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Build better online albums

If you missed it, Google's free photo organizer, Picasa, received a minor but interesting update. We give you a tip on how you can use Picasa to build online photo albums for the holidays.

Believe it or not, we're beginning to wind down the year here at CNET. Before your eyes is the final Download Dispatch of 2009. We've had a pretty busy year, reporting on everything from new security apps (incidentally, check out our Security Starter Kit) to complete coverage of Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system. We even launched a Windows 7 blog.

But before we leave you to the merriment of the festive season, we wanted to give you a tip about organizing your holidays photos. If you missed it, Google's free photo-organizing app, Picasa, recently received a minor update to version 3.6. What is it? The capability to invite others to work on your online photo albums, which in turn means that your pals can invite you to help build their collections.

Backing up, if you have a Google account log-in, you can start using Picasa Web Albums, a free online repository for up to 1024MB in photos, from which you can easily share links to your favorite pictures with others (relax, you can always buy more storage). While you can manage and upload photos from your desktop folders, feeding the Web album from Picasa is far easier, as Picasa has the power to index every photo on your hard drive. Picasa adds a variety of tools too, including a decent photo-editing tool kit.

Now when you share an album in Picasa, you'll have the opportunity to let the people you share with contribute to your album. When you upload images from Picasa to the Web, you may likewise be granted permission to deposit your pictures in someone else's album. We're envisioning a half dozen uses here, including disparate branches of the family tree merging their holiday snaps into a single album from various locations across the country, and friends collaborating to tackle the daunting process of captioning kooky New Year's Eve pictures. We're sure you'll find more purposes, too, as you play around.

You'll find more details here on Picasa's new collaboration feature.

Wishing you a happy holiday season,

The Download Team