Does Google Picasa store metadata in the picture files themselves? If so, what metadata is actually stored inside the files? (as opposed to Picasa's internal database)

  • I disagre with the selected answer, albeit it's an old answer. I have 3GB of .DB files from Google in this location: C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Local\Google\Picasa2\db3 - for about 50GB of photos. Agree though that SOME info is stored as metadata in the photo itself. But not all!
    – Shackrock
    Apr 12, 2012 at 23:50
  • 1
    If you're looking to manipulate metadata written by Picasa so that it is readable by other programs (e.g. transfer photos with captions to iPhoto or Aperture), the extremely useful exiftool can come in handy. I've written up a bit of a how-to here: rants.atmurray.net/2013/07/… Jul 21, 2013 at 12:01

5 Answers 5


Picasa writes tags and captions in the IPTC block (that is in the image file) if the file format supports it. http://picasa.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=15055

Since version 3 or so there is also a function to display an iptc tag as album.

(I used that myself and verified that it is actually using iptc via irfanview)

  • 3
    +1. Didn't know this was written to a standard. Hooray for any metadata that works across programs. Everything else that's locked in to a specific program is just wasted effort.
    – user4358
    Sep 3, 2009 at 15:40
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    @gero see my latest comment - only SOME data is stored as metadata with the photo. Most is stored locally in a large DB.
    – Shackrock
    Apr 12, 2012 at 23:51

I just tried this with Picasa 3.5.1, and the results were disturbing. In Picasa I changed the caption of a JPEG image from a Pentax K20D camera, then took a look at the file with a metadata utility to see what had been changed. Here is what I found:

  1. The caption was written to the IPTC Caption-Abstract.

  2. All maker note information was COMPLETELY DELETED! (So all information about camera-specific settings is lost.)

  3. The byte order of the EXIF was changed from big-endian to little-endian! (Which goes against the current MWG Recommendation.)

  4. The EXIF software tag was changed! (From "K20D Ver 1.00" to "Picasa 3.0".)

  5. An EXIF ImageUniqueID tag was added.

So beware if you use Picasa to edit metadata.

  • 2
    Yikes. My issues with picasa are mostly that it's rubbish for using from multiple computers
    – Auxonic
    Sep 25, 2009 at 19:20

The answers here that say that Picasa only stores metadata in its internal database and never in the image files are wrong.

Picasa stores some metadata in both its own internal database, and in the image files themselves. As others have pointed out, its handling of image metadata leaves much to be desired.

For example, Picasa 3.5 only supports IPTC metadata to the legacy IPTC-IIM standard. That standard was frozen in 1997. Picasa 3.5 does not yet support the preferred IPTC Core metadata standard, based on XMP. The IPTC Core standard was introduced in 2004. Five years on, and Picasa still hasn't caught up to the fact.


Picasa stores its Caption and tags in the IPTC metadata of the jpg, and the GPS location information in the EXIF metadata.

Try using Irfanview to look at the properties of any jpg that you have tagged and located.


No, Picasa stores all metadata information in a database. From the Google Picasa Help pages here:

If you notice oddities in the appearance and placement of your photos within Picasa, you may need to rebuild your Picasa database. For each photo, the Picasa database keeps record of the following information:

  • Location of the files
  • Unsaved edits made to them
  • Album organization
  • Previews of the images

and here:

Saving Edits: Saving photos

Picasa is designed to keep your original photos safe when you save your photo edits. This is done by creating a new JPEG file that's a copy of the original with your edits applied. The original photo is never altered, but depending on how you save the file, its location on your hard drive may change.

  • 2
    This is not true. See the selected answer.
    – donut
    Feb 10, 2010 at 9:22

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