If you’re like most digital camera owners, your photos are copied over to a PC’s hard drive and forgotten about — save, maybe, for the odd one you print out, email to a relative, or create computer wallpaper with. But you can do much more with these memories. Resist dumping these once-in-a-lifetime shots into your computer’s “digital shoe box,” and consider these 10 options instead.
Digital photo frames
View your memories in a digital photo frame you can hang on the wall, or keep on an end-table or office desk. Unlike traditional photo frames, a digital one can cycle through your shots every few seconds, minutes or hours. Many play music and videos, too. Prices range from about $60 with the Memorex 7-Inch frame to $1,000 for Kodak’s stunning OLED, wireless frame.
Memorex 7-Inch frame
If you prefer a more traditional photo-album-like experience, a number of online services let you create your own custom photo book to flip through with friends. They also make for an ideal (and sentimental) gift. Simply upload your favorite shots to a service such as Shutterfly or HP, select a theme, material and captions, and within a few days your book will arrive. Prices start at around $30.
Shutterfly and HP Photo Books
Get creative with your photos with software that can add special effects, sometimes referred to as “filters.” For instance, you can turn a photo of your house into an impressionism painting with little dots. Or why not take a friend’s face and make a colorful Warhol-inspired two-by-two pop art poster. Even turning a color photo into a black & white or sepiatone photo can add character. Popular software packages include Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 7, and Corel’s Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Ultimate, both of which are $99.
Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 7 & Corel’s Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Ultimate
Create an online album
Liberate your photos by sharing them with your loved ones — regardless of where they live. So long as your friends and family have an Internet connection, they can view all of your memories the moment you upload them to an online album, such as those provided by Flickr, Facebook, Shutterfly, Snapfish, Photobucket, and others. Best of all, they’re completely free. In most cases, those who view your photos can order prints online, too.
Online Photo Albums
Pick your favorite photos and create a jigsaw puzzle to play on your PC. This is a breeze with free programs such as Tibo Software’s Jigsaw Puzzle Promo Creator and Kraisoft’s Jigsaw Puzzle Lite, which let you design your own one-of-a-kind digital diversions. Simply import photos from your hard drive (such as JPEG image files), choose how many pieces the puzzle should be, and whether the pieces should be rotated for added difficulty. Sometimes, you can email the puzzle to family and friends to try and solve. Fun for kids age 6 to 106.
Tibo & Kraizoft Jigsaw Puzzles
Proudly display your memories in a place you visit a few times a day: your fridge. You can do this effectively by purchasing magnetic sheets of paper from business stores to create your very own fridge magnets (roughly $20 for a 5-pack of 8 ½ x 11 sheets) or you can purchase special Post It! Picture Paper from 3M that has an adhesive backing to stick the glossy or matte print on your fridge (about $20 for 125 4 x 6 sheets). For both solutions, simply feed these special sheets into your inkjet photo printer and select the desired photo size.
Post It! Picture Paper
Not only can you enjoy your photos on your big-screen HDTV instead of a small computer monitor, but you can add music, professional-looking transition sequences, and special effects. Download software such as the free Windows Photo Story 3, a simple-to-use yet powerful tool that lets you import your desired photos, select which order they’re presented in, and choose the transition sequences between photos. Add a favorite MP3 track, or with the aid of a microphone, narration. Similarly, Windows DVD Maker is included with Windows Vista, which also lets you create a slideshow and then burn it to a disc to watch on a DVD player.
Windows Photo Story 3
Greeting cards, stationary, mugs & more
The Internet offers a handful of places to upload your photos, and create a personalized gift sent to your door, such as coffee mugs, t-shirts, mouse pads, stationary, aprons, playing cards, calendars, and so forth. After all, wouldn’t you rather give a loved one a personalized birthday card with a photo of the recipient (or gift giver) on it? Popular websites, such as Shutterfly and Snapfish have sections for such projects.
Shutterfly & Snapfish
The popular pastime known as scrapbooking is enjoying a bit of a renaissance these days – and for good reason. Your personal computer is the perfect hub to collect, organize and print out your memories. It can also help you flex your creative muscles by editing and enhancing your photos and other scanned keepsakes, such as a wedding ring or birth certificate, before creating the ultimate scrapbooking album. To get going, pick up a photo-quality printer or all-in-one multifunction machine for as low as $50, from the likes of HP, Canon, Epson, or Lexmark.
Pick up a printer from the likes of HP, Canon, Epson, and Lexmark
Wear your loved ones on your key ring. For as low as $12.99, you can carry an LCD screen with more than three dozen photos of your kids, grandkids, pets or spouse. The Insignia-branded LCD Digital Photo KeyChains feature a 1.8-inch color screen and ship in multiple colors.
Insignia-branded LCD Digital Photo KeyChains