I am getting rather disenchanted with iPhoto on my Mac. It has some very nice features (such as side by side comparison, brilliant for deciding which shot to keep out of a group of similar exposures) but, as I feed it with more and more photographs, it is becoming increasingly cumbersome. It has almost reached the point where the computer struggles to run the program if anything else is open.
Therefore I have downloaded Picasa, which might work as an alternative photo management tool. I am currently considering keeping iPhoto as my inbox but then using Picasa as a longer term tool to give a visual interface to the structured set of folders I use as a backup. Older images will get moved out of iPhoto, which should keep much snappier; as another backup, I already have all the stored images on Flickr (profusely tagged for easy reference).
What has impressed me most about Picasa so far though is the built-in face recognition. I was exploring this feature and worked out how to identify a few faces, linking them to people but then I looked at the people directory it had built and was staggered to find how accurately it had dealt with picking out a mass of other head shots from the same people. For someone like myself or Jane, of whom there are numerous images over a long period of time, it still managed almost total accuracy. Even with young children, it is astonishingly accurate as it tracks them from baby to a more identifiable set of features!
Presumably it must be getting some clues from the file names but it is still also working its magic on group shots where individual participants are not mentioned. There is some clever magic going on inside the box!