t tried it until yesterday. This is just awesome! It works exactly the way you describe it and I would like it to work. Great work!

— comment by Sigrun on September 12th, 2013 at 7:42pm JST (7 months, 6 days ago) comment permalink

Can this plugin import standard Picasa Keywords as well as Picasa face tags? It sounds like there in the same file as the rest of the information.

[2011-11-24-131507 - 017.CR2]

If possible could you add a check box to import these keywords and nestle them them in a “Picasa Keywords” hierarchy thingy like you did with the faces?

I appreciate any help you could throw my way if the keywords should be imported also. I checked both check boxes in your plugin, I don’t mind the redundant tags as i can clean them up easily. Perhaps that was a Mistake?

A more ambitious “import data from Picasa” tool would be nice for the folks that would use it, but from my point of view I don’t think enough folks would use it to make it worth the development effort. —Jeffrey

— comment by Robert on September 16th, 2013 at 5:55pm JST (7 months, 2 days ago) comment permalink


And thanks for a great plugin but now I have a issue with it and don’t know why this is happening. I have tagged all of my photos in Picasa now and Lightroom imports tagged faces nicely but with the exception that it only imports faces for photos taken this year and then nothing for older photos. I have the photos in their yearly folders and I don’t have any clue why this might be happening as the deubg log doesn’t tell me anything and I don’t see anything being wrong or different for the folders 2012 and earlier. Could you please help?

That’s really weird… I have no idea why that might be happening. Could you try to import the data from one older image that doesn’t work, and then again for a new one that does, and then send the log? —Jeffrey

— comment by Miska Närhi on September 23rd, 2013 at 1:33pm JST (6 months, 25 days ago) comment permalink

Jeffrey- Thanks for your excellent work on Picasa faces. I was using it with LR3 without problems, but I upgraded t0 LR5 and loaded your 20130613.43 update which is giving me problems where LR tags each photo with a “metadata conflict.” When you click the conflict tag, LR asks you to “Import Settings from Disk” or “Overwrite Settings.” Choosing either one fails to import Picasa name data, and choosing the latter erases metadata that was already associated with the image. The conflict tags are only being placed on images that were updated with new names in Picasa, so it looks like your plugin is trying to import data for the correct images, but the face names are not getting into LR for those images. Also, I noticed that old face data I imported with the prior LR3 version for older images continues to have faces correctly shown in the metadata – no problem there.

Just wondering if you could shed some light on this issue.

Best regards from Virginia,
Unfortunately, I don’t think I can shed much light on this. It’s a mystery to me when and why the “metadata has changed” badge shows up. (In my personal master catalog of 130,000 images, it started showing up yesterday on every image. I have no idea why.) —Jeffrey

— comment by Eric on October 3rd, 2013 at 9:24pm JST (6 months, 15 days ago) comment permalink
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