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I take a lot of pictures with my digital camera at birthdays, family gatherings, and other events, so I'm always on the lookout for new ways to share the photos. As new programs hit the scene and older programs evolve over time, my favorites change because of various factors like ease of use, number of features, and of course, the king of all reasons: price.

One of the best ways I've found to share pictures with friends and family is to make them as accessible as possible by creating Web albums. With the right software, you can lay out your pictures any way you want, create a template to fit the theme, and write in your own captions. When you're done, simply send a link to your personalized Web album.

There are plenty of paid offerings to choose from in this category of software, but I've found several free programs that do the job nicely. The best Web album software provides ways to host your work on the Web so all you'll need is some creativity and your already honed photo-snapping skills.

Photozig Albums Express
The step-by-step process makes it easy to create simple albums. (Credit: CNET Networks)

Photozig Albums Express offers a step-by-step process so you can design your project from start to finish. Big button icons with descriptions make it easy to start your project and select the preferred output for your images including sending in e-mail, burning to a CD, or uploading to a Web site. The finished product is a basic layout of thumbnails that you can click to enlarge, but you'll have no skins to choose from with this one. The Photozig Web site requires you register with an e-mail address, but you'll be able to display your albums on the Web for free once you're signed up. For basic albums, this is the one to choose.

Web Photo Album
A clean-looking interface and several themes make album creation easy. (Credit: CNET Networks)

Web Photo Album is another simple free album creator offering several nice (if sometimes cheesy) templates. A nice interface layout makes it easy to find the pictures you want and quickly create a simple album. It offers basic editing functions like red-eye removal and picture rotation, and you can add captions to each picture. The finished product comes out as a page of thumbnails and once you click on a picture, you're given a close up with the ability to navigate to other shots across the top of the page. Though there are a staggering number of themes to choose from to match your pictures, your overall layout is unchangeable. Web Photo Album lets you sign up for the free Photo hosting service, or you can save to a folder to burn to CD or post to your own site.

With numerous skin and layout choices, JAlbum is tough to beat. (Credit: CNET Networks)

JAlbum for both PC and Mac users is one of my long-time favorite free Web album programs. It doesn't direct you through the process like Photozig, but a quick look through the menus will be enough for you to get started creating great Web albums. There are several great-looking templates and skins to choose from, with more skins available at the JAlbum Web site. An integrated FTP program makes it easy to post albums to your Web site or blog. The JAlbum site also lets you post your projects to their Web hosting service for free, but as with the others, you'll need to register with a name and e-mail address.

With spring weather returning here in the Northern hemisphere, you're going to have a lot of chances to snap some great pictures. Use one of these free Web album programs to turn your pictures into a nice project that's easy to share with anyone.

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.