If you’re a fan of Google’s Picasa picture management program and the iPhone, you’ve likely already discovered the unfortunate state of affairs: with the default settings Picasa can’t import pictures from iOS devices. Read on as we show you how to tweak your workflow and get things importing smoothly.

What’s the Problem?

If you plug your iOS device into your Windows computer and mount it like a regular removable drive (just like you would with a camera SD card or an Android phone) and then attempt to import your photos and movies from your iPhone, you’ll get the following error.

A generic “Error” with a generic error message text. Really helps narrow things down, doesn’t it? That’s bad for frustrated users everywhere but great for people like us who keep the lights turned on by fixing the technology frustrations of the world.

The reason the error appears, though you couldn’t tell it by the generic error you get, is two fold.

First, because Picasa is not configured by default to import certain file types and exclude other types. It doesn’t handle running into excluded file types very gracefully, however, and it spits out this generic error when you attempt to import media off a device that contains them.

In the case of iOS the conflict occurs when you have screenshots of your iOS device (which are captured and stored in PNG format) or movie files (which are MOV format). Picasa hangs on both of those file types and will attempt to import all the image files on the device (and will appear to be successfully importing your JPEG images) only to hang and error out at the very end.

Second (and this only applies to users running iOS 8.3 or above) the introduction of the iCloud Photo Library system did some unusual things to the file permissions when iOS devices are mounted like removable storage. Let’s take a look at how to fix things.

How Do I Fix It?

Fortunately it’s pretty easy (once you know what the heck that generic error means) to fix the problem. There are just a few steps to resolving your problem and getting your Picasa import workflow, well, flowing. Let’s take a look at what your need to tweak.

Disable iCloud Photo Library

If you’re really in love with iCloud Photo Library, we’re sorry. As long as it’s enabled you’re going to run into continual import errors while using Picasa (and presumably other third party image managers too).

The introduction of iCloud Photo Library in iOS 8.3 did some odd things with the file permissions of media files on iOS devices and as long as you have it turned on you won’t be able to import into Picasa.

To turn it off navigate, on your iOS device, to Settings -> iCloud -> Photos and turn off “iCloud Photo Library”. If you need help or want a more detailed look at the problem, check out our article on the topic here.

Install QuickTime

Everybody buckle up, we’re about to party like it’s 1993 and we just got our hands on a burning hot copy of Myst. The second step in fixing our import problem is to install QuickTime on your Windows PC. Even if you have no intention of using QuickTime (and we didn’t) you still need to have it installed or else Picasa will not formally recognize MOV files. It seems like a silly restriction but it does make sense, in a circular sort of way: Picasa won’t import files it cannot display and it cannot display MOV files without the QuickTime engine installed.

Install QuickTime and then, if you have Picasa open, close and restart Picasa in order for the application to see the system change. After opening Picasa again, navigate to Tools -> Options.

Within the Option menu selection the “File Types” tab in the upper navigation bar.

In the list “Display JPEG files and:” make sure that “.PNG” and “Quicktime Movies (.MOV)” are checked off. Click OK and then restart Picasa.

Importing Your Files

Now that we’ve finally tamed the tangled beast that is iOS to Picasa import we can get down the business of importing all our media files.

Plug in your iOS device via its USB tether cable, click on “Import”, select your device, and enjoy a smooth workflow that captures all the JPEG photos you’ve taken, PNG screenshots, and MOV movies files without a hiccup.

One last tip before we leave the topic of importing to Picasa (and this tip applies to imports from iOS devices as well as other removable media like SD cards). If you use the “Exclude Duplicates” function so that Picasa won’t import photos and videos that it has already imported: make sure to wait until Picasa has finished scanning the device and precaching the media files before clicking “Import All”. Failure to do so will result in Picasa importing the duplicates of the files it hasn’t yet had a chance to scan and identity.

Have a pressing tech question about wrangling your media? Shoot us an email at ask@howtogeek.com and we’ll do our best to help.

Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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