Best Photo Management Software
We tested nine photo manager programs for a total of 85 hours to discover which had the best organizing, editing and sharing features. Our choice for the best photo manager software is CyberLink PhotoDirector Ultra 10. It lets you organize photos by date, color labels, star ratings, locations and even by person through facial recognition. This program works with common file types like RAW and JPG files, and it makes it easy to share your photos on Facebook and Flickr or to create a slideshow and share it on YouTube.
CyberLink PhotoDirector 10
PhotoDirector 10 allows you to arrange your photos in several ways, including by categories you create, which helps you find your favorite images quickly.
Magix Photo Manager Deluxe
Magix Photo Manager Deluxe offers all the organizational tools most users want – but at a much lower price than the other top programs. And the interface is clean and easy to navigate, which simplifies the process.
Corel PaintShop Pro 2019
PaintShop Pro has a decent number of organizational features, but it truly excels with its wide range of basic and advanced editing tools. This is a great program for beginners and experienced editors alike.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Pricing||File Management||Sharing||Editing & Extras||MSRP Price||Ease of Use||RAW File Compatibility||View Metadata||Tag Keywords||Backup Files||Sort Thumbnails||Mark Photos||Organize by Date||Add Color Label||Customize Categories||Tag Locations||Tag Faces||Lock Albums||Online Storage||Disc Burning||Slideshow||Flickr||YouTube||Supported File Formats||Non-Destructive Editing||Auto Adjustments||Cosmetic Retouching||Color Adjustments||Editing Preview||Video Editing||iOS App||Android App||User Forum||FAQs||Phone||Tutorials||Live Chat||Recommended RAM||Windows 10||Windows 8||Windows 7||Mac OS X||Mac OS X 10.10.9.5|
|CyberLink PhotoDirector Ultra 10||View Deal||4.5/5||8.5||9.5||10||10||$99.99||100%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||✓||✓||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||8||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||2GB||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|ACDSee Photo Studio Professional 2019||View Deal||4.5/5||8.5||10||8.3||8.8||$99.99||90%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||13||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||2GB||✓||✓||✓||-||-|
|Magix Photo Manager Deluxe||View Deal||4.5/5||9.8||10||8.3||3.3||$49.99||90%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||5||✓||✓||-||✓||✓||-||-||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||512MB||✓||✓||✓||-||-|
|Corel PaintShop Pro 2019||View Deal||4/5||9.3||8.3||5.5||8.8||$69.99||100%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||✓||✓||✓||-||✓||✓||-||-||✓||✓||-||8||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||2GB||✓||✓||✓||-||-|
|StudioLine Photo Classic 4||View Deal||3.5/5||9||7.5||7.3||3.3||$80.00||95%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||✓||✓||-||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||-||8||✓||✓||-||✓||✓||-||-||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||2GB||✓||✓||✓||-||-|
|AfterShot Pro 3||View Deal||3.5/5||9.5||7.5||2.3||5.5||$54.99||95%||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||-||-||-||-||✓||-||-||-||3||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||-||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||2GB||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|MediaShow 6 Ultra||View Deal||3/5||9.5||3.3||8.3||4.3||$54.95||95%||✓||-||✓||-||✓||-||✓||-||✓||✓||✓||-||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||3||✓||✓||-||✓||✓||✓||-||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-||2GB||✓||✓||✓||-||-|
|Proxima Photo Manager 2013||View Deal||3/5||10||4.3||4.5||3.3||$39.95||80%||✓||✓||✓||-||✓||✓||✓||-||✓||-||-||-||✓||-||-||✓||-||-||-||5||✓||✓||-||✓||✓||-||-||-||✓||✓||-||✓||✓||-||.0146GB||-||✓||✓||-||-|
CyberLink Photo Director is a simple program that is easy to learn. It allows you to tag and search your photos by keywords, dates, color labels, locations and faces. This variety of organizing options means you’re likely to find a method that works great for you. The program is very easy to navigate. It also offers backup reminders to help you remember to save your files.
This program offers several basic and advanced editing features, including cosmetic retouching tools to remove blemishes and whiten teeth. These tools can also adjust brightness levels, remove red eye, make color adjustments and even remove objects from your images. This program also lets you capture and edit photos from video clips.
PhotoDirector gives you access to CyberLink’s free online storage. You can also visit CyberLink’s online user community, where you can get feedback on your work and answers to questions from other users. If you need more help, you can contact support representatives via phone and email or search the website's FAQs page for answers.
This capable software lets you create and share slideshows of your favorite images, complete with music and slide transitions. It also allows you to upload your slideshows directly to YouTube, which is ideal if you want to share videos as well as photos.
This program doesn’t offer as many features and isn’t as file-compatible as our favorite overall software from CyberLink, but it definitely gives you value for your money. It offers several organizational features, editing tools and sharing capabilities but is less expensive than other top products. The interface is simple and clean, allowing you to grasp it easily.
You can assign keywords, locations, color labels and ratings to your photos, as well as tag faces to search through your collection quickly. Frequent backup reminders can be set to help you protect your cherished photos. This program can also password protect photos and albums to keep them safe from prying eyes.
This program is RAW compatible and works in layers. And since the software uses non-destructive editing techniques, your original images are safe while you make changes to a copy. The editing toolset is very basic, but it does allow you to make color adjustments and offers a handful of automatic edits to make the enhancing process simple. If you'd like to edit your photos further, you might be interested in another Magix program, Xara Photo & Graphic Designer.
Magix Photo Manager Deluxe lets you view your photos’ metadata to see what camera setting you used to capture your favorite images. This can be especially helpful if you aren't sure how you got the perfect look in a previously taken photo.
Best Editing Capabilities
PaintShop Pro is a powerful photo editing program, and while it does offer a decent range of organizing tools, this software truly excels when it comes to editing. When you first open the program, you can choose between the essential or the complete interface; essential gives you basic editing tools, while complete also allows you to organize your photos.
The editing tools cover both simple and advanced enhancements. This program has one of the best object removal features we have seen. You can adjust colors, create HDR images and make basic editing changes using cropping, selection and red-eye removal tools. You can even use this program on an iPad or Android tablet. PaintShop Pro supports the main photo files, including RAW, JPEG, PSD, TIFF, GIF and PNG.
You can organize your photos using keywords, ratings, dates, face tags and location tags, but there is no way to add color labels. Unfortunately, you cannot password-protect your photos and albums, like you can with ACDSee. Corel does provide its users with free online storage, so you can have a place to keep your favorite images. You can also set up backup reminders to protect your images in case something happens to your computer.
PaintShop Pro enables you to share your photos directly to social media sites such as Facebook and Flickr, but unlike other programs, this software doesn't allow you to create slideshows or burn your images to CD. If you need this option, we recommend Magix Photo Manager.
Best for Protecting Files
ACDSee excels when it comes to security and management options. If you want to protect your work, the software has a section where you can create and add a watermark to your photos.
You can also use this software to lock files and folders with a password so only you can access them. Organization is also a strong point for ACDSee. You can view metadata, add keyword tags to your photos, rate your photos, organize them by date, add color labels, create custom categories, tag locations on a map, and the program can even tag and remember people's faces. You'll be able to work with many file types including RAW images.
The editing tools in this program are vast and high-quality, but they often take a step or two longer than most programs to complete, which makes this software a little frustrating for anyone who is already familiar with photo editing software. Still, you'll be able to remove unwanted objects and get rid of blemishes like acne using the supplied tools. If you want to use ACDSee's cloud storage, you will need to pay extra. This is a downside to this software since many other programs provide some amount of cloud storage for free. If you want, you can also purchase a subscription of ACDSee's software under the name ACDSee 365, which costs $89 a year or $8.50 a month.
Most Affordable Mac Software
AfterShot 3 is available on both Windows and Mac and is our pick for the most affordable Mac photo manager.
AfterShot’s organization tools allow you to sort and search for your photos by keyword tags, date, color labels, custom categories and locations. You'll also be able to work with RAW files and view your photos' metadata. The software doesn't allow you to view a map when tagging photo locations, so you simply need to add the location to the metadata tab. We were also surprised to find that it didn't have a face tagging feature. This means that if you want to sort your images by specific people, you need to use their names as keyword tags. You cannot lock files or folders so if you're wanting a program that can help protect your images, this might not be the one for you.
Many photo management programs offer free online storage; however, this program doesn't offer anything of the kind, so you will need to store your photos on your hard drive or a different cloud storage service. You'll find cosmetic tools to touchup blemishes and heal tools that can be used to completely remove unwanted objects from your photos. Corel's website offers tutorials and a FAQs page if you need assistance or you can phone or email a customer rep. While AfterShot is missing many tools and features found in other top photo managers, its affordable price make it worth considering for Mac owners.
Why Trust Us
We have been testing photo manager software for the last six years. In this year's testing, we spent 85 hours using nine different programs. Our testers have backgrounds in photography and graphic design, so they were able to thoroughly evaluate each product using their previous experience.
As always, we created a fair testing environment for our photo manager reviews. To get additional insights beyond our testing, we reached out to Alex Brazeau with Corel PaintShop Pro to see what features the company found most important when creating its photo managing software. We also contacted Felicia Lee, a local professional photographer of 10 years, who gave us insights on her own photo manager preferences and uses. Quotes and details from these interviews are found lower on the page. Our purpose in contacting these individuals was to obtain unbiased information that could help us understand the best uses of photo manager software for both the experienced photographer and the novice.
How Much Does Photo Manager Software Cost?
The best photo management software will land between $50 and $100. Typically, the more expensive programs will include editing tools and sharing features in addition to the organizational tools, while the least expensive will only focus on photo management and might provide a few basic editing tools. You don't have to pay the most to get the best software for you. Look at what each program offers and determine which one fits your managing and editing styles best.
How We Tested
We took photo management programs that had high user ratings and then compared them against each other to see which ones were the best. We personally tested each of the programs in this comparison to better understand how easy they were to use and what photo organization features they offered. Our intention was to find software that was simple enough for beginners to learn while offering advanced features that experienced users and professionals could appreciate. We used the same group of photos on each program and tested their tools to see how many organizational options each offered.
We wanted to make sure that the programs we ranked most favorably were easy to use, so we gave each program a score based on how intuitive the user interface is. We awarded higher scores to programs that make it easy to share your photos directly to social media sites like Facebook, Flickr and YouTube. Programs that let you burn your photos or slideshows to CD or DVD also received higher scores.
While editing tools are not the main focus of photo managing software, it is important that you can enhance your photos as well as organize them. We tested each program’s color-adjustment, auto-adjustment and cosmetic retouching abilities to see how well each program performed. The ones that easily made good edits scored highest.
Here are some additional things to consider when looking for photo manager software:
The Industry Standard
We would be remiss not to mention Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Bridge or Adobe Photoshop Elements in this comparison. Their advanced organizing, metadata and editing tools set the bar when it comes to photo manager software. There are a few reasons why we didn't include these programs in our testing:
1) Since Lightroom and Photoshop are now only available in the Creative Cloud, you would have to subscribe for either a monthly or yearly payment to use them – a feature many users find off-putting. Adobe Bridge, on the other hand, is completely free to use. While definitely preferred by professionals, Lightroom and Bridge are designed to work in conjunction with Adobe Photoshop, which makes them more technical and gives them a steeper learning curve than the programs we tested.
2) Photoshop Elements, a simpler version of Photoshop, comes with additional photo management software. However, the program itself technically doesn't provide managing tools.
If you plan on using Adobe software regularly and you already know how to use it or don't mind taking the time to learn it, we still recommend it as one of the best options on the market.
If Adobe doesn't seem like the right fit for you, here are some additional things to consider about the programs we tested:
When we asked local photographer Felicia Lee about photo management software, she told us that the most important features for her are organization options and editing tools: "I need to be able to see all of my photos, have different ways to catalog and organize them. I need an easy, simple way to edit as well."
Managing your photo files definitely should be a simple, intuitive process. These programs allow you to view and edit metadata, as well as tag your photos in a variety of ways. Some programs have standout organizing features. For instance, Alex Brazeau, from Corel, told us that you can "access Google Maps in PaintShop Pro’s Map Mode to view, add, and edit location information (GPS metadata) embedded in [your] images. You can then sort photos by location." The best programs also allow you to completely customize your organizing methods by letting you add new category titles and offering an easy search tool. Being able to back up files is also incredibly important, so look for a program that not only allows you to do this but also lets you schedule frequent reminders about it.
Being able to show off your favorite photos is an important part of photo managing software. The rep from Corel emphasized the importance of being able to share projects directly to social media sites: "Having this ability helps a user become more efficient by uploading their images to their chosen platform directly instead of exporting, opening a browser, and then taking several steps to upload and share the same photo natively." We couldn't agree more; good photo manager software should be all about saving you time.
Most programs allow you to share photos directly to Facebook and Flickr. Some even allow you to make and share slideshows. If you plan on taking a lot of pictures and find yourself running out of room on your hard drive, keep an eye out for a program that comes with free online storage. While some companies offer cloud storage for an additional fee, there are many services that provide some storage to upload your photos for free.
Editing & Extras
Editing tools allow you to get the perfect look from your snapshots. As Brazeau told us, "Having the ability to edit photos directly within your photo management software is a crucial feature because it allows a user to own, learn, and use a single program for all their photo management and editing needs. A comprehensive, all-in-one photo editor provides photographers of any skill level the tools they need make a minor edit or create complex composited photos."
Most programs make non-destructive edits, which means they make edits on a copy of your photo and save the original from changes. These editing tools can help you brighten a dark image, adjust the colors of your shots or simply crop your photo. Some programs even feature cosmetic tools for smoothing out blemishes in skin or whitening teeth. If you want to make the editing process easier on yourself, make sure to take the time to get the right settings and positioning on your camera to begin with. It will save you a lot of time later on.
Most programs will work with a variety of file types, but the file type you choose should depend on what you're wanting to do with your image. Brazeau told us why he prefers to use RAW files when making edits: "When shooting RAW, a lossless file format, your camera records more image data than with a JPEG. This gives editors more freedom to correct problem areas in post-production, such as recovering blown highlights or adjusting shadows, which results in a higher quality final image." If you want to get the most out of editing your photos, you just might want to consider using your camera’s RAW format. RAW does take up more room on your memory card and hard drive, so stay aware of your storage capabilities.
What is Metadata?
All image files have metadata – information that stays with the image wherever it goes and helps you catalog the visual information of your image. Exif metadata tells you the shutter speed, dimensions, resolution, exposure time and other camera information at the time you took your shot. More advanced cameras can even tell you which camera took the shot, what lens was used, what the focal length was and where the image was taken. This is incredibly helpful if they ever wanted to duplicate the shot or its settings. Metadata can be especially helpful for sorting your images or correcting information. You can usually add or remove metadata to your images, like the name of the picture, through photo organizing software or photo editing software. That way you’ll be able to sort your photos more easily.
More Photo Organization and Editing Guides:
- The Best Photo Editing Software for PCs
- The Best Photo Editing Software for Macs
- The Best Slideshow Creation Software
- The Best Photo Collage Software
- The Best Photo Organizer Software