Image organizer

An image organizer or image management application is application software for organising digital images.[1][2] It is a kind of desktop organizer software application.

DigiKam, an image organizer
DigiKam, an image organizer

Image organizer software focuses on handling large numbers of images. In contrast to an image viewer, an image organizer can edit image tags and can often upload files to on-line hosting pages. Enterprises may use Digital Asset Management (DAM) solutions to manage larger and broader amounts of digital media.

Some programs that come with desktop environments such as gThumb (GNOME) and digiKam (KDE) were originally simple image viewers, and have evolved into image organizers.

Common image organizers featuresEdit

  • 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
  • User roles and permissions enable controlled access to certain images while preventing access to others.
  • 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 or in sidecar files.[3]
  • Share: Resizing, exporting, e-mailing and printing.

Not so common, or differentiating featuresEdit

  • 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 or Phase One Media Pro).
  • Retention of Exif, IPTC and XMP metadata already embedded in the image file itself

Two categories of image organizersEdit

  • 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 allow the user only 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 their hard drive. While they provide maximum flexibility, manual organizers rely on the user to have their 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 purposes, procedures, and outcomes.

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 organizationEdit

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:[4]

  • colour, shape and texture recognition[5] (For example, Picasa experimentally allows searching for photos with primary colour names.)
  • subject recognition[6]
  • fully or semi-automated facial, torso or body recognition[7][8] (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.[9] 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 untagged image and some template image which is associated with a keyword, and then propose that the operator apply the same keyword(s) to the untagged images

Notable image organizersEdit

Name OS Type License Metadata Geotagging Facial
Map display Synchronizes
with online
ACDSee Windows Proprietary Yes IPTC Exif XMP Yes Yes Yes ≤ 25 GB to ACDSee online, flickr, SmugMug,

and Zenfolio

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 file finder.
Adobe Photoshop Album Windows and macOS Proprietary Yes No No This product has been discontinued.
Adobe Photoshop Elements Organizer Windows and macOS Proprietary Yes Exif IPTC XMP Yes Yes Yes Flickr, Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Email Component of Adobe Photoshop Elements. Also supports management and sharing of video clips.
Aperture (Apple) macOS local database Proprietary Yes Exif IPTC XMP Yes Yes Yes iCloud, Flickr, Facebook, SmugMug Discontinued, but still working on current OS
CodedColor PhotoStudio Pro Windows Proprietary Yes IPTC No No
DBGallery Windows Cloud and On-premise Proprietary Yes IPTC Exif XMP Yes No Yes No Team features such as version control and activity logging. Support for very large collections (millions). Accessed using web browsers.
digiKam KDE (Linux, macOS, Windows) GPL Yes IPTC Exif XMP Yes Yes Yes Yes

23hq, Facebook, Flickr, Gallery2, Piwigo, SmugMug.

Image management application database, deals with collections of 100,000's of photos
FastStone Image Viewer Windows Freeware Yes Exif
Fotostation Windows, macOS Proprietary Yes No
F-Spot Unix GPL Yes discontinued in 2017
Geeqie Unix GPL Yes Yes No Yes No
Google Photos iOS, Android and Web Freeware Yes IPTC Yes Yes No Yes Integrated with Google online tool suite.
gThumb Unix GPL Yes No Yes
iPhoto macOS local database Proprietary Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes As of April 2015, this product has been discontinued. Superseded by Photos (Apple).
KPhotoAlbum Unix GPL Yes Yes No * Yes No * Has an option to tag faces on photo manually
Lightroom CC Windows, macOS, iOS, Android and Web cloud-based database Proprietary Yes No No Yes not compatible with Lightroom Classic CC[10]
Lightroom Classic CC (LR 7) Windows and macOS catalogue-managed local folders Proprietary Yes IPTC Exif XMP Yes Yes Yes PicasaWeb, Flickr, Piwigo, SmugMug with


Professional image management application database, asynchronously catalog DVD collections of 10,000's of photos. Has built-in RAW Editor that allows to edit RAW images in batch
Phase One Media Pro Windows and macOS Proprietary Yes IPTC Exif XMP No No No Phase One Media Pro (discontinued) was 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.
Photos (Apple) macOS, iOS and Web cloud-based database Proprietary Yes No Yes Yes Yes Default photo manager for macOS, iOS, tvOS, watchOS. Supports editing, iCloud, printing, sharing, searching.
Microsoft Photos Windows 8 and later Freeware No Yes No No Default photo manager for Windows 8 and later.
Picasa/PicasaWeb Windows, macOS and Linux Freeware Yes IPTC Yes Yes Yes (per folder) Yes (PicasaWeb only) 1 GB free online storage, integrated with Google online tool suite. Discontinued March 2016.
PicaJet Windows Proprietary Yes Exif IPTC XMP Yes Flickr, Multi-user database access, unlimited category-nesting levels, hiding private images, supports for more than 60 image file formats
Shotwell Linux LGPL Yes Exif IPTC XMP No No No Yes Facebook, Flickr, PicasaWeb, Piwigo non-destructive editing, one-click autoenhance
Shutterfly Studio Windows Freeware Yes
ViewMinder Windows XP and 2000 Proprietary Discontinued in 2007
Windows Photo Gallery Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2 Proprietary Yes IPTC Exif XMP Yes Yes Yes OneDrive, Facebook, Flickr, Inkubook plus more with plugins OneDrive offers 15 GB of free online storage (and extra 15 GB if automatic photo upload from smartphone is enabled). The latest version of the suite drops the Windows Live portion of the name and is no longer compatible with Windows XP or Windows Vista. Discontinued in 2017.
XnView Windows and Unix-like Freeware Yes IPTC Exif
Zoner Photo Studio Windows Proprietary Yes Exif IPTC XMP Yes No Using HTML templates
Digital Photo Professional Windows Proprietary

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Cynthia Baron and Daniel Peck, The Little Digital Camera Book, July 1, 2002 pp:93
  2. ^ Julie Adair King, Shoot Like a Pro! Digital Photography July 28, 2003 pp:21-23
  3. ^ "Who’s got the tag? Database truth versus file truth" by Jon Udell 2007
  4. ^ Lightroom and the future of organizing photos
  5. ^ Archived 2008-03-13 at the Wayback Machine Automated Image Retrieval Using Color and Texture (1995)
  6. ^ Content-based object organization for efficient image retrieval in image databases (2006)
  7. ^ Semi-Automatic Image Annotation Using Event and Torso Identification
  8. ^ Managing Digital Photo Collections
  9. ^ Temporal event clustering for digital photo collections
  10. ^ "Migrate photos and videos from Lightroom Classic CC to Lightroom CC". Retrieved 2017-11-30.

Further readingEdit

  • 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