It's easy to be overwhelmed by a growing collection of unorganized digital photos. And, as camera resolutions improve, file sizes get bigger, and even emailing pictures to friends and family becomes nearly impossible. Each of today's picks take a slightly different approach to sharing and managing digital photos, but all of them offer services for free, and provide some content filtering for families.
Flickr is an online photo management and sharing site that uses tags, contacts, groups and geo-mapping to organize photos. As for separating G-rated photos from the rest, Flickr asks users to categorize their own photos into three content safety levels: safe, moderate or restricted. Users can also set their search preferences to SafeSearch. As with most communities, policing is a public duty, so photos that are incorrectly flagged are usually reported. The free version of Flickr limits the size of each photo to 5 MB, your monthly upload to 100MB, and only provides access to resized images.
With one-click posting to MySpace and Facebook (and a handful of blogging platforms), Photobucket is the darling of the social networking crowd. Calling themselves a "creative hub," each photo page displays a variety of HTML codes needed to post it elsewhere. Free accounts provide 1 GB of space for images and video clips, 25MG of monthly bandwidth, and a 1MB file size limit on uploaded photos. Photobucket has a no-pornography policy, but many will find Photobucket's standards are not as strict as their own.
Picasa is both a tool for organizing photos on your computer, and a website for sharing and publishing photo albums. To begin, download the free Windows application, and let Picasa automatically find all your local photos and movies. The online component, Picasa Web, has a ginormous 20MG limit per photo, but your total free online storage is limited to 1GB. Additional storage, up to 250GB, is available for purchase. Although inappropriate images can be flagged, there is no formal mechanism for filtering your Picasa search results.
Unlike other photo sharing sites that focus on organizing photos, Smilebox is a creative tool for creating personalized multimedia scrapbooks, e-greetings, slide shows and photo albums with music, words and themes. The wizardry requires a free Windows download. Sorry Mac users, you can view Smilebox designs, but can not create them at this time. Basic Smilebox designs are free, and display ads when shared with friends and family. Upgrades are available for individual designs, or by joining Club Smilebox. Since there is no public sharing of photos, nor an onsite search function, safety concerns are not applicable.
What is a Tabblo? "Tabblos are your photos and your words combined into your story." Merging photos and captions into a template of your choosing, Tabblo creates printable photo albums (no animation or music) that can be viewed online and shared with a circle of friends. Creating, sharing and storing tabloos are free, and printed photo albums can be purchased. Offensive content is policed by users, and the search function ignores many objectionable keywords.