Why Use Photo Manager Software?
The top performers in our review are Adobe Lightroom 6, the Gold Award winner; PhotoDirector 7 Ultra, the Silver Award winner; and ACDSee Pro 8, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing photo manager software to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 programs.
With all of the gadgets in our lives, it has never been easier to snap a photo. Whether you are using a computer, tablet, phone or actual camera, you need a way to organize all of your photos after you take them. One way to catalog and organize your pictures is with photo manager software. Most of these programs offer multiple ways to categorize your photos and even have basic editing tools.
If you are looking for more affordable software that focuses specifically on categorizing your images, check out our photo organizing review. We also have reviews of photo editing software and graphic design software if you are looking for a full-featured program that can edit and transform your photos.
While some photo manager programs have editing tools, their main purpose is to keep your photos safe and make them easy to access. With tagging tools that categorize photos by location, date, subject or trip, you can store thousands of photos and still find them quickly. Both speed and ease of use distinguish the top-rated photo manager software from the rest.
Like most software, several companies now offer photo manager programs as a service and software. The services offer the same features and functionality as the software but charge a monthly service fee rather than a one-time software purchase. They can also be accessed from any computer, tablet or phone. We evaluated photo manager software that ranged in price from $30 to $450.
Photo Manager Software: What We Tested, What We Found
A photo manager program should categorize photos quickly and makes them easy to find. To test the effectiveness of the different software, we uploaded 150 photos to the programs and made categories, such as dates, people and locations, to organize them, noting how quickly the software responded to our commands. We also tested the programs’ editing features by resizing, altering the color of and cropping photos. Software that offered search engines were the most effective.
We found that an application’s workspace played a role in how easy it was to use. The programs that displayed the organizing tools either above or on the thumbnails were the easiest to use and saved time. Software that allowed us to customize the workspace to fit our own preference was also easy to use because we could place the organizing tools where we could access them quickly.
The software were separated by responsiveness. We found that the best photo manager software maintained quick loading times and performed edits quickly, while those lower on our lineup struggled managing so many photos.
While we focused on the organizing features of the software, we also tested the editing features they offer. We performed simple edits on the photos to evaluate the quality of the editing tools. The editing tools on the software performed similarly and ranged very little in quality.
Tagging: Categorizing Your Photos
The variety of tagging categories served as a key differentiator between photo managers. The best photo manager programs have a wide selection of tagging and category options, as well as the option to make your own tags and categories. We found that software with tagging capabilities, customized categories, rating systems and labels made it easier to find that one photo out of 500.
All of the software we reviewed allow you to organize your photos in some way, whether by date, location or person. While not every program we tested provides all of these criteria options, each one has a search engine that helps you find your photos using the categories it supports. This type of organization system makes it easy to track down photos, no matter how many you have. Almost every software also gives you the option to add ratings to your photos, so you can categorize them from most to least favorite.
While every software offered some method of organization, not all the software offered color labels or custom categories. Color labels serve as another way to categorize your photos and find them at a glance, while custom categories give you control over how you label and find your photos.
Editing Capabilities: They All Have Them
All of the photo manager software we reviewed feature editing tools; however, the tools range in how advanced they are. The programs that promote photo editing as their main function have more advanced tools than those that focus mostly on organizing photos. For example, PhotoDirector 7 Ultra and Corel PaintShop Pro X8 are full-featured photo editing programs. With these applications, you can adjust colors, apply filters and remove backgrounds from your photos. On the other hand, software like Magix Photo Manager only offers basic editing tools for tasks like adjusting colors, cropping and resizing your images.
The editing tools you need depend on the type of editing you plan on doing. For cloning tools and creative filters, you need software that couples an advanced photo editor with its photo organizer.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. We obtained the units in our comparison on loan from the companies. The companies had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
What Else is Important in Selecting Photo Manager Software?
Aside from photo editing and organizing tools, there are other features to consider before purchasing photo management software. These additional features are reflected in our scores, recommendations and articles about photo manager software. When focusing on features, you should consider the following:
File Management: Does the Software Support Your Photo Files?
If a digital camera serves as your primary source of photography, you want organizing software that is compatible with RAW files. Software with RAW compatibility lets you edit these images without corrupting the files.
You also want software that supports common image file formats. If you use a different program to edit your images, you want a photo manager that supports the same files as your editing software, whether they are JPG, TIFF or PNG.
With multiple file formats, you can create and save different edits of one photo in a variety of formats. The best photo management software can tag, code and label images so that you can create and find multiple versions of one image.
Sharing: Which Social Media Sites Does It Support?
While organizing photos in an easy-to-find manner is important, being able to share them on Facebook, Flickr and other social media sites is too. The best organizing programs allow you to share entire albums on multiple platforms. If you want to back up your files, you can upload them in bulk to online galleries, photo sites, social media or the cloud. Some organizing programs even help you create photobooks, calendars, cards, CDs and DVDs.
Photo Manager Software: Our Verdict and Recommendations
Three photo manager programs stood out among the others in our comparison: Adobe Lightroom 6, PhotoDirector 7 Ultra and ACDSee Pro 8. These programs offer a variety of ways to organize your photos, as well as the option to create your own categories. Additionally, they have sharing and editing capabilities. With these features, you can enhance your photo collection and share it with friends directly from the application.
Adobe Lightroom may cost more than most of the other photo manager software, but it is easy to use and has strong support. If you need help learning how to use the software, you can view video tutorials, ask questions on the user forum or search the online manual. Additionally, this software offers a variety of organizing options, so you can categorize your photos in a way that works best for you. You can add ratings, tags, locations, color labels and face tags, or you can organize by date with this program. After you organize photos, you can then use the assortment of standard and advanced editing tools to enhance your images and then share them with all of your friends on social media sites.
PhotoDirector 7 Ultra and ACDSee Pro 8 offer similar features as Lightroom but at a reduced price. They have a variety of organizing capabilities and editing tools you can use to enhance your photos. Similar to Lightroom, there are many different tools for organizing your photos such as like ratings, tags and keywords. You can also use the editing tools to transform your photos.
While these programs have similar tools, Lightroom creates higher quality edits. PhotoDirector 7 Ultra and ACDSee Pro 8 offer comparable features to Adobe Lightroom, but they fall behind in user friendliness. With crowded workspaces, it is harder to find tools using these programs than in Adobe’s photo manager, making it a superior choice in both editing and user friendliness.