Mike King

If you appreciate gazing lazily at a beautiful sunset over an idyllic Hawaiian beach, (and who wouldn't with the summer we've had?) then why not brighten up your desktop and office with a free download from www.webshots.com?

Over 20 million people worldwide have downloaded from Webshots, and the site is attracting new users at the rate of nearly 112,000 a week. Recently, nearly four million people downloaded a new free picture in one week.

When you visit the download page, there is a range of "starter packs" to choose from. These include a combination pack, sport, animals, space images, fine art, dogs and puppies, cats and kittens, skiing, rock climbing, windsurfing, and even fly-fishing. All downloadable files are scanned and guaranteed virus-free, and "adult" photos are banned from the site.

Once installed, a new icon appears in your system tray. Right-clicking the icon gives you control over how Webshots operates. Configuration options include a password for the screensaver and a calendar display on the desktop. A photo manager allows viewing of all the photos you have downloaded, and a simple click of the mouse takes you to the "daily download" photograph.

Webshots can automatically change your desktop image at intervals from 15 minutes to weekly, and you can easily select a different image at any time using the tray icon. The pictures are of a high quality and range, and are in Webshots compressed format. Cleverly, the software expands them only when they are used, making efficient use of disc space.

If you register on the site, you can then upload photos to your own albums. Other people can then browse these albums and download a copy if they wish. In addition, you can view the "highest rated", "most discussed" and "top downloaded" images. There is also the facility to send an image to a friend as an e-card.

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This was first published in September 2000


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