I have about ~40,000 files (~200 GB) of photos on the hard drive (JPG with metadata, from different cameras). I used to use Picasa before, but when I had to switch to a new computer a few years ago, Picasa couldn't handle the move. I therefore lost all my manually created tags (albums, faces, etc.) and with it any desire to ever use Picasa again.

A decent fraction of the files are duplicates.

Some files are in their original camera-created folders (e.g., DMC TZ5/100_PANA, DMC FZ150/100_PANA, etc.); others are in the folders I created by hand (e.g., Europe2010, Mexico2009, etc.) as I was trying to organize photos without the help of software.

In the long run, I'd prefer to keep photos in the original camera folders, since it requires the least amount of manual work. (Unless I'm missing something.)

What software would you recommend for getting all this stuff organized?

I don't need any editing features. I just only the basic tagging (assign groups of photos to an album, add comments, and be able to search by tags).

My main concern is that the tags I create may be lost again in the future. Also, I wouldn't want the software to touch the actual photo files (again because I don't trust it). Therefore, ideally, I'd prefer a separate index file in a non-proprietary format, so that I can easily move to another computer / software in the future.

I don't mind paying anything up to $200-300 for the software. I don't mind using multiple apps (e.g., one for initial tagging/removal of duplicates; another for searching/viewing/minor re-tagging).

Any suggestions much appreciated!


3 Answers 3


Personally, I use Adobe Lightroom for my cataloging. It's not free, but it does an excellent job of allowing alterations to meta data, letting you specify ratings and categories, even letting you make many non-destructive edits to the images (including applying edits in bulk). It is well within your price range.

It also has a lot of great output options for online galleries, print and file storage and is expandable through a large library of both free and pay plugins.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Asuuming USD, Lighroom is below the budget! The official price is $149 and Amazon sells it for $115 or $69 for the student version. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 13:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Itai - oh nice, the price has dropped since I first used it I guess. I don't bother checking retail anymore since I'm always paying upgrade pricing. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 13:53

There are quite a few aspects to this one...

Keeping the photo's in their current folders isn't a big problem if you're intending to search by metadata.

Metadata management is one of those things that there's no silver bullet right now (and because of different workflows may never be). Also I'd be wary of your desire to keep metadata in another file as in my experience in other areas of IT it gets tricky to manage in any kind of volume and if a few files get renamed (or moved to another folder on another machine for example) then the link between the image and metadata can easily be lost.

Personally I use a suite of tools to manage my library of ~700GB with ~100k files. Mostly either Adobe Bridge (part of Photoshop) and Windows Live Photo Gallery for facial recognition, which makes tagging much easier. In some rare instances I use exiftool but being a command line thing (and even with a gui) it's not for the feint-hearted.

Assigning photo's to an 'album' is going to be a problem for anything that doesn't maintain it's own metadata library - so you'd have to think of a way around that one like putting info / key words in the description tag.

  1. Max, there is a free Daminion Photo Manager software that we use to manage our photo collection that fits your requirements. It is focused in image cataloging but don't have any image editing capabilities. Unlike Picasa, all tags are (automatically) synced with image metadata so they travel along with the photos, and can be recovered even in case of the database crash.

BTW I am co-founder of the Daminion Software company.

  1. You can get rid of your duplicate images by most of the modern image managers or camera importers:

    • Specify a new location to your importing images

    • Specify unique folder/file naming rules for example: YYYY\YYYY-MM-DD for folders and cameramodel_yyyy-mm-dd_hh-mm-ss_imageID.ext.

The idea behind this approach is that duplicate images have the same set of metadata properties and only one image copy will be copied into your destination location.

Hope this helps.

  • \$\begingroup\$ And what is the name of that software? \$\endgroup\$
    – Juan Nunez
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 11:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Murat thank you - but can you tell me the name of the software? Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – max
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 11:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is the product of our company, unfortunately rules of this site doesn't allow me to disclose its name. But if you'll have a luck to find it, please check out the 1.0 RC1 (766) version from the forum, not from official download page. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 12:49
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @MuratfromDaminion I think you're fine to disclose the name and link to it directly; you're very clear that you're affiliated with the company; and you've been here for a while, and provide answers to questions where the answer isn't just your software. For reference, here's the relevant part of the FAQ: photo.stackexchange.com/faq#promotion \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 13:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Matthew, thanks for the clarification! Here is the link: daminion.net \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 13:31

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.