Using Picasa Slideshow in a Wordpress Sidebar Widget

So, we have a blog, and we'd like to put some pictures up. Not just boring pictures, but maybe a slide show!

And since that would be really groovy, we'd like the slide show to be visible in the sidebar, so it would be there always, not just stuck on a post, right?

So, lets see... WordPress has its Gallery function, but that doesn't seem to work in the Widget area of the slide show. Maybe it does, but not for me today!

So for now, we'll ignore the Gallery option. We want a Slide Show in the Sidebar.

Flickr and Picasa both are popular websites for posting pictures to, and they both have a built in Slideshow utility. They both work very much alike, you have pictures in a group or folder or album, and then the program helps you "embed" the slideshow into your website, using HTML code you can copy and paste.

The following is from a conversation I had today. We found that Flickr was almost perfect, except the slideshow doesn't start automatically. The person looking at the website had to actually hit play. That seems like a lot of extra work to me, so I recommended Picasa, because on their slideshow there is an option to Autoplay. Much better!

And so here we go-
(now keep in mind, I'm telling this to my friend, who I know has Gmail, and she has her own blog so she kind of knows how to do stuff, not like a complete newby... where in doubt, I'll try to explain stuff more, ok?)

You have a Gmail account, so you can use that to sign in to Picasa, and upload pics from there.

Now for those famous step by step...

You have a choice

1. you can download Picasa program to your computer (recommended)
2. you can upload pics to Picasa website through your account.

Picasa is in 2 flavors, so I should try to keep them straight. Picasa, the program, can be downloaded here

Picasa online is

They can work together. You download the program on your computer, and you can use it to do sorting, editing, and tagging of all your photos. Its up to version 3.8 as of January 2011, and its pretty good at what it does. Its not going to replace Photoshop, but its free. It can download your photos from your digital camera, and a lot of useful stuff.

And of note for us today, you can use Picasa on your computer to upload photos to PicasaWeb online.

Starting with Picasa on your computer:

The main screen when you open will show groups of photos, arranged by date the pics were taken. Picasa will scan your computer and find all the photos, and make an index for you. Kind of handy.

Picasa works in "albums", so if you have photos you'd like to get together, you can make your own album. Going to File, and choosing New Album will get you going. Make a useful name, like Cats, or Trip to Paris, or what ever. Or Sending Cats to Paris, even! You can also give it a date, so if its not Today's photos, you can say it happened in June 2009 or what ever. You could also say where it happened, and type a description.

If I forgot, Picasa is owned by Google. So one of the reasons they want to know where the pictures are taken, is if you chose to make your photos available to anyone on the web, and they searched for "pictures of cats in Paris" your pictures might show up.

Ok, so you've got an Album name, etc, and you hit OK. On the left side of the screen, under "Albums" is your new album, with 0 pictures. See it there? Its even sorted in the correct year. Slick! But still, its empty. We should put some pictures in there.

If your pictures are still on your camera, and you connect with your USB cable, Picasa can import the pictures for you. It might start automatically, if not, you can click on the Import button by the top left of the screen. First Picasa will import the photos to your computer, typically to the "My Pictures" folder, or something simiar, depending on if you have Windows XP, or Vista, or Windows 7. At any rate, there is a default folder for Photos, in your My Documents of your computer.

Once the photos are copied from your camera, they will end up in folders, arranged by Date, in the Picasa "timeline". If you notice, you can scroll up or down, by date, either from the big main part of the window, or in the right hand side. Once you've found your pictures, you can copy them into the folder you made earlier, by clicking them one at a time, or click the first one and then holding down the Shift key, and clicking the last one. You'll notice at the bottom of the page, as you click them, they will be added to the little "light tray" there. You could either just drag them to your folder on the left, or you can use the Lighttray feature, and by clicking on the little Blue icon, chose Add to Album, the name of the album you just made.

Couple of notes here. The pictures are still in the original FOLDER, and also in the ALBUM. Picasa is making a link to them, but they're not really saved in two places. So you don't have to worry about it using up all your hard drive space.

There is a lot more to tell about Picasa, and maybe I'll come back to that later. But now, we are trying to put pics up on our blog's sidebar, remember?

So, still in Picasa:
Right click on the Album heading (right on the Album Icon)
> Upload to Picasa Web Albums
It will ask you to sign in, use your Gmail info
(I'm sorry, did I mention you'd need a Gmail account? don't worry, they're free. You may be able to do it with out one, but you really should get one!)

Top of the window it lets you chose the album to upload to. You can create a new album, or put them in an existing album. Or even add them to a friends album.

Size to Upload - smaller is faster, and that's ok for the widget in the sidebar, but once people click on it, they can see the full size pics on Picasa, if you share the folder for public viewing.

So, I'd guess Medium (1024px) is a good choice.

Next, Choose your Visibility for that album
Share with: this gives you a chance to directly share it with certain people, but we'll be posting it on the website ourselves, so skip that.
If you put a LOT of pics up, you can buy extra storage, its not a bad price, but we're talking 10,000 pics, not just a few. That also can be shared with your Gmail account... ask me later if you're interested!

Then finally Upload!
A question pops up, making sure we want to post these publically. That's up to you!

Then we wait... ;) The upload manager comes up and shows progress. Not like the stupid Flickr one that crashed on me earlier...

From there, once they're all up loaded. There is a button for "Clear Completed" that is to basically empty the list once they're all done. Otherwise it might upload them again. You can also pause the upload if you'd like, etc. Once its all done,hit the Clear Completed button, and you're back to the Picasa program on your computer. Since our next step is to go online to the Web Album, look up at the top right side of the Picasa program... Web Albums. Slick! Click that...

on the Picasa website, after your pictures are uploaded, Choose your newly upload album. You'll see the name of the album at the top of the page, and all the photos are shown. Once there, on the right side, is a few options. One of the links is "Link to this Album". Click that and you could embed the album in your web page, or send a link by email. What we want is the next one, "Embed Slideshow", so click that.

The new window pops up, and you can choose the size of the slideshow, and some other options. If you want the slideshow to start playing automatically, chose "Autoplay". Once you make all your choices, click the Yellow box of code, and Copy (usually right click your mouse and chose copy)(or Control-C if you like that kind of thing!) Once you're done copying the code, hit the Done button and that window will get out of your way.

Now go log into your Wordpress blog, and once you're at the Dashboard, you go to the Appearance / Widgets window. In about the middle of the page is a tab called Text, "arbitrary text or HTML". Click and drag that tab to the right side of the page, where it says Primary Widget Area. Once its there, you can let go, and it will open its form. In the second part of that form is a big empty box. Paste the code from Picasa in there. You can optionally put a Title in the first part. Hit the blue Save button, and then go look at the blog, and your slideshow should be there.

Optionally, if you either don't want to load the Picasa program, or you're not on your own computer or what ever... You can go to the site. You'll still need to log into your account, then hit the Upload button toward the top, and choose a new album, or an existing album.

Give the album a name and optionally a description.

Next page gives you a place to upload up to 5 pictures. For more, its best to install Picasa program, but you could do 5 pictures at a time, then go back and do more.

Select your 5 pics, then hit the Upload button... then you wait... ;)

Once they are uploaded, you'll see them in the Album, and you can create your slideshow from there.

Assuming I didn't miss any steps, you should be able to follow these and get it to work. My friend managed to get it figured out with these!

By Carlin Comm posted on 2011-03-1