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Google closing popular website Picnik

Google is killing off Picnik, one of the most popular and easiest to use image editing websites, in an effort to boost Google -- the search engine's growing social network.

Picnik's users received an email earlier this month that announced Google will shut down the service April 19.

"We have been incredibly proud of building a product that is used and beloved by so many of you," a post on Picnik's blog showed Saturday. "We are excited by the photo-editing fun we have already brought to Google products, like Google , where you can find many of your favorite Picnik effects in Creative Kit. We encourage you to visit Google and give it a whirl."

Internet users who do not want to open their wallets to purchase the latest pricey Photoshop software can still use other Web-based photo editing sites like Pixlr, Pixenate, Splashup or Fotoflexer.

The demise of the photo editing site is part of Google's wave of closing underperforming sites or retooling its businesses.

Google Message Continuity (backup email service), Needlebase (database product), Social Graph API, and Urchin (basis for Google Analytics) will close later this year. Google will open-source Sky Map in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University.

In October, it announced it would kill its social network service Buzz, it shut down Google Labs in July, and Google Health was permanently put down in June. Picnik was one of Google's most loved applications.

Google acquired Picnik in March 2010. At the time, Google officials said they would grow the service, but that was before it launched Google .

The push to grow Google beyond its current 90 million users, a count that Google CEO Larry Page announced in Google's fourth-quarter report earlier this month, is strong and pervasive. Internet users opening a Gmail account now must also joining Google . That strategy will likely expand the social network's numbers.

Users with premium Picnik subscriptions will be fully reimbursed the $24.95 annual fee -- even those users whose accounts are near expiration. The good news is that Picnik is opening its premium services to all users until it closes in April.

A new feature called Picnik Takeout allows users who have stored their images on Picnik to transfer them to Google or their personal computers.