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Popular photo-sharing sites offer free or low-cost options

Sep. 8, 2011 - 01:36PM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 8, 2011 - 01:36PM  |  
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Still jamming up far-flung friends' and family's inboxes with your photos? They don't want to hurt your feelings, but they really wish you would stop. Fortunately, you can share your photos in ways that won't make people curse you.

Photo-sharing sites let you upload all of your pictures, then notify friends and relatives. Unlike sharing your pictures on Facebook, you don't need to worry about who sees them. You send email invitations for access, and the people you invite go to the photo-sharing site to see the shots. No more clogged inboxes.

Best of all, these sites are free or low-cost. Some of our favorites:

Flickr">Flickr is one of the most popular photo-sharing sites. Think of it as a social networking site for photo enthusiasts. You can connect with other members and join groups. You'll also find discussion boards. With a free membership, you can upload 300 megabytes per month. Each photo can be up to 15 MB. Your file size will vary with quality and resolution. An 8-megapixel camera creates 4 MB photos, roughly. You can also upload two videos per month up to 90 seconds and 150 MB. You can view your 200 most recent photos. While you'll only be able to see smaller images, high-resolution images are saved in case you upgrade.

Paid accounts ($25 annually) get unlimited uploads. Photos can be up to 20 MB. You can upload video files up to 90 seconds and 500 MB, and there's no limit to the number of photos you can see.

Flickr also lets you geotag photos, and it has editing tools. Privacy controls let you limit who can access your photos, which can be uploaded from your desktop, the Web, email and phone.

Snapfish">Snapfish gives you unlimited storage, but that requires "active participation," which is defined as at least one photo purchase per year. Otherwise, your photos could be deleted. Snapfish doesn't specify a limit on file sizes. However, your upload speed may affect the resolution of images. All photos must be in the JPEG file format. Snapfish says it may resize images larger than 9 MB. Videos may be in a number of popular formats, including MOV, MPEG, AVI and WMP. You can also upload mobile phone videos in the 3GP format. You can edit photos directly on the site. You can also invite people to view and print your photos and videos. They can be uploaded via the Web, software on your computer, email and phone.

Shutterfly">Shutterfly seems to have the fewest restrictions. You can create a customized site with free, unlimited storage. Like Snapfish, it doesn't specify a file-size limit. Shutterfly offers prints, photo books and more, but it doesn't require purchases. It says it has never deleted a photo. There are relatively few tools for working with photos, but you can add borders and other enhancements. You can invite others to view your photos. Upload your photos via the Internet.

Kodak Gallery

This popular">site gives you unlimited storage contingent upon store purchases. If you use 2 gigabytes or less of storage space, you must make a $5 purchase within 90 days. You must also make one each 12 months thereafter. If you use more storage, you must make a $20 purchase within 90 days. Again, you must also make a purchase every 12 months. Files must be less than 25 MB. You can upload photos directly on the site or from your desktop. There is also an iPhoto plug-in for Mac users. Photo-editing tools are available. You can invite friends and family to view your photos.


Google's">Picasa is almost exclusively a photo-storage and sharing site. You can have prints of your photos made, but not with Picasa. Your images are sent to a secondary provider for printing. Google only offers 1 GB of free storage. If you'd like more, purchase one of Picasa's tiered upgrades, billed annually. They begin at 20 GB for $5 and go up to 1 terabyte for $256. Picasa also has a built-in Web-based photo editor called Picnik. With Picnik, you can edit the photos or add pieces of clip art. You can add borders or seasonal graphics, airbrush and even add makeup.


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