You know them: annoying Mac users who are always going on about Apple’s supposed “usability,” its “elegant design,” and all its “great applications.” Well now you can scratch one item off your Mac-using friends’ brag list. Google’s Picasa 2 is more elegant and usable than Apple iPhoto, it has more photo-managing and editing features, and it’s faster. It’s also available only for Windows — so put that in your bongs and smoke it, Mac hippies!

After you install Picasa, it scours your hard drive (including any, ahem, hidden folders) for still images and movies. In addition to most common file formats, it supports RAW files taken by Canon, Nikon, and other cameras. It’s amazingly fast: It took less than four minutes to index 1,973 pictures and videos on our test system. When it’s done, you have an easily browsable, well-organized, and self-updating gallery of pictures and movies.

Picasa offers 11 simple tools for repairing or enhancing photos with crops, color fixes, red-eye removal, straightening, or special effects. Also, an “I’m Feeling Lucky” button enhances photos automatically. Every edit happens almost instantaneously, and you can undo anything; the underlying files are not modified in any way, so you can always go back to the originals.

Picasa includes tools for sharing photos online, ordering prints, creating interactive gift CDs, and backing up. In all, Picasa is amazingly complete, fast, and usable. And best of all, it costs nothing. That should shut up your iPhoto-using Mac friends for at least five minutes. -Dylan Tweney

Best Feature: Fast, easy, reversible photo enhancements
Worst Feature: Instantly unearths any porn hidden on your system

Google Picasa 2
Price: Free
Requirements: Windows 98 and higher, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 and higher

* * * * *

Link: Google Picasa 2

Link broken? Try the Wayback Machine.