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Tweak Picasa settings to keep photo-sharing private

Picasa_logo This week's Poked column answers a question from a reader who doesn't want everyone on his Google contact list to see photos he uploads to Picasa, Google's free photo editing and sharing service:

Q: I have been using Google's Picasa program to download my pictures for storage and sharing with friends. After I download pictures into the Picasa Album, I select people I want to share them with, but Picasa sends them to everyone on my e-mail list. This creates a problem for me as some of the pictures are not meant to be shared with everyone on my e-mail list.

I have asked Picasa's help section for an answer, but never received a reply.

-- Fred Hampton, Lauderhill

A: It's hard to give specific help without seeing your computer in front of me, but here's a guide to make sure your photos don't get shared with everyone in your contact list. First, make sure you have Picasa 3.6, the newest version. You can control Picasa photo album privacy settings through the software, and also through the website interface.

Upload a folder to your online account with the "Sync to Web" button on the far right of the screen. The sync can also can be turned on or off with the pull-down menu next to the Share button.

Before you start syncing your photos to your account, double-check your privacy settings. In the Picasa software, click on "Tools" in the top menu, and then click "Options." Go to the "Web Albums" tab. Select if you want the folder or album to be public, unlisted or unlisted and require a sign-in.

• "Public" means anyone in the world can see the photos.

• "Unlisted" means the world can see it, if they happen to know the special URL to find it.

• "Sign-in required to view" means it's only seen by people you specifically listed to share those photos with, and those people need to have a Google e-mail account.

Once you've shared a photo folder or album, log on to Picasa online to see who was sent invitations to see the album (picasaweb.google.com). Click to view an album, and on the right column it will show which people or groups got an e-mail notification to see it. Click "edit" to modify your contact groups. If a sign-in is required, you can change your mind by clicking the "X" near a group or individual to cancel access.

Here's a good way to keep things private: Take advantage of the "Starred Images Only'' share option. If you add photos to a folder, they won't be shared unless you take the time to mark it with a star inside the Picasa program. That way you won't accidentally share unwanted photos.

And remember, you can't set specific privacy settings per photo -- only for the entire album or folder.

As always, shoot us an e-mail if you have any vexing questions about social media or need advice.

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