This article is a pre-release chapter in Jeff Carlson’s upcoming “Take Control of Your Digital Photos,” scheduled for public release in August 2013. Apart from the introduction, these chapters are available only to TidBITS members; see “Streamed Advice for Managing Your Digital Photos” for details.
Choose a Photo-Management Application
Although it’s possible to dump photos into a folder on your computer and call that “organization,” this is one case where I don’t recommend a do-it-yourself approach. My photo-management strategy relies heavily on software to organize images and apply essential metadata. The time you save when tagging and searching for images, in my opinion, justifies the price of a good photo-management program.
But which one? I’d love to say, “Go get this one program and you’ll be set,” but that’s not realistic: your photo library may already be stored in an application that makes it difficult to transition; or you may need something that offers more image-editing features than other programs.
The good news is that there are several interesting options for managing photos. However, their features vary widely: some are designed just for speeding up the import process, some offer a photo-focused view of folders on your hard disk, and some are self-contained photo-management libraries. Because it’s impractical for me to list every program out there, I’ve focused on the features that I consider most essential for effectively managing your photo collection. (I’ll discuss specific programs that meet these criteria—and identify my preference—in a moment.) If you’re unhappy with your current photo organizer and are looking for a better option, keep this feature list in mind:
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