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

This plugin imports face data from Google's Picasa Photo-management app. Picasa was discontinued by Google in 2016. This plugin remains available, but development has ceased.

This plugin works in Lightroom Classic, and older versions as far back as Lightroom 3 (though some features depend on the version 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

Prior versions of this plugin required that Picasa's “Store face tags in image files” option was disabled. As of plugin version 20141120.58 it no longer matters.

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 )


Updates for Lr10.


Updates for Lr9.


Update for Lr8.

Clicking on the version number in the Plugin Manager now copies version info to the clipboard


Oops, more Lr7 stuff.


Updates for Lightroom 7

Switch the log-sending mechanism to https.


Try to avoid yet another place where Lightroom gets hung because it can't handle certain kinds of dialogs at the same time.


In the POODLE-vunerability dialog, display a raw URL of a page on my site that discusses the issue, so that folks can be independently sure that the dialog is indeed from me and not malware.


Fixed crashes when reading some large Picasa databases.

Added a progress-bar indicator while reading the database, and allow the read to be canceled.


Completely redid the interface to Picasa's data. The plugin no longer cares about the ".ini" files, and instead just groks Picasa's (wildly cryptic and circa-1970s) database. This makes the plugin much more robust because modern versions of Picasa didn't always keep the INI files up to date.

20141119.57 Added some debug logging
20141019.56 Windows Only: Add a one-time check for the POODLE security vulnerability, and alert the user if it exists.
20140902.55 New build system
20140731.54 Registration fix for Lr5.6
20140720.53 More Creative-Cloud support.

Fixed an issue with Creative-Cloud revalidation.


Lr5.5 and later Creative-Cloud installs can now revalidate themselves if needed.

20140710.50 Sigh, had a bug in the Creative-Cloud support.

Now supports Lr5.5+ Creative-Cloud Installs.

20140704.48 Sigh, introduced an error for some folks with the rebuild the other day.
20140630.47 Build-system update

Added an "Expunge Plugin Data" section to the plugin manager, to allow plugin data to be cleared from the catalog.


Fixed a bug in the "smoother revalidation" stuff recently added.


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.

The 30 most-recent comments (out of 70; see all), most recent last...

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 (12 years, 7 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 (12 years, 6 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 (11 years, 9 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 (11 years, 6 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 (11 years, 5 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 (11 years, 5 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 (11 years, 5 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 (11 years, 5 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 (11 years 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 (10 years, 11 months 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; 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 (10 years, 9 months 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 (10 years, 9 months 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 (10 years, 9 months 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 (10 years, 9 months 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 (10 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink


I’m using LR5 on Mac OS 10.9.3 and tried your plugin.
Unfortunately I got the message that the plugin is for LR 3.3.

Did I mis something?

Best regards from the Netherlands,

I’m guessing that you’re using a very, very old version of the plugin. Try the latest. —Jeffrey

— comment by Chester M on June 27th, 2014 at 6:08pm JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

I used the version.
That’s the latest, right?

The latest is always the download shown in the upper-right of this page. —Jeffrey

— comment by Chester M on June 28th, 2014 at 11:00pm JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

I’ve just pushed version 20141120.58 of the plugin, which incorporates a very big change: it no longer looks at any INI files, but instead just reads the full Picasa database each time. It should be much, much more robust than before.

— comment by Jeffrey Friedl on November 20th, 2014 at 3:24pm JST (9 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Wow, it works! Thank you so much, Jeffrey. This is exactly what I was looking for. You made my day! 🙂

— comment by Stefan on November 28th, 2014 at 10:02pm JST (9 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey, we tagged some people with picasa ( The information confirms the tagging in Picasa. When import with picasa face data Lightroom says “Nothing needed to be updated” and the tag does not appear in the jpg file, IPTC kernel. Renaming, deleting of the catalog and new import does not help. (Using the latest version of your app). Thanks for help, Reinhard

— comment by Reini on January 26th, 2015 at 12:17am JST (9 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey, want t0 inform you, the plug is working now. The problem we solved was that the german language have letters like ä, ü, ö -. after removing that it seems to work perfectly.
Regards, Reinhard

— comment by Reini on January 26th, 2015 at 9:15pm JST (9 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink


Any chance this will support and import to the new Lightroom 6 Face Recognition features that just went live?

Writing from lovely California!

No, sorry, the hooks are not there yet. I’d recommend using the data you’ve imported to help guide how you apply Lightroom’s face recognition; but I think that’s the best we’ll get any time soon… —Jeffrey

— comment by Shad on April 22nd, 2015 at 9:40am JST (9 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

Jeff, thank you for the prompt response. I spent years tagging in Picasa, as I’m sure yourself and others have. I did not yet import using your plugin to Lightroom as there had been rumors that LR6 would have facial recognition. I’m now debating on if I want to go ahead and run your plugin to guide my LR6 facial tagging or start fresh in LR6. Hopefully Adobe doesn’t do a debacle around G+ and then suddenly make a requirement that to tag a face the user has to have an email address…

BTW, some of my family lives in Katsuragi-shi so I had a wonderful visit of Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Kobe, Fuji, Yokohama, and Tokyo a couple years back. I need to make it back to visit. Your biking photos are wonderful.



— comment by Shad on April 23rd, 2015 at 2:50am JST (9 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

I’m having the same problem as Reini had. Initially using the new plugin that reads from the database instead of the ini files gave me the message that nothing needed to be updated and it wiped all of the tags from the photos. I restored my Lightroom catalog to an earlier version, downgraded to the older plugin and reran the face import to get my tags back. I have since upgraded to LR6 and tried the new plugin again since the old one doesn’t work with LR6. This time, I got the same message that nothing needed to be updated. It didn’t add the new faces from Picasa but it at least left the old ones alone. Is there any way to reset the plugin/ metadata so that it runs without considering prior imports?


It looks at the current keywords associated with a photo, and compares that with the keywords it would add were it to start from scratch. If they’re the same, nothing needs to be added. So, the answer to your question is “delete all your keywords”, but that’s not really very satisfying. If you think the plugin is missing a face that it should be finding, please apply the plugin to just one or two photos with that face and then send the plugin log being sure to explicitly mention the full name of the face not applied to the full name of the file. —Jeffrey

— comment by Randy K on June 1st, 2015 at 5:47am JST (9 years ago) comment permalink

I decided to delete my Picasa database and rebuild it. Turned out to be pretty easy since I only use Picasa for facial recognition … all I had to do was rename the “unknown person” people albums that Picasa generated when it re-scanned my photo directories. Then the plugin worked perfectly. I’ll continue to use Picasa for faces since it’s much easier than LR6 and I have 50k photos I am organizing.


— comment by Randy K on June 2nd, 2015 at 6:19am JST (9 years ago) comment permalink

Thank you so much for this plugin! I have ~25k photos from many years and had invested a lot of time in identifying people in many of them. Weddings, family reunions, parties, etc. Much of that would have been lost in my transition to Lightroom. Thank you!

— comment by Chuck A on June 1st, 2016 at 12:49pm JST (8 years ago) comment permalink

This is great! Any plans to support the People module in CC? That is, import Picasa faces + rectangles as LR faces instead of keywords?

No, sorry, plugins can’t create face rectangles in Lightroom. —Jeffrey

— comment by Peter on December 10th, 2016 at 6:38am JST (7 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Any update for version 8?

Yes, it was released at the same time as Lr8 was. —Jeffrey
Oops, with that last reply I hadn’t noticed that I was responding about a plugin that’s been abandoned. Picasa hasn’t been around for a couple of years… is anyone actually still using this plugin? —Jeffrey

— comment by Thales on October 17th, 2018 at 4:40am JST (5 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

I haven’t since lightroom started doing such a good job at it in 5 or 5.5 I think.

— comment by Robert M Posey on October 17th, 2018 at 9:24am JST (5 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Hello Jeff
Yes I do use the plugin. I still use Picasa to identify faces.
It’s better then the one in LR.
Will you provide update for this plugin so I can continue using it?

I’ve updated the plugin for Lr8, but do consider Lightroom again. They completely changed the face-recognition engine circa Lr7, and so you might find it’s much more to your liking than when it was first released. —Jeffrey

— comment by Thalea on October 20th, 2018 at 4:25am JST (5 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink
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