Best photo organiser / management tool

this is probably a 100-year old question but I still could not find a good solution. The challenge has grown as the amount of photo archived increased exponentially. Obviously for most photos taking on mobile devices, they may be synced / backed up to Google or Apple photos. But what about photos taken on ‘real’ cameras. The size and quantity has increased due to cheaper photography gear and storage.

Just wondering how people are storing / organising their photos and more importantly, how to find / retrieve them . Currently I am using Mylio but I am not really happy with it but could not find a better alternative. Interested to see other apps would come up

1 Like

I’ve tried many. Any of the cheaper “catalogue only” apps seem, to me, to be focused on clever or smart features but suffer badly on performance.

I personally use Adobe Lightroom Classic, which can be used with a free Adobe account. You only get the Library module working, but if that’s all you need, then it’s a decent solution.

In a photography forum for DxO PhotoLab the most often mentioned tool is PhotoMechanic Plus, but it’s not cheap. I can highly recommend PhotoLab for RAW processing and if your needs are modest it can do the management, too, as can ON1 (not a fan personally), Capture One (expensive), and others.

1 Like

I use Photo Mechanic Plus and can vouch for the fact that it’s superb. I agree that it’s expensive but I’m not aware of any other software that is as good. In addition, of course, you get with it the wonderful Photo Mechanic—which makes adding EXIF metadata (like keywords, location data, captions, etc.) to photos an absolute dream.

I appreciate it may well be overkill for the OP’s needs.



+1 for Adobe Lightroom Classic. Having used is since the beta versions prior to 1.0, I must say it’s really a solid and well maintained product. The only time I lost any data to it was when using a beta-version around v.3 with me not understanding what I was doing :slight_smile: A fast computer is always better for large catalogs, and it runs fine on my 2017 iMac 27 with a catalog of 135.000+ images.

It is a pro / enthusiast type of solution, and it really shines at developing your DLSR RAW files.

I have tried both Adobe Lightroom (LR) and Photo Mechanic (PM). I prefer Photo Mechanic. I still ingest using PM first do all the initial culling. Update the metadata and then bring into LR.

1 Like

Folders (Year>Month>Day) and Capture One

1 Like

I am not really interested in doing much editing, I just want a place where I can manage my photos, something that works well with iPhones/Photos (my iPhone is my only camera now), and doesn’t hide the file structure. I have a lot of old Olympus and Nikon RAW files that I think are causing problems with Photos and want something to manage it all. Not really worried about cloud sync, but I am never against another backup.

Adobe seems like it would get expensive $20 a month for Lightroom Classic with cloud support. Is Photo Mechanic Plus the better option?

Do you perhaps mean Adobe Bridge? I was not aware that Lightroom is available anywhere for free.

1 Like

After leaving Lightroom, I’ve also looked and not found a fully satisfactory answer. I am currently using Finder and the Fileloupe app as the frontend to my use of Affinity Photo and Pixelmator Pro.

Photo Mechanic Plus is expensive but may be on sale at the moment (maybe worth checking quickly!). Note that PM+ is not subscription.


1 Like

I recently bought and am currently starting to use Eagle, an image file management app that seems to have great organisational and search capabilities, well beyond those of Adobe Bridge.
It’s USD 29.95 for a perpetual licence, with 2 seats (cross platform) and has a Black Friday deal whereby they give you an extra seat if you retweet a prepared tweet about the app.

1 Like

I recently tried ACDSee - I found it really good for adding tags to images etc but I’ve since run in to issues, where writing tags to the photos destroyed some of the original metadata, which has meant that importing those images in to Apple Photos places them at the wrong locations in the timeline, as Photos is reading the date when the image was edited, not created.

Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend it and at the minute, I’m sticking with Apple Photos.

I have been a long time Lightroom user. I know use Lightroom Classic, which is basically the “old” Lightroom, as opposed to the current Lightroom which is cloud based (vs Lightroom Classic where photos are stored locally).

Adobe has a photographer’s bundle for about $10 / month that gives you LR Classic, Photoshop, Bridge and a few other less useful apps. I do see sales on that all the time for new users.

LR is a comprehensive DAM (digital asset manager) and photo editor that handles raw files from a variety of cameras well. There is always debate as to which raw editor does the “best” rendering, of course.

LR is used by a large number of professional, semi-professional, and amateur photographers.

I have tried Capture One and it is very highly regarded for its raw image processing, but I haven’t personally found it worth jumping on a new learned curve to date.

I wasn’t aware of PhotoMechanic Plus but plan to have a look. PhotoMechanic is a staple for sports photographers because it is widely felt to be the best app available for rapidly ingestive, reviewing, tagging, and creating EXIF data for large numbers of images, which is pretty much bread and butter for sports photographers. I imagine the same might be true for wedding photographers, but I use LR for that and find it works well for me. Of course if you have large numbers of images you need to import rapidly, a hybrid approach where you ingest, review, rate, tag, and caption in PhotoMechanic and then process the selects in another app might work as well.

Other choices include Skylum Luminar (which I think is on SetApp now) and On One Raw (or something like that).

There are a lot of choices now, and it’s worth downloading trial versions and seeing which workflow appeals to you.

Update: PhotoMechanic Plus is NOT an image processor. It adds database functionality to PhotoMechanic, but does not provide raw imaging processing or editing features. As such, you would still require a second app to do any image editing desired.


first , thanks for all the comments and suggestions. I am going to try them out and report back.

in relation to Fileloupe, it seems to be very similar to Lyn, just wondering anyone has experience with this app

I also use Lightroom with storage in the cloud. Right now I’m just using it for a catalog of my scanned photos (~8,000). Works great as a catalog and for editing.

This feature is fantastic. If you haven’t seen it in action there are many videos on YouTube.

1 Like

there was a couple of mentions of Capture One and Lightroom , etc. I do not use them but I thought they are more specialized for photo editing rather than photo organiser / management ?

I don’t know much about Capture One but I have recently started using Adobe Lightroom for my scanned photos. For now I keep these separate from the photos I take on the iPhone. For those I use Apple Photos. Like Apple Photos, Lightroom is good for organizing photos and editing photos. So I guess there are 3 categories: 1-Apps that are just for organizing photos - Adobe Bridge, Mylio, FileLoupe, others. 2-Apps just for editing photos - Adobe Photoshop, Affinity Photo, Pixelmator Photo, others. 3-Apps that do both - Apple Photos, Google photos, Adobe Elements, Adobe Lightroom Classic, Adobe Lightroom, others. So it’s just a matter of what you need. If you’re just looking for an app to catalog your photos, I would still consider the apps that do both.

Re: adobe. Adobe has a desktop version that uses local storage, Lightroom Classic, and a version that uses cloud storage, Lightroom. (as @nlippman pointed out above.) Adobe explains the differences on their website. They only have a one week trial. I wish Adobe would name the cloud based version Lightroom XYZ, so they would have Lightroom Classic and Lightroom XYZ. Whenever someone is talking about LR, you have to ask them if they mean LR or LR Classic. If you have the cloud based Lightroom and you look at the “About” it states the name as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Sorry if I have made something confusing more so.

Has everyone given up on Photos? Can’t it import from “real” cameras?

I’ve got a monumental organizing task ahead of me soon! To clean up all my photos, tag them and so on. Thinking of getting Davids field guide and/or Jason Snells book.

Reading your responses with great interest. Thanks.

I haven’t given up on Apple Photos. I just need to have my scanned photos separate for now and I really want to use the improved masking feature in LR.

I have. My library size is off by 1000 photos between 2 different Mac’s. The new MBP has still not finished analyzing 80gigs of photos in over 48 hours of time. The bar hasn’t moved in 47 of those hours. And now, every week 3-4 pictures from 10 years ago will suddenly “fail to upload”. I am done.

I did some reading today and pretty much decided on Lightroom Classic. It’s expensive but it sounds like it is the best. They didn’t do a Cyber Monday sale, so I would guess it’s not going to on sale any time soon.