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Focusing On Photo-Album Software

The first time I cropped a photo, I had to use an enlarger in a darkroom reeking of developing chemicals. (Pretend you just heard me say that in Grandpa Simpson's voice.) Compared to that, almost every photo-editing program that I've used seems breathtakingly simple.

I hadn't compared these applications in a while, though, so today's column and podcast (listen/subscribe/iTunes) cover five free programs for Windows--Adobe's Photoshop Album Starter Edition, Google's Picasa, HP's Photosmart Essential, Kodak's EasyShare and Preclick's Preclick Gold.

I opted not to cover payware candidates like Adobe Photoshop Elements or Microsoft's Digital Image. I also decided against writing about a few other free programs that I tried out: Corel's Snapfire got cut when I realized it didn't have any sort of built-in Web sharing, and Shutterfly's Shutterfly Studio just lost out for its slow performance under Windows Vista and the extreme non-obviousness of its e-mailing and printing options.

We had a great discussion over the last two days about these and other programs. Many of you suggested higher-end programs to use when the editing features in a Picasa or an EasyShare fall short. I think some of the applications suggested are a little too techie-oriented (seriously, have you taken a look at the GIMP lately?), but I can second two recommendations: Paint.Net is a good, free image editor in Windows, and Graphic Converter is a near-essential shareware item on the Mac.

Speaking of the Mac--I only briefly mentioned iPhoto in the story, but after trying out these other applications I think iPhoto remains the program to beat in terms of organizing and editing capability. It is, however, weak in terms of its online photo-sharing options, because it only supports Apple's $100/year .Mac service. To fix that and easily share your iPhoto pictures on another site, you'll need to use an add-on program for the task, such as Shutterfly's Export Assistant for iPhoto, Kodak's Ofoto Express or Picasa's iPhoto plug-in.

I'd write more, but doing this column has reminded me that I really, really need to finish sorting through last year's vacation photos... before, you know, this summer's vacation rolls around. Please continue discussing your preferences in photo-album software and sites in the comments.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  April 26, 2007; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Pictures  
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