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Don't leave your digital photos sitting in folders on your hard drive as if they were Polaroids in a shoebox. Dust off your favorite photos and share them with friends, turn them into a slideshow, make a photo book, or become the star of your own comic book. These eight apps make all of that--and more--possible.
For access to all of these applications in one place, jump to the file collection for this article.
ArcSoft Print Creations
ArcSoft Print Creations offers plenty of options for digital photo projects. The software bundle comprises all of ArcSoft's latest printing apps, and the setup can be a bit confusing at first. That's because all of the individual modules show up in the 'ArcSoft Print Creations' folder in your start menu, and choosing the one you need can be difficult when you're simply looking at a list. But you can also reach all of the modules from the slickly designed Print Creations Launch Pad, which uses graphic icons that make your choice easier. Among the many options are greeting cards, photo albums and books, signs and posters, calendars, and brochures, and you can print them at home, share them via the Web, or send them to ArcSoft for printing.
Download: ArcSoft Print Creations
Prices start at $20
Create polished photo books, albums, calendars, cards, and more with this easy-to-use app from DigiLabs. It suggests layouts, organizes your photos, and guides you through the process of creating a refined product for displaying your photos. Prepare to spend some time fine-tuning the layout, though, especially if you're creating a lengthy photo album or book. The software itself is free to use, and you can use it to print simple projects at home. Printing anything beyond a few samples, however, entails buying a $40 software key. More-complex projects, such as hardcover books or calendars, must be printed by DigiLabs, which charges from $10 to $150 or more for the finished products, which are top-notch.
A free app that lets you create photo books, cards, and calendars, Picaboo has a very slick interface--and it backs up its good looks with some nifty functionality. The Book Genie feature, still in beta, automatically creates an editable book for you, by searching through photos by date. Alternatively, you can create a book on your own, and Picaboo gives you considerable control over the final layout. The software is free to use, but you have to pay for any printed projects. Prices range from less than $10 for simple products to more than $300 for detailed photo books.
Slideshows to Share
Digital photography newbies will feel right at home with Roxio PhotoShow. Available in a free Web-based version and in a $40 Premium version that offers offline access, this app lets you create polished slideshows with minimal effort. You upload photos and name your slideshow, and PhotoShow goes to work, suggesting a style and music for your show. Advanced photo enthusiasts may find its features a bit limiting, especially in the area of customization options. But if you're looking for a simple way to create slick slideshows to share online, look no further.
Download Roxio PhotoShow
Free Web-based version; $40 Premium version
PhotoStory on CD & DVD
Magix's PhotoStory on CD & DVD is designed to help you create slideshows to share online or--as its name implies--offline, by burning them to CD or DVD. If you can get past the drab gray interface with its much-too-small text, you'll find this app pretty easy to use. Simply select photos to include, add background music, and, voilà, your slideshow is created. PhotoStory also lets you edit and enhance the photos that you include.
Download PhotoStory on CD & DVD
The inexpensive DVD PixPlay isn't always appealing to look at, but it sure is easy to use. DVD PixPlay walks you through the slideshow creation process, enabling you to complete your projects quickly. It offers a fair amount of control over the look of your slideshow, too, without overwhelming you with choices. You can share finished slideshows via e-mail or burn them to a disc for offline viewing.
Download DVD PixPlay
Have Fun and Get Organized
Traditional photo albums and greeting cards are a nice way to share your digital photos. But if you want to have a little fun with your images, check out Comic Life. It allows you to create your very own comic--complete with panels, special fonts, and word balloons--from your photo collection. You can share the finished result online, print it at home, or send it to a professional printer.
Download Comic Life
Find the hidden gems in your photo collection with Fotobounce, a free (but ad-supported) app that helps you get organized. It's designed to recognize faces in your photos and to learn--over time--the identities behind those faces. In theory, that should allow you to tag photos much more quickly, though its facial recognition is far from perfect. Fotobounce also allows you to share photos via sites like Facebook and Flickr, or create a private peer-to-peer connection for sharing photos directly with another person.
This story, "Show Off and Share Your Digital Photos" was originally published by PCWorld.