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A File-Centric Photo Manager? 326

JeremyDuffy writes "I have a photo project of over 7,000 photos. I want to tag them based on location, time of day, who's in them, etc. Doing this by hand one at a time through the Windows 7 interface in Explorer is practically madness. There has to be a better way. Is there a photo manager that can easily group and manage file tags? And most importantly, something that stores the tag and other data (description etc.) in the file, not just a database? I don't care if the thing has a database, but the data must be in the file so when I upload the files to the Internet, the tags are in place."
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A File-Centric Photo Manager?

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  • by Bruce Dawson ( 1079221 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @07:08PM (#32559562)
    It stores the information in the images, as it should, and it maintains a database for fast access. And it's free.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by molecular ( 311632 )

      can't seem to find linux-version

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13, 2010 @07:35PM (#32559748)

        can't seem to find linux-version

        He doesn't want a GPL Linux version because if he uses it, his photos become derivative works and therefore he loses all ownership of his photos, his camera, his computer, and everything that he photographed becomes GPL'd which means, if the guy photographed his girlfriend, all of the FOSS community has to sleep with her.

        Mods, this is a fight between Trolls, go mod something worthwhile.

        • by pipatron ( 966506 ) <> on Sunday June 13, 2010 @07:49PM (#32559834) Homepage
          You mean like how everything he films with his camera will become covered under the MPEG-LA patents and thus forbidden to share? Too bad I'm not trolling, like you. :(
          • You mean like how everything he films with his camera will become covered under the MPEG-LA patents and thus forbidden to share?

            What the hell are you talking about?

            MPEG LA doesn't forbid sharing of anything.

            MPEG LA collects royalties on the big green - large scale - for-profit - commercial sale and distribution.

            2 cents per disk or download for the H.264 distribution of Toy Story 3.

            • Its an analogy.

            • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @09:48PM (#32560430)

              >MPEG LA doesn't forbid sharing of anything.

              Yes, it DOES.

              If you have enough "subscribers" if you do not charge per download (over 100,000) you MUST PAY A LICENSE FEE. And these fees are much steeper than Over-The-Air video, because the Internet is somehow special.

              If you make video LONGER THAN 12 MINUTES and distribute it you must pay 2% royalties *or* 2 cents per movie, whichever is greater. If your home movie becomes popular and is more than 12 minutes and you have not paid your two cents per download (even if you do not charge for it!) and they take notice of it, you will soon see the sky blacken with lawyers.

              Beyond participation fees for indirect revenue (revenue not directly from the user), MPEG LA also sets out amounts for title-by-title (rental or per-view). For videos less than 12 minutes long, there is no royalty; but for videos beyond 12 minutes in length, the amounts are decided at 2% of the retail price paid to the licensee or 2 cents per title. The retail price is specifically noted as a "first arms length" transaction, specifically between the end user and the seller of on-demand, pay-per-view, and electronic downloads to end users.

              If your video is longer than 12 minutes, MPEG-LA has its hooks in your content whether you like it or not. Even if it's a home movie of your kids that is 13 minutes long, you owe MPEG-LA money if you "broadcast" it over the Internet. Even if you give it away, the minimum charge is 2 cents per download as described above.



              • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
                just convert the file to a format not owned by MPEG LA
                • by Skreems ( 598317 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @10:14PM (#32560572) Homepage
                  Doesn't matter. The file was encoded using their codecs when it was initially captured by your video camera. Unless you own one of the 3 models that use motion JPEG to capture, the licensing terms in the software encoder used by your hardware dictate that you pay them this royalty regardless of the codec you use to distribute.

                  Fun, huh?
                • by bmo ( 77928 )

                  >just convert the file to a format not owned by MPEG LA

                  That's not how it works.


                • by AusIV ( 950840 )

                  I saw something a while back that suggested even that is insufficient, if they can demonstrate your camera filmed the video using an MPEG-LA covered technology. I don't think they've ever pursued such a case, but when you purchase a camera that records with MPEG-LA covered technology, your patent license sets limits on the content you record with it, regardless of what format it ends up in.

                  Personally, I'm hoping for some cameras that record WebM in the near future (of course, this hope hinges on the hope th

              • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @11:27PM (#32560934)

                SUMMARY OF AVC/H.264 LICENSE TERMS []

                Retail sale - disk or download:

                where an end user pays directly for video services on a title-by-title basis...royalties for video greater than 12 minutes (there is no royalty for a title 12 minutes or less) are..the lower of 2% of the price paid to the
                Licensee (on first arms length sale of the video) or $0.02 per title

                Subscription services:

                Where an end user pays directly for video services on a subscription-basis (not ordered or limited title-by-title), the applicable royalties...payable by the service or content provider are...100,000 or fewer subscribers during the year = no royalty; greater than 100,000 to 250,000 subscribers during the year = $25,000; greater than 250,000 to 500,000 subscribers during the year = $50,000; greater than 500,000 to 1,000,000 subscribers during the year = $75,000; greater than 1,000,000 subscribers during the year =$100,000.


                Where remuneration is from other sources, in the case of free television [over-the-air, satellite and/or cable transmission]...which is not paid for by an End User), the licensee [the broadcaster] may pay...according to one of two royalty options: (i) a one-time payment of $2,500 per AVC transmission encoder...or (ii) annual fee per Broadcast Market starting at $2,500 per calendar year per Broadcast Markets of at least 100,000 but no more than 499,999 television households

                In the case of Internet broadcast (AVC video that is delivered via the Worldwide Internet to an end user for which the end user does not pay..for the right to receive or view, i.e., neither title-by-title nor subscription), there will be no royalty during the first term of the License (ending December 31, 2010) and following term (ending December 31, 2015), after which the royalty shall be no more than the economic equivalent of royalties payable during the same time for free television.

                The enterprise cap

                In the case of the...sublicenses for video content or service providers, the maximum annual royalty ("cap") for an enterprise (commonly controlled legal entities) is...$5 million per year in 2010.

                Renewable five-year license

                License will be renewable for five-year periods...on reasonable terms and conditions which may take into account prevailing market conditions, changes in technological environment and available commercial products at the time, but for the protection of licensees, royalty rates applicable to specific license grants or specific
                licensed products will not increase by more than ten percent (10%) at each renewal

                To sum up:

                If you are worth less than $2500 to MPEG LA they don't want to hear from you.

                [Retail sale of 125,000 Trek Wars disks @ 2 cents a disk]

                Under the existing formula, the licensing cost to Apple, Disney, Microsoft or Google for hosting freely distributed H.264 video on the Internet would be capped at $5 million a year.

                Chicken feed.

                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by bmo ( 77928 )

                  How does that refute anything I've said?

                  A self-hosted file, if it becomes popular, even if it's free, will cost you .02 per download.

                  There are many people on YouTube with more than 1,000,000 viewers per title, so this is not some figure I pulled out of my ass. Since YouTube absorbs these costs because they host, it doesn't matter to the people who upload videos like KeyboardCat. However, you are completely unprotected if you self-host. Should you be creative enough that something go viral, you are on the

              • by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Monday June 14, 2010 @12:30AM (#32561198)

                Well, thankfully some (quite a lot actually) of us live in "communist" countries, where such blatant attempts at blackmail will be laughed out of court.

                Some of us even live in countries, where the lawyer representing the MPEG-LA is likely to have his or her knuckles used as target practice for the judge's gavel.

                See - not only did we not sign any contract with the MPEG-LA, nor do software patents apply, but if we've bought a product in good faith, any patent breach that might apply is going to fall on the head of the manufacturer, i.e. the company that made the camera - not us. And since any camera that can record video is designed to ... what's the term ... record video, we will always be in good faith, even if we record more than 12 minutes and turn it into a movie.

                But hey - if that means we can't publish or visit the US without getting sued in the US - well, that's their loss, not ours.

            • Whooosh.

              (that was the joke passing by...)

            • by Macrat ( 638047 )

              MPEG LA collects royalties on the big green - large scale - for-profit - commercial sale and distribution.

              Once those MPEG LA patented formatted files on your blog get popular and reach download numbers to attract the attention of the MPEG LA lawyers, you'll get a bill. Doesn't have to be commercial.

        • by Psion ( 2244 )
          GPL doesn't work like that.
        • It's for the best (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bigtrike ( 904535 )

          He'll know much more quickly if there's a virus or backdoor, as someone in the community is likely to discover it first.

    • by zuperduperman ( 1206922 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @07:47PM (#32559818)


      It's really a fascinating indicator of the situation Microsoft is in that they are so scared to include or promote basic photo gallery features in Win7 that people like this are completely unaware it exists.

      For my money I like it much better than Picasa for the simple reason that it treats your photos *as files* rather than as a *database*. I got completely fed up with Picasa *pretending* it had modified my files when it had really only made changes in it's own database. Then you give photos to someone else and you find Picasa never really applied any of your changes. Or worse, you ditch Picasa and find out that years of long hard work is gone because Picasa was privately storing all that information (even things like rotations, cropping, etc.). (Yes, I know it has some option somewhere to turn this off. I resent the fact they make it the default).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nerdposeur ( 910128 )
        I *like* the fact that the changes aren't saved in the file immediately - it gives me infinite undo, even months later. And if I click the save icon on a folder, it *does* save the changes in the files, and makes backups, too. Best of both worlds, I think.
      • OP needs an app that supports reading and writing IPTC metadata. Pretty straightforward.

        Parent is right that Picasa has inconsistent and proprietary behavior. It uses INI files in each folder that store most of the developing and album information in plaintext. So you can tweak and recover that to a certain degree. But it has a separate database for caption data. If you make a caption change and commit changes to disk, the captions are not updated in the JPG or the INI. (AFAIK)

        I use Adobe Lightroom for

        • by namalc ( 66960 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @10:55PM (#32560786)

          Picasa doesn't store its tagging info locally in each directory; this information is put in the "Program Files"

          I'm often surprised by how few people understand how Picasa really works, as this is not the case.

          Any potentially 'destructive' changes to a photo are stored in a picasa.ini file in each folder. These changes include rotations, cropping, sharpen, etc. When you view a photo in picasa, it displays with all these changes applied. You can undo a change at any time. Changes are NOT applied to the file on disk until you press 'save'.
          To be clear, there is no magic, hidden, or proprietary database; it's just a simple per-directory picasa.ini file. As for backups, if you've backed up the directory including the picasa.ini file, then any non-saved changes will be backed up.

          Non-destructive changes, such as captions or tags, are applied immediately to the photo. Again, to be clear, these are applied directly to the photo and can be read by any other photo tool that can read exif data.

          The one exception to this is the recently introduced face tagging feature. Unfortunately, Google really messed up with their implementation of this feature. Facial tags are stored in a combination of the picasa.ini file & a central database. I've found the implementation to be quite poor, and I would not recommend using this feature.

      • That’s also why I ditched everything that tries to tag files without actually using the file system to do it.
        Including Amarok and Nepomuk. But especially Amarok.

        Modern file systems have soft and hard links! Which make your tree into a graph, and allow you to put files in multiple directories. Just like with tags.
        Use ’em!

        Right now I’m moving to a full ontology in a graph as my choice of main data structure for the “file system”. It’s such a obvious choice that I can only e

  • Lightroom (Score:5, Informative)

    by SolidAltar ( 1268608 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @07:09PM (#32559578)

    Adobe Lightroom is pretty awesome. Has a free trial. Check it out.
    Picasa by Google is pretty good, too. Free.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SpeedyDX ( 1014595 )

      Lightroom, Picasa, Bibble Pro, practically anything on any OS works.

      There's an "export version" or similarly named option on almost all modern photo managers that will create a new copy of the selected photo(s) with all of the changes embedded in the new file. It sounds like Mr. Duffy is just making changes in his photo manager, and then trying to upload the original file rather than using the "export version" option. The database system used by most photo managers is to help you preserve Masters of your ph

  • Google Picassa (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bizzeh ( 851225 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @07:10PM (#32559584) Homepage

    Google Picassa is actually quite good at everything you asked for, and, it has face recognition, so once you tag one face, it generally recognises most of the images of the same person for you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I second Picasa, and it works fine under Wine too.

    • Yep. Picasa's amazing. And free. And it stores most of its stuff inside the actual file, exceptions being face tags and effects (until you export the files).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by the_womble ( 580291 )

        Its not free, its proprietary.

        Yes, I know what you mean, but the point needs to be made in case anyone thinks its open source.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Picasa would be a wonderful solution for pictures that are stored on only one computer, which is is running either Windows or Mac OS X. I've tried to setup Picasa 3.6, through wine, on Linux. The interface is wonderful, but there are two shortcomings that are dealbreakers, in my mind :

      1. Any tagging you've done cannot be synced the to other computers. Picasa doesn't store its tagging info locally in each directory; this information is put in the "Program Files". You can, presumably, backup your collectio
      • by Cwix ( 1671282 )
        Theres a LINUX version of Picasa.. why does everyone use wine?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by namalc ( 66960 )

        Picasa doesn't store its tagging info locally in each directory; this information is put in the "Program Files"

        Um, no. Regular Picasa tags are stored in the file directly using the EXIF information. The exception is the facial tagging; that indeed is stored in the proprietary database.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by stephanruby ( 542433 )
        Forget Picasa, I have a Windows machine, and I don't even use it. I do everything on PicasaWeb. PicasaWeb also works quite well for batch tagging work. Plus, I have filters on my gmail that directly email pictures from other relatives for immediate storage into PicasaWeb.
    • Thank you for bringing to my attention yet one more downside to having identical twins!
  • fototagger (Score:5, Informative)

    by epedersen ( 863120 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @07:10PM (#32559588)
  • There is only one choice ... ... per OS.

    Windows: Picasa
    Linux: F-Spot
    OS X: iPhoto

    I've used all three and with the inclusion of "free" they are, in my not so humble opinion, the best option for each platform.

  • folders, arguments and wildcards?

    Sheesh. Get with the 1970s technology already ;)

    • I agree putting that into the file isn't wise. If for no other reason than it makes verifying the images much harder. Well that and adding a chance to corrupt the files.
  • Try Mapivi (Score:4, Informative)

    by Demosthenex ( 513513 ) <{demo} {at} {}> on Sunday June 13, 2010 @07:21PM (#32559668) Homepage

    I've been searching for the same feature set, a file centric image manager whose metadata is stored exclusively in the file.

    One of the best ones I have found is Mapivi: []

    I still often use Digikam, but its metadata support is inconsistent at best. On the other hand the front end is more useable than Mapivi.

    You should also look at ExifTool, because you can manipulate and query metadata with it on the command line. []

    If you find a solution, please share!

  • by techmuse ( 160085 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @07:22PM (#32559676)

    OS X comes with a graphical scripting tool called Automator. You can set up a batch file rename script with it that will rename every photo in a folder of your choice with the date and time added to the file name, plus a sequence number, and any other text if you desire. I used it to rename over 8000 photos originally named img_xxxx in 2 or 3 minutes.

    So just copy them onto a Mac, run the Automator script on them, and copy them back.

    • Windows does that since XP. Select all photos, rename one to "whatever". They'll be renamed to "whatever (1).jpg", "whatever (2).jpg", etc.

      Do you really need to write a batch file in MacOSX? Lame.

      • That's not what the original poster is asking. They want to rename the files using the time, date, and location metadata in the file itself, rather than ordering them sequentially.

        No, you don't need to write a batch file. Automator is graphical. You drag the operations you want into the sequence you want them and click play and it runs. []

  • I just use Gnome's filesystem manager called nautilus, it supports tagging and commenting filesystem files. Filenames and tags are then indexed by "tracker" which has a multitude of client interfaces and applets for searching the indexed data. I always find my fotos easily by this way.

    The fotos are stored in a organized collection which the only backends are the regular filesystem and gvfs. On my collection's toplevel directory I put every event prefixed by its date:

  • by retardpicnic ( 1762292 ) <> on Sunday June 13, 2010 @07:41PM (#32559778)
    What you really need to do is this. Buy a couple plaid shirts, some black socks and some Birks but make sure you pay a lot for them. Get some capri pants at the GAP (make sure you pay full price). Next, get some patchouli scented shave lotion and a Mac(don't will pay full price for this and we have begun. Go home set up your make and get changed, you are now a Mac owner! You will find that tagging, sorting,arranging via meta data is easy. Its living that has become hard. Now you must tag everything using iambic pantameter and haiku. Instead of tagging things buy the current dating system use what day of the BP disaster it is. If your wife asks you what you are doing, try to be condescending... no one understands you anymore but steve. While tagging your photos try to use the words postmodern and neo a lot. it will begin to feel natural soon... Good luck! A new mac user| so fragile and delicate| like leaves on a breeze
  • by TheNetAvenger ( 624455 ) on Sunday June 13, 2010 @07:48PM (#32559824) []

    Install Windows Live PhotoGallery from the Windows Live Essentials. This is exactly what it is designed for and can do smart tagging.

    Even though Win7 doesn't install the 'Essentials' applications, they really are 'Essential' to get the most out of Windows7. There is also a download link for them in the Start Menu, and you can pick and choose what you want easily.

    Doing all your tagging via Explorer is functional, but not the optimal way of dealing with Photos in Windows 7. In Photogallery you just drag and drop to tag photos or use the face identification system.

    (The June beta of the next generation of Live Essentials and PhotoGallery should be along soon as well with several new tricks that pulls in several of the MS Photo R&D work.)

    *Don't waste your time with 'Album' or other tagging software that shoves your photos into their file structure, which is a LOT of them.

  • Iphoto, picassa, lightroom, aperture.

    Besides finding bits of useful metadata in exif, filename, date, and content, the biggest issue will be able to wade through the data quickly and in human time.

    Lightroom is available for Beta. If you have the images, try it with say Picasso. This should give you a good enough feeling as to whether you should pay for it.

    But products like lightroom and aperture are exactly designed for your problem.

  • by jafo ( 11982 ) * on Sunday June 13, 2010 @08:14PM (#32559962) Homepage
    I was recently wanting to do something similar. I decided on using the open source Digikam software (which may not be an option for you under Windows), because it has powerful photo management functionality, but also because it stores tags and more all as XMP data directly within my JPEG file.

    There is work being done to do face recognition to tag people in photos, one of the things that is taking most of the time for me.

    My application was a custom photo-blog, with some neat tag-based features (like "show me the pictures taken at this person's house that have this oher person it them").

    So, I tag them in digikam, do cropping and comments, and then save the image. I then wrote some Python programs to check this data for consistency, and to load the data into a database for the web server. The web server also has the ability to edit tags and comments, so I then have code to, once reviewed, write these changes out to the XMP meta-data.

    But, the photos themselves are the authoritative source for this information. If I lost the database, no problem. The photos are the authoritative source for all that information.

    Oh, I forgot to mention that one of the tools in the upload chain is to get rid of albums and instead encode it in the file with a tag called something like "Blog/Group/$UUID_STRING". It also saves off the "album thumbnail" in a similar way ("Blog/Group/IsAlbumThumbnail").

    It's worked extremely well.

    I use the command-line "exiv2" program to export and import the XMP data as XML, then I process it (the parts mentioned above) as XML.
  • Yes it costs money, but it does a ton of things. It keeps a database for your tags/whatever but you can have it apply any and all info it knows about your pictures to the EXIF/IPTC fields. There's a ton of scriptability and you can export the DB to tons of formats (and define your own format). Hey just looked at the website and it supports XMP as well (another metadata in the file thing). []

    No I get nothing for this (haven't even looked to see if I could). Satisfied customer.

  • Photo Mechanic []. It's what the pros use to do exactly what you're asking for.
  • I recently read on one of my photography forums that if you convert your raw files to Adobe's DNG (digital negative) format that subsequent tagging and edits will end up in Lightroom's database and NOT in the image file. If, on the other hand, you stay with the original raw file Lightroom will write the changes out to an XMP (side-car) file that is at least under your control and not dependent on Lightroom's database.

    If anyone has some additional info on this I'd be glad to hear it.


  • IView Media Pro did it all, then MSFT bought them, named it Microsoft Expression Media, and just recently sold it to Phase One.

    Who knows if that product will evert live again. At least phase One is always in the right field for this product.

  • Looked into jBrout? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aklinux ( 1318095 ) [] Cross platform. Claims to have been tested on GNU/Linux and Windows XP/2K. Been meaning to try it as my own photo collection is starting to get a little unwieldy, but haven't done so yet.

FORTRAN is the language of Powerful Computers. -- Steven Feiner