Image Browsing and Management Utilities
The computer world has not really settled on one name for image browsing and management utilities. These can be called image cataloguing software, photo managers, viewing software, photography file managers, or image organizers. Yet all these terms describe the same kind of software.
To make things more complicated, many image browsing and management utilities have also added a number of image editing tools, so that you can make basic corrections in your photographs. Yet image browsing and management software is primarily dedicated to one specialized task, the job of organizing and working with your photographs.
Like all file management software, a specialized image program will allow you to view a list of files in a folder and copy, move, rename, and delete files. Unlike other management software, it can limit the files listed to only image files and can display much more information about each file, such as the pixel dimensions and comments you have made. You can view the files as small thumbnails and in addition see individual files in large windows within the program as you simply push a down arrow to the next file in the file list. Or you can view them full frame and flip through them by holding down the spacebar. In short, you can scroll through images very rapidly and view them in any mode you choose. This kind of utility also has built-in safety features to help you avoid overwriting pictures with the same name, while you rapidly sort through your photos and organize them with just a few key strokes.
However, if you do not want a specialized organizing program, but instead want software that will do it all, Adobe Photoshop Elements is the most popular all-purpose photo software on the market. It will allow you to organize, edit, share, and print your photos within one easy-to-use program and is highly recommended.
A photo management program has many added features for visual file management. In addition to standard file information, it can list the compression ratio, the uncompressed size, and the color depth. Because these programs are specialized for images, they can read and view just about any kind of image file ever made. In addition, they can often convert one kind of file to another with the Save As command. Many even offer batch conversions. This means you can select a number of files that can then be converted all at one time into another picture file format.
Your editing software should definitely include a lossless JPEG rotation feature. This means that you can turn a horizontal into a vertical with no loss in quality. While just about any software can rotate an image, it takes special software to do this so no image quality is taken away.
When you are sorting though hundreds of images, it is easy to make mistakes. With image management software, you can set an option so that the program asks you each time you try to overwrite a file while at the same time offering a full display of both images along with their creation date and size. This way you can be certain that you want to replace an existing file. It will even allow you the option of saving a new file that has the same name with an automatic new name so that you can keep both the old file and the new file. If you don't want this feature, you can shut it off. These programs can also read meta information, metadata, or EXIF info that is encoded into some JPEG and TIFF files. This allows you to keep information such as the shutter speed and f-stop used to take the photograph.
Most good programs allow you to customize the look and feel of the software to fit your style. You can view or hide a full listing of details about each file or thumbnail or icon and sort according to each. If you enter a text description, you can sort by the text you included. The program also makes it very easy to set or remove image file associations for picture file formats. Many image management programs even include a batch renaming feature so you can rename hundreds of selected files at a time in any manner you choose.
You can also launch another program from within an image management program so that the selected photo opens in the new program. Additionally, you can drag and drop pictures into another image editing program. For more about combining two programs in this way, see Chapter 15.