Image management for my common workflow


I have looked at a lot of image management programs, though not all of them, and been surprised that none match what I think should be a very common workflow. Sure, they all let you browse your photos and thumbnails of them, move them around, and rename them. And some let you do the functions I describe but usually doing them to a lot of photos is cumbersome because they only have a slow mouse interface or a poor keyboard interface.

Here's what I want to do, and right now use a combination of programs to make happen.

  1. First, pick the "potential winners" from a set of photos. That means letting me with a single keystroke copy the selected photo or mark it for later copying to a directory of the best shots I will actually put on the web. Two keystrokes here is two many. This must be done from full-screen view, not from thumbnails or reduced views. You can only truly judge a winner in full screen view. Thus, in this view, we should have basic movement on keys (space for next photo, backspace for previous is common) and a keystroke to tag/copy and go to the next, or at least to tag/copy and then I will hit space for the next. A way to go back and undo it would be nice. xzgv almost does this.
  2. Then scan the winners again and remove the duplicates. Often you will have 2 or 3 good shots of a subject that all were potential winners. So now it's time to quickly delete (no confirmations here, these are just copies) the other candidates and leave the winner. Quick switch between full screen view and a multi-photo view is a plus here.
    Because serious photographers take several shots of everything interesting, scanning for the winner often involves comparison with the other shots in the photo sequence. A perfect UI for this is hard, though a clever program could spot images bunched together in time or even (with advanced algorithms) similar in composition. A strip of thumbnails to get a sense of all the shots of an item while picking the one winner would be good. A quick switch to a tiled view of all the potential winners at maximum size, with a way to pick the winner (here mouse click makes sense) also could be good. This ability is of use not just in duplicate scanning but also initial winner picking. I tend to find that I will see an image, tag it as a winner, then move on to next image to notice the next one is even better. It would be nice to know in advance that might be so (thus the thumbnail strip.)
  3. Once I have the winners, put them into categories. Create a series of named directories, and quickly move the photos into them. Here's where a traditional thumbnail browswer which lets you select multiple photos and move them works well. Most programs do this step OK.
  4. Once I have the winners in categories, caption them. Again, it should be really fast. View photo (at least 1/4 screen size, not a thumbnail) and type in the caption. Then a single keystroke to go to next photo to caption it. Caption should go into jpeg caption, or a simple file that can be worked with later. ACDsee comes close to doing this but they use ugly keystrokes.
  5. Next, order them for presentation on a web page. Not necessarily by date or sequence number or caption.
  6. Finally, generate a web gallery or slide show based on the order and captions and sorting. Or, in my case leave available the data for my own scripts to do this.

Some programs as I note, come close. However often they use cumbersome keys (alt keys and ctrl-keys when regular letters would do) or they require confirmations on frequently performed acts (useless as you quickly learn to automatically confirm, just wasting your time and providing now protection.)

But does any system do all this, for linux or windows? Let me know.


Have you tried Infanview for Windows? (

It's free and does 1 - 4 the way you want it, after which the main task is done and you can do tasks 5 and 6 is some other application...

Preferences allow you to turn off the confirmations.

1. After you defined the COPY default directory, F8 will copy the image. Space and Backspace navigate.

2. Press T for thumbnails. Define a thumbnail size of 300x300. Press delete on any /multiple marked image. They're gone (to the bin or forever - you choose in prefs).

3. Move with F7 - you should have the confirmations on for move - and you get to select the directory. You can define 10 folders you want to sort to.

4. Captions = Filename? Then press F2 and type ahead. The extension of the file will not be harmed.

The Author is open to suggestions so you might get him to include a sorting function into the programm....
it has a powerful scripting engine built in (similar to visual basic) so you can program keys to do whatever you want.

Another vote for and IMatch. Not only does it have scripting, it also supports XML import/export of metadata, plus a configurable database where you can fine-tune the metadata you want for each photo. It's a stunning piece of work for $60. I wish it ran on Linux.

iPhoto, anyone? Aperture?

I have not tried these as I don't have a Mac. Macs are great BSD boxes but they are twice the price.

Just wondering if you've you've found anything since you first published this entry. Also, have you looked at Bibble Pro ( It has some really good features for selection/processing, and runs on Linux/Mac/Windows.

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