PICTURE THIS

There are several web sites that let you edit photos online for free; you don’t have to install anything. Our three favorites are Pixlr, Picnik and Photobucket, all ending in dot com.

Pixlr.com

Pixlr is sort of amazing. You can use the basic version when you just want to crop a photo, remove red eye, improve the contrast, apply teeth whitening and so on. The advanced tools will turn your photo into a painting, make it look old-timey (“vintage,” they call it) and apply other special effects. This was the fastest online editor we tried.

Picnik has some nice effects. Put a frame around your picture, soften the edges, give it a sepia tone, and more. We found the effects when we clicked the “create” tab. Click the “text” tab to add a speech bubble or caption.

Photobucket has a number of special editing tools. There are separate tabs for basic editing, animations, layers, and posters, as well as things like “beautify,” “decorate,” “distort,” “geek” and “layers.”

— For editing photos off-line, we like to use Windows Live Photo Gallery, Google Picasa or some of the free programs at serif.com. Click “free downloads” at Serif for scrapbooking, panorama-making, print design and more.

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