On Monday, Google finally released a public beta of Picasa for the Mac. Picasa is a free desktop app for importing, editing, organizing and sharing digital images—particularly digital photos.

Picasa for Macs is a free download from Picasa.google.com/mac/. You need an Intel Mac running OS 10.4 or later.

Picasa has been a popular photo app on the Windows side for years. It shares some features with iPhoto, and adds some unique killer features. These include the ability to sync your Picasa desktop and Picasa Web Albums edits, screen captures, create and edit movies within Picasa, add text/watermarks to photos, manage folders on your computer, a collage creation, screensaver creation, and Facial-recognition technology. Privacy and sharing settings can be adjusted for individual photos, collections or for your entire library.

Preliminary tests show Picasa to be as fast or faster than iPhoto and easy and elegant to use. We’ll test further and review Picasa in detail in the future.

Google also offers Picasa Web Albums, which is an excellent web service for sharing and organizing photos. This has been Mac-compatible for years. There is an iPhoto plugin if you want to use Picasa Web Albums without necessarily using the desktop version of Picasa. Click here to download this.

Also, the new version of iPhoto ’09 looks amazing. News about Picasa for Mac has been swept under the rug with the announcement of iPhoto ’09.

Picasa Web Albums integrates tightly with Google’s Blogger service, along with many other blog platforms and web services. Picasa Web Albums is very easy to use, uploading is a breeze, and photos are nicely displayed online. Picasa Web Albums offers up to 1GB (“enough space for 4,000 wallpaper-size photos”) of photo hosting for free.

Flickr is still more popular and has deeper social network components then Picasa Web Albums. Again, we’ll do a detailed comparison in the near future.

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