The skinny: Photoshop is the software that has become a verb -- "Aunt Sherry's beard looks a little heavy. Oh, I'll just Photoshop it out." -- and for good reason. Adobe's venerable photo software has been around for a long time, and it gets the job done -- and well.
Photoshop Elements 5.0 gives you a place to stick that now-flattering photo of Aunt Sherry, and it also comes loaded with photo-editing tools, as you would expect from Adobe, as well as tons of creative ideas.
Professional photographers might find it a bit watered down, but for the average user -- who might be intimidated by the full-on version of Photoshop -- it's probably more than adequate.
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Perfect for: a) Mac users, and b) people who consider the word "geek" a compliment.
The skinny: Mac users are all-too-familiar with the gripe about limited software selections. When it comes to photo-organizing software, however, it's hard to imagine you'd need much more than Apple's iPhoto.
Part of the iLife software suite, iPhoto does everything imaginable -- and in typical dazzling Mac style. (Consider: full-screen photo editing, room for 250,000 photos, and a nifty little feature called "Photocasting.")
With the holidays approaching, the folks at Apple are also touting all the gift ideas iPhoto can handle.
Price: $79, for iLife software suite
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Perfect for: a) people who take "snapshots" rather than "photographs," and b) tightwads.
The skinny: There's a reason Google stock is trading at well over $460 per share. The folks there have figured out exactly what people want: free stuff. And unlike most free software you find online, Google's Picassa photo-organizing software is surprisingly handy.
Once downloaded and installed, Picassa searches your hard drive for photos you've squirreled away in far-flung folders, and it puts them in order. It then allows you to perform all the expected functions -- basic photo editing, caption-writing, even ordering prints from online photo finishers -- and a litany of other things.
Find it at: picasa.google.com
-- Mike Scott
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