Google’s Picasa photo management tool is a really fantastic free tool for consumer photo organization but it has a really annoying habit: it snaps a picture of your entire desktop every time you press the Print Screen button. Let’s take a look at the effective (but very unintuitive) way to fix that.

Why Do I Want To Do This?

There’s two good reasons for disabling Picasa’s odd screenshot taking habits. One is just plain practical and the other is a matter of privacy. First, let us emphasize this: for years Picasa has commandeered the Print Screen button and, even more irritating, there is not (and has never been despite complaints about it) a method of disabling the screen capture function in Picasa’s options menus or setting. As long as Picasa is open, the Print Screen button is hijacked by it.

If you use the Print Screen button for any purpose (such as snapping screenshots with a screenshot tool or even assigning it to some function on your computer) every time you press it Picasa will simultaneously take a picture of your desktop. Although your screenshot tool of choice should still function fine, it unnecessarily clutters up your hard drive with screenshots. So from a practical standpoint, if you use the Print Screen button a lot, you can save yourself GBs worth of storage by disabling the screenshot function in Picasa.

On a privacy oriented note, there is often stuff on your screen you don’t want saved. Personal documents that are open, web pages you are visiting, and so on. We happened to have an old hard drive on hand from a computer we used circa-2008 or so. Because we recalled we had Picasa on there (and this was before we were aware of the problem and how to fix it) we were able to dig into the old screenshots folder and see that Picasa had been snapping screenshots (as we used our regular screenshot tool) for a long time and had captured varying degrees of sensitive information in the process.

With all that in mind, there’s no good reason not to disable the screenshot function in Picasa. There are better screenshot tools out there and there’s no purpose to Picasa just snagging a shot of the whole screen whenever it wants.

Disabling Picasa’s Screenshot Function

As we noted above, not only is there no process to disable the screenshot function from within Picasa but the process to manually disabling it outside of the application is a bit unintuitive. To disable the printscreen function you have to revoke the ability of your user account to write to the folder that Picasa insists on writing the screenshots to.

We’ll be the very first to admit that it’s a rather kludgy/dirty hack but it works and we’ve been using it for years (because, as we mentioned, the Picasa team seems to have zero interest in adding a printscreen toggle to their feature set).

Before we get into how to do disable the printscreen function in Picasa, we want to highlight what won’t work. Despite the advice dispensed by some Picasa users in various forums, you cannot disable the printscreen function by merely removing the “Screen Captures” folder from Picasa via the Folder Manager as seen in the screenshot below.

If you do this it will not disable the screenshot taking process. All this accomplishes is the removal of that folder from the Picasa photo management system. The pictures will still pile up in the folder, you just won’t see them anymore when looking in Picasa (but browsing to your “My Pictures” folder will real they are still there and actively accumulating).

The only way to actually stop the process is to navigate to the location of the screen captures. Whether you’re on Windows 7 or Windows 10 the location is the same: Picasa parks all screen captures in /My Pictures/Picasa/Screen Captures/.

Navigate to that location, as seen in the screenshot above. The first step is to open the Screen Captures folder and purge all the images found therein. Again, for emphasis, delete all the screenshots first. Once we perform the next step it will be annoying to purge them so do it now.

The second step is to return to the Picasa folder and right click on the “Screen Captures” folder. Select “Properties” from the right-click context menu. Within the Properties menu, select the “Security” tab, as seen in the screenshot below.

Click the “Advanced” button. Within the Advanced Security Settings screen make sure you are on the “Permissions” tab.

At the bottom left side of the screen you’ll find a button labeled “Disable inheritance”. Click this button.

When a box pops up and asks you if you want to convert or remove the permissions, select “Remove all inherited permissions from this object.” The purpose of this maneuver is to strip away the permissions the operating system has assigned to the /Picasa/Screen Captures/ folder. Before making this selection the Picasa application had rights, granted by the operating system because the application was executed by the current user, to write into the self-created sub-directory within the user’s home directory.

After you click the remove option, you’ll be returned to the previous screen. You’ve done everything properly if the “Permission entries:” slot reads “No groups or users have permission to access this object. However, the owner of this object can assign permissions.”

At this point Picasa cannot access the folder and it simply gives up. No screenshots are captured because it has nowhere to put them. As we said, it’s a very clunky solution and one we shouldn’t have to undertake (I mean come on Picasa, this bug has been in the application for over six years now) but it works and once you take a minute to apply it you never have to think about it again.

Should you wish to resume using the feature in Picasa, all you have to do is return to the location of the “Screen Captures” folder, pull the same menus again, and where the “Disable inheritance” button was located there will be an “Enable inheritance” button that will reverse the process and apply the same permissions found on the parent folder to the sub-folder again.


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