With smartphone cameras becoming more powerful than ever, 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 10 of the best free photo management tools for desktop computers to help you organize your image collection. (Image Credit: Redpixel PL/Shutterstock)
Adobe Bridge serves as a digital assets management platform for Adobe's Creative Cloud suite of programs, and what many don't know is that Bridge is available to use freely, without requiring a paid subscription at any tier of Creative Cloud. Like a file manager on steroids, Adobe Bridge lets you sort through your image folders, with powerful tagging, rating, batch processing and metadata tools to organize your photos. A photo downloader tool also simplifies importing photos from your digital camera, card reader, or mobile device, complete with batch renaming and sorting options. It's a powerful pro tool for working with a ton of photos, whether on its own or as part of the bigger Creative Cloud suite, though it might be overkill if you just want to work on a few holiday snapshots.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Bridge, Google offers cloud-based, automatic backups of your photo directories with the Google Backup and Sync app, in combination with the search giant's Google Photos service. You can set Backup and Sync to automatically watch particular folders and upload them to your Google Photos account, where they're displayed in a timeline view, with an AI-powered Assistant feature for organizing albums and recommending photos to archive. It's a bit more hands-off, but for automatic cloud backups, Google's approach is a great option offering unlimited backup storage for your photos.
StudioLine Photo Basic 4 is the free version of StudioLine's photo editing and management software, providing a media viewer, and editing tools for basics like cropping, rotation, resizing, red-eye correction and other touch-ups. On the organizing end, Photo Basic 4 includes the ability to add tags, 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.