Between digital cameras and especially smartphones, there's been a massive increase in the amount of pictures we have to manage. It's not unusual to have hundreds or even thousands of photos scattered across poorly labeled folders and a dozen different devices. However, bringing order to this chaos doesn't have to be a Sisyphean task. Here are the best free photo management tools to help you organize your image collection.
Google's popular Picasa is a handy freeware app that should cover the needs of most users. Providing a bevy of organizational options, as well as some basic photo-editing tools, you can sort your photos by their file folders or create virtual albums to handle sorting within Picasa itself. You can tag and sort by people or location through Picasa's geotagging options. Crop, resize, rotate, red-eye removal and many other basic editing tools allow you to clean up your images. You can also apply effect filters and other artsy tweaks.
While it might not be as organizationally inclined as Picasa, Zoner Photo Studio Free wins hands down if you're looking to tweak and edit your photos. More than just an organization tool, Zoner Photo Studio is a full-on photo editing suite. You'll find a batch editing feature, quick filters, easy defect correction and more. ZPS also includes tools for making everything from panoramas and calendars.
StudioLine Photo Basic 3 lets you sort the items in your photo collection while also executing simple edits to your snapshots. Editing features let you crop, rotate, resize, add red eye correction, and other touch ups. On the organizing end, Photo Basic 3 includes the ability to add tags, geotagging, and descriptors to images within its database, which can be organized within a folder view. Slideshow and online gallery tools let you easily publish and share your favorite snaps.
JetPhoto Studio 5 has most of the image editing and management tools you need, such as album organization, tagging, and geotagging, but its real selling point is the various ways you can use the app to share your photos. Among the many options included are Flickr, JetPhoto Server, and the ability to create Google Map galleries with geotagged images. You can even quickly generate Flash galleries and slideshows for web design, or viewing through a Flash enabled player or browser.
XnViewMP is a fast, free, image browser and viewer supporting more than 500 image formats. Whether you're sorting ubiquitous .jpg or .png files or sifting through obscure image formats, XnViewMP can probably do the job for you. While it won't slickly organize files for you automatically (like Picasa), XnViewMP has tools for editing image metadata and tags in batch mode, allowing you to quickly spread tags across a mass of images.
FastStone Image Viewer is a useful image viewing tool armed with editing and management features. FastStone comes with a load of editing tools for basic manipulation and fine tuning, while supporting tag creation, EXIF data viewing, and other commenting and sorting options. While FastStone doesn't include social media and cloud storage uploading options, its excellent image viewer, editing features and organizational tools make it a good choice if you keep your photo collection on one PC.
MAGIX Photo Manager 12 is the latest in the MAGIX Photo Manager line, an all-in-one organizing, editing and sharing application. As an organizing tool, you can categorize images in various ways, such as by file name, date, or thematic tags. MAGIX also includes a series of image correction tools. The free version doesn't include such advanced features as panorama montages and automatic image categorization, but overall MAGIX Photo Manager 12 gets the job done.