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How do I use photo-sharing websites?

Digital camera and laptop

You have family overseas and they want to see some recent photos of your kids. Yes, you can email them over, but they might have limitations on the size of images their internet provider will let them accept. So how do you do it?

Guy Clapperton | 9th September 2010

There are many ways of putting pictures on the internet. You could pay an internet provider to give you some disk space, set up a file transfer protocol (ftp) system and drag and drop the images. The thing is, it won’t be easy for other people to pick them up. You’d have to tell them about ftp programs, give them the right internet address and the right password, and… you get the idea, it’s fiddly.

Picture-sharing sites

But there is a simple way of doing it – use a picture-sharing site. It will allow your friends and relatives (and others) to view your photos. There are two excellent picture-sharing sites on the internet, but first a word of caution.

Are you certain you own the rights to the pictures you’re sharing? If you took them then fine, it’s beyond question. If you’ve downloaded them somewhere then you need to be 100% sure that the person sharing them in the first place had the right to do so, otherwise you could find yourself in the middle of a copyright lawsuit.

The two big picture-sharing sites are and


Picasa is owned by Google. Go to the website and download the software – it’s on the front page of the site and it’s completely harmless. Picasa will then search your computer for pictures and ask whether you want to upload them and put them either into a public or unlisted album.

People will be able to see the public albums when they look through the Picasa site, but they’ll need to know the web address to find the unlisted ones (which in practice means you’ll have to send it to them). Your friends and family can use a Google account to log on to the site and find your pictures.


Flickr (along with Photobucket and other competitors) is a little different in that they don’t install anything on your computer. Log on to the site, go through the process of putting your profile together, and start uploading your photos by locating them on your computer and selecting. Then the site will upload them.

You may choose which level of rights you want. ‘Creative Commons’ is useful in that others can download a picture for their website and use it, as long as they give you a credit. This might be good if you’re specialising in, say, landscapes. Clearly, you might want to make sure that family photos have a password and that they are only able to be copied by people you know.

Guy Clapperton

Guy Clapperton

Guy Clapperton is a journalist specialising in writing about technology as well as small business for several major broadsheets. He broadcasts occasionally on BBC Radio stations and reviews the newspapers on the BBC News Channel.