The fastest way to send photos is to attach them to an e-mail.
What you need to know: Unless you want to annoy friends whose e-mail servers have filtering devices and size limits, only send four to six photos at once and resize them so they're not enormous. Jeff Keller, editor of the Digital Camera Resource Page (dcresource.com), a Web site that reviews digital cameras, recommends that you use the uploading software that comes with your camera (Mac's iPhoto, or Windows' My Pictures) to reduce the photos to 640 by 480 pixels. (Some cameras will even let you change the size of your photos while they're still on the camera.)
Words of warning: If your parents want prints, you'll either have to resend them individually at a higher resolution (try 1280 by 960 pixels) or make them yourself.
If e-mail is too old-school for you but you don't have time for anything more complicated, a sharing service is the way to go. Bonus: Your mom can get her own prints made.
What you need to know: The Web is flooded with sharing sites. Some of the most popular are Snapfish.com, Kodakgallery.com, Shutterfly.com, Photos.yahoo.com, and Pictures.aol.com. Create a free account, upload any photos you want to share into online albums, and enter your friends' e-mail addresses so the link gets sent to them. We like Shutterfly and Kodakgallery because they allow friends to see your photos without having to register (they do need to create an account to buy prints, however). Most of the sites will let you do some basic red-eye fixing, cropping, and effects. Prices for prints vary -- Snapfish.com was the cheapest we found, at 12 cents per 4-x-6-inch photo.
Words of warning: Although sharing sites generally keep your albums posted indefinitely, David D. Busch, author of Digital Photography All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, recommends burning your photos onto a CD instead of relying on a sharing site as backup. "Even though they keep backups, a major service could have a catastrophic computer crash and lose all of your photos," says Busch.
Get crafty and turn your photos into a personalized slide show, photo book, or greeting that you can e-mail to friends and family.
What you need to know: Most sharing sites will let you view your photos as a basic slide show, but there are some services that give you more creative control. Our favorite: Onetruemedia.com, a Web site that allows you to upload both photos and videos, choose effects and music, and put together a streaming video that you can share online or by ordering a high-resolution DVD -- really useful for grandparents who aren't so good on the computer. Another cool slide-show site is Photoshow.com, which includes tons of easy-to-apply effects so that you can put together a customized show in no time. Shutterfly.com recently launched a service that lets you create and share "memory books" online for free, whether or not you choose to order a bound version. And if you want more inspiration, check out Smilebox.com. This site is full of photo books, short slide shows, cards, and keepsakes you can personalize and e-mail to friends.
Words of warning: If your friends have older computers with browsers that aren't up to date, they'll have trouble seeing your creations, and Smilebox is not yet available for Mac users.
If you're tech-savvy, you can build your own Web site to which you can upload all your photos. And if you're not, you can cheat and get similar results.
What you need to know: Creating your own Web site has its advantages. "You can put up a lot more than just pictures," says Busch. "You can post birth announcements, news updates, and whatever else you can scan." Hosting services like your Internet service provider, iWeb (for Mac users), and Yahoo! Web Hosting usually have templates to make building sites easier. And if you like the idea of having a Web site but you're too intimidated to create one, check out Shutterfly Collections and Snapfish group rooms. The sharing services will let you set up a personal Web page on their sites so that family and friends can check in to see your photos at their leisure and order prints -- and best of all, they can add their own photos. (Kodak Gallery has a similar service but charges a monthly fee of $2.49.)
Words of warning: Strangers can access any Web site you build, so password-protect anything you don't want to make public.
Kodak EasyShare V803, $200: This camera is small, comes in lots of fun colors, includes 22 scene modes to make choosing the right setting easier, and best of all gives you 8 megapixels and 3X optical zoom for a bargain price.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1, $300: Although it's tiny, this 5-megapixel camera has a 10X zoom that lets you capture action from a distance. It's great for taking pictures on the playground or during soccer games.
Nikon CoolPix S7c, $350: The coolest thing about this 7.1 megapixel camera is that it has a wireless card and comes with a year of T-Mobile's HotSpot Wi-Fi service -- you can e-mail photos directly from your camera.
Canon PowerShot S3 IS, $399:If you're looking for a camera that takes great videos, this 6-megapixel camera is for you. It has a 12X zoom, takes high-quality movies with stereo sound, and has a feature that allows you to snap stills while the video records.