5 of the Best Free Photo Management Tools

Smartphones and compact digital cameras have drastically changed the way news and other content is produced, distributed, and consumed. Anyone who happens to be in the right place at the right time can obtain photographic evidence of things that would otherwise never make it into the public eye.

Of course, the reality is that most of the photos we take end up stashed away on a hard drive and are rarely seen unless we actually need one of them and are forced to sort through endless folders with vague names like “Phonepics10.”

The best solution is a good photo management tool, and while you could certainly purchase one, many of the free tools are just as effective.

Following are five photo management tools that will help you organize, edit, and most of all enjoy your many photos.

1. PicasaPicasa Photo Management

Picasa has become one of the most popular photo management tools, and not just because it’s free.

It’s easy to use, covers all your basic photo management needs, and best of all; it makes sharing photos and albums through Google and Google+ far more efficient.

Picasa takes all the photos that are strewn throughout your hard drive, PC, memory cards and other devices, and makes them easily accessible in one location. You can also access the photos on your computer from other devices, as long as they have access to Google.

Tagging and organizing photos can be done by location, date or even facial recognition, and you’ll have access to basic editing features like cropping, resizing, rotating, and more.

2. Windows Live Essentials: Photo GalleryWindows Live Photo Gallery

This photo management tool by Microsoft may not have all the features that the more advanced photographers may want, but for most photo enthusiasts it has all the essentials.

Users can upload their photos from folders, devices or directories, share them easily to social networks, create themed slideshows, and organize photos by date, tags, captions or other information.

Photo Gallery has all the basic editing features; from changing alignment, exposure, and color settings to removing red eye, retouching and adding creative color effects.

One unique feature is the ability to stitch a series of photos together to create a panorama, or fuse a few pictures together to create one photo that combines the best aspects of each shot. This is particularly handy for group photos, where at least one person is always blinking or looking the wrong way.

3. Magix Photo ManagerMagix Photo Manager

Magix Photo Manager has all the usual sharing and organizing features, but one unique aspect that most photographers will appreciate is the ability to sort photos by thematic categories, such as night scenes or beach photos, and you can even manually create your own categories.

A star rating system allows you to mark certain photos as more important than others or indicate which ones still need editing. It also supports unprocessed (RAW) images from 400 different camera models.

Other features include basic editing and photo enhancement, archiving, online photo albums, and slideshows and videos.

4. Faststone Image ViewerFaststone Image Viewer

For photo enthusiasts who aren’t too interested in social media or cloud storage and would prefer to keep everything on one computer, Faststone Image Viewer is a good option.

It has an image viewer with a full screen mode and hidden toolbars that only become visible when the mouse touches the edge of the screen. This makes it the perfect tool for anyone who wants to spend time browsing their photo collections, but isn’t interested in too many additional frills.

5. PhotothecaPhototheca Platform

Phototheca puts less emphasis on editing and focuses primarily on the organization of photo collections. If you already have a good photo editing program, but are looking for a better way to organize your photos for easy access, this might be your best bet.

Photos can be tagged with specific keywords, and you can create and populate events or albums, filter photos by camera or date, and correct photo timestamps.

Phototheca even allows you to password protect the photos that you would rather keep private.
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