I am considering using Picasa Web Albums as the main storage point for all my pictures and videos.

Strangely, Google has officially stated that It's not possible to download videos from Picasa Web Albums at this time. This is very frustrating since it essentially means that it is not future-proof to use Picasa as the single storage place for videos.

It also seems contrary to the stated purpose of Google's own Data Liberation Front. Thus, there seems to be a slim hope that downloading videos might be made possible in the future. Unless there is a specific reason for this unfriendly policy.

What is the reason for the policy? Is it just technically difficult, or is there some business reason for actively disabling it?

If I understood this better, I could better judge the likelyhood of this feature beeing supported in the future.

(I realize that there are some workarounds for downloading videos but they are cumbersome, they do not seem to support HD, and they are impractical to use on a large number of videos)

  • I guess The same reason YouTube doesn't allow downloading..
    – Bibhas
    Feb 8, 2012 at 16:35
  • Possibly, but why is that then, copyright issues? I am talking about downloading the videos that I myself uploaded, so there is no copyright conflict. Another interesting aspect is that the metadata for videos in Picasa states the size and type of the video original, which possibly indicates that they store the original. Feb 9, 2012 at 9:47

5 Answers 5


Now that Google seems to be leaning towards "Google Photos" or whatever they're going to call it, you can download your Picasa Web videos.

Here's how:

  • Go to the Google+ version of your site ( http://www.google.com/+ ).
  • On the left hand side, click on the "Photos" icon.
  • Find and click on the album with the video you want to download.
  • Find and click on the video you want to download.
  • At the bottom, in the black part, will be the word "Options"; click on it.
  • Download your video.
  • They appear to have moved the Download option from "Options" to up under "More" at the top.
    – Von
    Dec 7, 2013 at 15:56

Google Takeout

I understand your frustration, especially since everyone is telling you Picasa's only purpose is for sharing. Although it has a huge emphases on that, it is only the primary location for storing ones personal photos with Google's service.

You were very close in your searches when you talked about Google's Data Liberation. There is in fact a place for you to download your entire Picasa account. That is Google Takeout. For the sake of verifying, I downloaded my complete Picasa account and found that it does in fact include all your videos. One limitation is that you're not free to select which videos or albums for that matter. You are forced to do a complete download of your Picasa account.

  • 1
    What was the resolution of the videos that you got with Google Takeout? Mar 9, 2012 at 7:48
  • 1
    I use my phone which films at 1080p and all my videos get uploaded to Picasa automatically. I compared both that from my phone and that from the Google Takeout and they are the same file size (and name) and have the same video and audio bitrates, width/height etc so looks like the original to me
    – Jesse
    Mar 9, 2012 at 8:22

I'm going to explain it as simply as I can. Picasa Web Album or Youtube, both are Photo/Video Sharing Service, where the main motive is the distribution of content among viewers, which can be done without the option to download. Providing the feature to download a content always has a copyright issue as they'll be giving you the complete control over that amount of data. So the option to download the content is avoided in these kind of sharing services. You'll notice that even the option to download the images are unavailable at Picasa.

And for the point of downloading your own data, remember that Picasa/Youtube are NOT online backup services. The only point of their service is sharing content. Not backing them up for future use. While we might use them for the backup purpose, but that is completely our point of view of the service. If you want to backup your data, use online backup services like Dropbox etc. But Picasa/Youtube were built to share content. So there is no point of the option to download.

Again, it's not about whether they can provide the option or not. They can easily provide the feature to download if they want to. But then the whole motive of the product is lost.

  • 2
    Sharing is certainly an important aspect of Picasa, but I disagree that it is the only important function of this web service. Obviously many are using it as a backup, as for instance recommended by lifehacker (lifehacker.com/281635/back-up-your-google-apps-data) If backup is of no importance, why then are people allowed to download their photos? (Which they are, using the Picasa software) Why are you allowed to have only private photos? And why is there no copyright problems with photos? Feb 25, 2012 at 11:25
  • The rumors around GDrive are also indicating that online storage of photos and videos is on Google’s mind (searchenginewatch.com/article/2151756/…) Feb 25, 2012 at 11:26
  • 1
    Also, I would advice you not to be so condescending - “I’m going to explain it as simply as I can”. Not a good way to persuade someone Feb 25, 2012 at 11:26

I think Picasa Web Albums is supposed to be equivalent to YouTube. It is primarily a sharing service for videos.

If you want to store videos and download them later, try using Google Docs.

  • Thanks, but Google Docs seems like an awkward place to store media that I want to share. Home videos are naturally sorted together with photos taken at the same occasion. Anyway, my main interest is not getting advice on alternatives to Picasa, I am interested in the reasoning behind not allowing downloads. And why does not YouTube allow downloading then? I would allow it if it was possible. Feb 9, 2012 at 9:52
  • I assume they don't want it to become a file distribution platform, like Google Docs or other share folders on the web.
    – Joel H
    Feb 28, 2012 at 1:13
  • have you tried Dropbox? Mar 6, 2012 at 15:53
  • I have tried Dropbox (it is what I am using now). However, Dropbox is quite expensive, while, if you can live within the free storage limits set by Picasa, 2048x2048 photos and HD video less than 15 minutes, Picasa is completely free and "unlimited". (support.google.com/picasa/bin/…). If I can just be sure that I will be able to retrieve my videos if I want, it is the perfect storage place. Mar 9, 2012 at 8:57

You can download individual videos using the GoogleCL command line tool, with a command such as this one:

google picasa get "album_name" --photo "filename_of_movie"

Both the album name and the movie filename are treated as regular expressions, meaning that (within some limits) you can use a fragment of the full name, as long as it's unique. By using a common prefix/suffix you can batch-download multiple videos this way. E.g.

google picasa get "album_name" --photo "MP4"

The only caveat to this approach is that the videos won't necessarily be in the same quality as the original. My HD uploads get downloaded in this way at around one third of the orignal's file size... (the resolution is the same, they only seem more compressed).

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