Three times in the past week, people have posted photos to Picasa Web Albums after I've mentioned it to them, and in each case they've said nice things about it. So I figured it was time to repeat my plug for the service.
There are actually three separate pieces here:
- Picasa is Google's Windows-only photo-organizing software. It runs on your local computer, not on the web. It lets you organize and label and search among the photos that are on your own hard drive. It also lets you upload photos to Picasa Web Albums.
- Picasa Web Albums is Google's online photo-hosting service. You can post up to a gigabyte of photos there for free, and you can pay a small annual subscription fee to get extra storage space. You can organize photos into groupings called "albums." You can decide whether to make each of your albums publicly listed or not; for a non-publicly-listed album, you can still share it with friends by sending out the album's URL. You can change the order of photos in an album, relabel them, delete them, and/or move them from one album to another. Visitors to your album can post comments on the photos. Which is to say, it's much like various other photo-hosting services--except that I personally like the interface better than most such services. (I do also rather like SmugMug, where Kam posts her photos, but they don't have a free option.)
- If you have a Mac (and Mac OS X 10.4 or later), you can't use Picasa, but you can still use Picasa Web Albums, by downloading the free Picasa Web Albums Mac tools. That download includes two pieces of software: if you use iPhoto to organize your photos on your Mac, then you can use the Picasa Web Albums Exporter to seamlessly upload photos directly from iPhoto; if you don't use iPhoto, then you can use the Picasa Web Albums Uploader to upload photos from the Finder.
All of these items are free, fast to download (for the parts that are downloadable), and easy to use, with nicely designed and simple interfaces. If you have photos on your computer, you can have some of them online ten minutes from now, with a minimum of hassle.
I'm sorry to sound so much like an ad, and I realize that my promoting these products may be suspect, given that I work for the company that makes them. But I only promote the stuff that I honestly like and use. I don't love Picasa Web Albums as much as I love Google Maps, or Google web search, but I do like it a lot, and use it all the time, and highly recommend it to anyone who's looking for a quick easy free way to share photos with others.
I particularly recommend this approach if your other option is to share your photos via email. Photos are big, and sending out lots of copies of multiple photos to a bunch of people, some of whom may be stuck using dialup, is probably not the best use of bandwidth. Instead, upload your photos to the web, then send out the URL. Anyone who wants to do so can then download the photos they like.