Schwup: Easy Private Sharing of Digital Photos

One of life's biggest hassles is not limited to the PC: It's the challenge of how best to share everyone's photos and videos after a vacation, wedding, party, or other group event.

There are countless services that can aggregate and organize all this stuff, but I've yet to find one I like as much as the unfortunately named Shwup. Here's a video on how it works:

All you do is sign up for an account, then import your media from your PC and/or Facebook, Flickr, iPhoto, and Picasa account(s). Shwup can also retrieve images from just about any URL.

Meanwhile, you can invite friends and family members by entering their addresses manually or tapping into your AOL, Facebook, Gmail, and/or Windows Live account(s). Shwup also can import address books exported from programs like Outlook.

What's nice is that your invitees can view your album, add their own photos and videos, and leave comments, all without signing up for the service themselves. In fact, adding photos is as easy as attaching them to the invitation reply. I know that'll be a big draw in my circle, as my friends and family positively hate having to sign up for yet another service.

The Details

As you might expect, albums can easily be shared using the usual methods: An e-mail link or direct posting to Facebook or Twitter. You also have several album-download options, starting with the free one: It provides you with lower-resolution photos optimized for 4x6-inch prints. (Shwup lacks any ties to photo-printing services, which is a bummer.)

For $3.95, you get the photos in their original resolutions. And $14.95 will buy you a DVD archive, a decidedly gift-able item.

I particularly like Shwup's Muvee integration, which can turn an album's worth of photos and video clips into a nifty music video--not unlike the Animoto service I mentioned a couple weeks ago. Pretty sweet.

Bottom Line: If you've yet to find a service that really encourages friends and family members to share their photos, give Shwup a try. Of course, if you've found something better, by all means tell me about it in the comments.

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