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Image organizer software is primarily focused on improving the user's workflow by facilitating the handling of large numbers of images. In contrast to an image viewer, an image organizer has at least the additional ability to edit the image tags and often also an easy way to upload files to on-line hosting pages.
Some programs that come with desktop environments such as gThumb (GNOME) and digiKam (KDE) were originally programmed to be simple image viewers, and have since gained features to be used as image organizer as well. Sharalike is a cloud based application that is considered a true image organization product.
Common image organizers features
- Multiple thumbnail previews are viewable on a single screen and printable on a single page. (Contact Sheet)
- Images can be organized into albums
- Albums can be organized into collections
- Adding tags (also known as keywords, categories, labels or flags). Tags can be stored externally, or in industry-standard IPTC or XMP headers inside each image file.
- Resizing, exporting, e-mailing and printing.
Not so common, or differentiating features
- Pictures can be organized by one or more mechanisms
- Images can be organized into folders, which may correspond to file-system folders.
- Images may be organized into albums, which may be distinct from folders or file-system folders.
- Albums may be organized into collections, which may not be the same as a folder hierarchy.
- Grouping or sorting by date, location, and special photographic metadata such as exposure or f-stops if that information is available. See Exif for example.
- Images can appear in more than one album
- Albums can appear in more than one collection
- Grouped or stacking of images within an album, by date, time, and linking copies to originals.
- Adding and editing titles and captions
- Simple or sophisticated search engines to find photos
- Searching by keywords, caption text, metadata, dates, location or title
- Searching with logical operators and fields, such as "(Title contains birthday) and (keywords contain cake) not (date before 2007)"
- Separate backing up and exporting of metadata associated with photos.
- Retouching of images (either destructively or non-destructively)
- Editing images in third-party graphical software and then re-incorporating them into the album automatically
- Stitching to knit together panoramic or tiled photos
- Grouping of images to form a slideshow view
- Exporting of slideshows as HTML or flash presentations for web deployment
- Synchronizing of albums with web-based counterparts, either third-party (such as Flickr), or application specific (such as Lightroom, Phase One Media Pro, Photo Supreme and Picasa)
- Retention of Exif, IPTC and XMP metadata already embedded in the image file itself
Two categories of image organizers
- Automatic image organizers. These are software packages that read data present in digital pictures and use this data to automatically create an organization structure. Each digital picture contains information about the date when the picture was taken. It is this piece of information that serves as the basis for automatic picture organization. The user usually has little or no control over the automatically created organization structure. Some tools create this structure on the hard drive (physical structure), while other tools create a virtual structure (it exists only within the tool).
- Manual image organizers. This kind of software provides a direct view of the folders present on a user's hard disk. Sometimes referred to as image viewers, they only allow the user to see the pictures but do not provide any automatic organization features. They give maximum flexibility to a user and show exactly what the user has created on his hard drive. While they provide maximum flexibility, manual organizers rely on the user to have his/her own method to organize their pictures. Currently there are two main methods for organizing pictures manually: tag and folder based methods. While not mutually exclusive, these methods are different in their methodology, outcome and purpose. Presently, many commercial image organizers offer both automatic and manual image organization features. A comparison of image viewers reveals that many free software packages are available that offer most of the organization features available in commercial software.
Future of image organization
There are several imminent advances anticipated in the image organization domain which may soon allow widespread automatic assignment of keywords or image clustering based on image content:
- colour, shape and texture recognition (For example, Picasa experimentally allows searching for photos with primary colour names)
- subject recognition
- fully or semi-automated facial, torso or body recognition (For example, FXPAL in Palo Alto experimentally extracts faces from images and measures the distance between each face and a template.)
- geo-temporal sorting and event clustering. Many software will sort by time or place; experimental software has been used to predict special events such as birthdays based on geo-temporal clustering.
In general, these methods either:
- automatically assign keywords based on content, or
- measure the distance between an unclassified image and some template image which is associated with a keyword, and then propose that the operator apply the same keyword(s) to the unclassified images
Notable image organizers
|ACDSee||Windows||Proprietary||Yes IPTC Exif XMP||Yes||No||Yes ≤ 25 GB to ACDSee online, flickr, SmugMug,
|Supports: >100 file formats, Unicode, batch processing, viewing
contents of archives formats, non-destructive editing, DB export, R/W to
CD, VCD, DVD. Contains: SMTP email client, FTP transport, duplicate
|Adobe Photoshop Album||Windows and OS X||Proprietary||Yes||No||No||This product has been discontinued.|
|CodedColor PhotoStudio Pro||Windows||Proprietary||Yes IPTC||No||No|
|Daminion||Windows||Proprietary||Yes IPTC Exif XMP||Yes||No||No||Has a server-based version for local networks.|
|DBGallery||Windows||Proprietary||Yes IPTC Exif XMP||Yes||No||No||Special focus on utilizing image meta-data for finding, exploring and
organizing photos. Multi-user shared database.
|digiKam||KDE (Linux, Mac OS X, Windows)||GPL||Yes IPTC Exif XMP||Yes||Yes||Yes
||Image management application database, deals with collections of
100,000's of photos
|FastStone Image Viewer||Windows||Freeware||Yes Exif|
|IMatch 5.1||Windows||Proprietary||Yes IPTC Exif XMP||Yes||Yes||No|
|JBrout||Windows, Linux||GPL||Yes IPTC|
|Lightroom||Windows and OS X||Proprietary||Yes IPTC Exif XMP||No||Yes PicasaWeb, Flickr, Piwigo, SmugMug with
|Professional image management application database, asychronously
catalog DVD collections of 10,000's of photos
|Phase One Media Pro||Windows and OS X||Proprietary||Yes IPTC Exif XMP||No||No||No||Phase One Media Pro is a professional photo manager that makes it easy
to manage both photo and video assets. Supports over 100 file formats.
Asynchronously manage, add keywords and ratings to catalog with up to 500.000 photos.
|Photo Supreme||Windows and OS X||Proprietary||Yes IPTC Exif XMP||Yes||Yes||Yes||Cross platform photo manager available as a standalone and multi user edition|
|Picasa/PicasaWeb||Windows, OS X and Linux||Freeware||Yes IPTC||Yes||Yes||Yes (PicasaWeb only)||1 GB free online storage, integrated with Google online
|PicaJet||Windows||Proprietary||Yes Exif IPTC XMP||Yes Flickr, Fotki.com||Multi-user database access, unlimited category-nesting levels, hiding
private images, support for more than 60 image file formats
|Phototheca||Windows||Freeware(Not Anymore)||Yes Exif IPTC||No||Import photos into library, organize, view and sort basing on
metadata. Detects duplicates, hide private photos.
|ResourceSpace||Cross-platform (web application)||BSD license||Yes IPTC XMP Exif||Open source Digital Asset Management solution.|
|Sharalike||Cross-platform (web application)||Proprietary||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Cross platform photo & video manager available online and through the Apple Store|
|Shotwell||Linux||LGPL||Yes Exif IPTC XMP||No||No||Yes Facebook, Flickr, PicasaWeb, Piwigo||non-destructive editing, one-click autoenhance|
|ThumbsPlus||Windows||Proprietary||Yes IPTC Exif & XMP||Yes||No||Yes Facebook||Multimedia organizer, editor and player. Supports 150+ file formats, including RAW camera files.|
|TSR Photo Manager||Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2||Proprietary||Yes IPTC Exif XMP||No||No||Yes Facebook, Flickr, TwitPic||TSR Photo Manager is optimized for sorting and categorizing thousands of photos in a fast and simple way|
|ViewMinder||Windows XP and 2000||Proprietary||Discontinued in 2007|
|Windows Photo Gallery||Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2||Proprietary||Yes IPTC Exif XMP||Yes||Yes||Yes SkyDrive, Facebook, Flickr, Inkubook plus more
|SkyDrive offers 7 GB of free online storage. The latest|
|XnView||Windows and Unix-like||Freeware||Yes IPTC Exif|
|Zoner Photo Studio||Windows||Proprietary||Yes Exif IPTC XMP||Yes||No||Using HTML templates|
- Image viewers
- Image retrieval
- Digital asset management
- Comparison of image viewers
- Desktop organizer
- Personal wiki
- Cynthia Baron and Daniel Peck, The Little Digital Camera Book, July 1, 2002 pp:93
- Julie Adair King, Shoot Like a Pro! Digital Photography July 28, 2003 pp:21-23
- "Who’s got the tag? Database truth versus file truth" by Jon Udell 2007
- http://www.oreillynet.com/digitalmedia/blog/2007/03/lightroom_and_the_future_of_or.html Lightroom and the future of organizing photos
- http://www.ctr.columbia.edu/~jrsmith/html/pubs/PAMI/pami_final_1.html Automated Image Retrieval Using Color and Texture (1995)
- http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1232330.1232374&coll=GUIDE&dl=GUIDE Content-based object organization for efficient image retrieval in image databases (2006)
- http://hcil.cs.umd.edu/trs/2004-15/2004-15.pdf Semi-Automatic Image Annotation Using Event and Torso Identification
- http://www.ercim.org/publication/Ercim_News/enw62/wilcox.html Managing Digital Photo Collections
- http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=957093 Temporal event clustering for digital photo collections
- Multimedia Information Retrieval and Management: Technological Fundamentals and Applications by David Feng, W.C. Siu, Hong J. Zhang
- Multimedia Networking: Technology, Management, and Applications by Syed Mahbubur Rahman
- Multimedia and Image Management by Susan Lake, Karen Bean