Friday, August 1, 2014

 

Silently deploy Google Picasa with SCCM, disable check for updates and disable scan for images on first run.

Annoyed at how Picasa scans the computer for photo's during its first run in our Deep Frozen computer lab environments every time a student opened the program, I played around with a method to disable it. I hit upon this method using both active setup and copying files to the default user directory.
This method consists of three parts. First, setting up active setup to handle the registry entries, next copying configuration files to the default user profile, and third, silently deploying the application. This will of course only affect new users who login, which is fine as I am concerned here with eliminating the pop ups from Deep Frozen computers in our lab environment. With Deep Freeze, virtually every user who logs in is a "new" user every time.

Active Setup

First, create a file to hold the registry settings. After installing Picasa on a VM, I exported the [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Google\Picasa\Picasa2\Preferences] keys and removed the ones that I did not want to handle with Active Setup, that way excessive keys are not created when a user logs in and are only created when the user opens Picasa for the first time. I called my registry file HKCUPICASA.reg and it looks like:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
 
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Google\Picasa\Picasa2\Preferences]
"ShowTooltips"=dword:00000000
"AutoUpgradeCheck"=dword:00000000
"AutoUpgradeAsk"=dword:00000000
"showfeatureslink"=dword:00000027
"ReportStats"=dword:00000000
"ConfiguredSlingshot"=dword:00000006
"LastABPromo"="29 Jul 2025 11:20:57 -0700"

For reference the registry keys do this:
Unchecks "Show Tooltips" in User interface = "ShowTooltips"=dword:00000000
Turns off Auto Upgrade Check = "AutoUpgradeCheck"=dword:00000000
Turns off upgrade prompt = "AutoUpgradeAsk"=dword:00000000
Disable webpage opening on first run = "showfeatureslink"=dword:00000027
Unchecks "Send anonymous usage stats to Google" = "ReportStats"=dword:00000000
Helps remove Photo Viewer Configuration popup = "ConfiguredSlingshot"=dword:00000006
Effectively removes the AutoBackup prompt = "LastABPromo"="29 Jul 2025 11:20:57 -0700"

With the last registry key I set the LastABPromo date, the date Google last bugged you about signing up for their backup service, to a distant year in the future. This will keep it from popping up until a week or so after July 29th 2025. I hope we are not using the same version of Picasa then. You can adjust it to whatever works for you.
Remove or add other keys if you want to customize more, you can experiment with which ones handle different settings.

Configuration Files in Default

Once Picasa is run for the first time it creates a folder called Picasa2 in the users profile in AppData\Local\Google.
























This folder contains:





















We are interested in the db3 folder. As it contains the files that remove the "Picasa is ready to search
for pictures on your computer" first run prompt, and also along with the "ConfiguredSlingshot"=dword:00000006 registry setting, removes the "Photo Viewer Configuration" first run prompt. Both the registry setting and the proper files in the user profile have to be in place. To get the db3 folder, I installed Picasa on a VM, ran Picasa, and selected "Only search My Documents, My Pictures, and the Desktop"




























and then selected  "Don't use Picasa Photo Viewer" at the next prompt. If you want to use it instead of whatever your regular photo viewer is go ahead and select the file types you want it to open, you may also have to keep extra registry settings if you want to configure the Photo Viewer. Play around with it.






























I then made a copy of the db3 folder and its contents to use during my installation.

Scripting it all together

 Create an installation script to install Picasa, setup Active Setup, and copy the file to the Default user folder, I use the following:



REM Installs Picasa and removes all first run prompts.
@echo off 
cls
:Path 
set loc=%~dp0
:Install
"%loc%picasa39-setup.exe" /S /L /L2
:ActiveSetup
REM Copy reg file to run on user logon.
XCOPY "%loc%HKCUPICASA.reg" "%ProgramFiles(x86)%\Google\Picasa3\" /Y
REM Insert ActiveSetup into Registry
REG ADD "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\HSU-Picasa3" /v "StubPath" /t REG_SZ /d "CMD /C REG IMPORT \"%%ProgramFiles(x86)%%\Google\Picasa3\HKCUPICASA.reg\"" /f
REG ADD "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\HSU-Picasa3" /v "Version" /t REG_SZ /d "2,0,0,0" /f
:DefaultUser
REM Copy Files Needed to Default Profile on C:\
XCOPY "%loc%db3" "%SystemDrive%\Users\Default\AppData\Local\Google\Picasa2\db3" /Y /I

Put all this in your source folder, create your Application in SCCM and call your script to install.











All new users who login to the computer will have all the Picasa first run prompts taken care of.

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