Three great tools for sharing photographs

Pixelpipe: Upload images to multiple sites

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Problem: Gone are the days when I could upload my photos to a single Web site and be done. I have Facebook for casual sharing with family and friends, SmugMug for serious image display, Flickr if I want my images to be found by others, plus various commercial sites where I like to order prints and gifts. The number of sites to which I need to upload any one file can top half a dozen.

Doing that manually gets irritating quickly, even with bulk uploader applications.

Solution: I've yet to find an ideal answer, since there doesn't seem to be one tool that connects to all the sites I use. However, Pixelpipe comes close, supporting one-stop upload to dozens of print-ordering, social networking and blogging sites. It even has an FTP setting to upload to your own server.

Pixelpipe has several platform options, including uploading via the Web site, desktop software plug-ins and stand-alone mobile apps (for iPhones, Android phones, various Nokia devices and webOS phones; there's also a more generic e-mail/MMS app).

There are plug-ins available for Firefox and Picasa. More serious photographers might be interested in the plug-in for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Unfortunately, there's no similar support for Adobe's Elements Organizer, part of the less expensive Adobe Photoshop Elements.

To use Pixelpipe, you first create a free account at, choose "add pipes" and then select a service from a rather long list. Each pipe corresponds to a service such as Kodak Gallery or Facebook. Authorize Pixelpipe to access an existing account (the steps vary by service), and then choose the display name for this pipe in your account, whether the default for this pipe is to get everything that's sent, and what "routing tag" you'll use to send a photo to that pipe if it's not in your defaults.

You can usually pick the destination album or folder for your pipes, which is helpful—although if you use Pixelpipe frequently to upload to a lot of sites, changing the destination for each pipe for each upload is somewhat tiresome. For instance, if your last batch upload went to "Fall Foliage" albums on all your sites, you'd have to go in and change each pipe's setting manually if you wanted the next batch to go to albums called "Halloween Party." It's a pity the service doesn't offer a global "create new album named" option for each batch of uploads.

Pixelpipe also falls a bit short in capturing existing file metadata such as tags and descriptions; entering data within Photoshop Elements or Spotlight doesn't mean Pixelpipe will pick up that information. If it's important to me that all the caption information I've already entered gets carried over during my upload, I'm likely to use Elements Organizer first. Elements supports way fewer sites than Pixelpipe, although happily Version 9, announced in late September, finally adds Facebook to the list.

Also note that when a Pixelpipe app asks for "tags," it means routing tags for those services you want as destinations and not keywords you wish to add to your photo. The company really ought to a) reword that and b) add actual photo-tagging capabilities.

Finally, you do need to see how things like "title" and "description" correspond with the services you're sending to. For instance, I find that the Pixelpipe photo title field often ends up as the photo caption online, while the description field simply disappears. This is useful to know before you spend a lot of time writing captions.

As I said, this isn't a perfect solution. Perhaps Lightroom would be, but I'm not ready to shell out $299 for organizing software when I've already bought Elements. Maybe Adobe, which offers an affordable $99 price to students and teachers for Lightroom, will someday extend that price for noncommercial use. Until then, I've got Elements Organizer to upload directly to a couple of sites where metadata is important to me; and Pixelpipe for most of the rest.

Free;, Pixelpipe Inc.

This story, "Pixelpipe: Upload images to multiple sites" was originally published by Computerworld.

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