7 Best Photo Management Software of 2023 (Ranked) 

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to reap the benefits of photo management software, especially if you take tons of photos with your smartphone or film camera.

Professional or not, you probably have hundreds, or even thousands, of digital images stored across your various devices, and finding the one you want is often a hassle.

This is where a good photo organizer software comes in handy.

This tool helps you organize your entire photo collection all in one place. Most of them come with advanced editing options to boot, so you can organize and edit all under one roof.

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What Is the Best Photo Management Software?

1. Adobe Lightroom Classic

Best Overall Photo Management Software for Desktop

Example of Adobe Lightoom Classic photo management software
Image credit: Adobe

Adobe Lightroom is available in two versions: Classic and CC (Creative Cloud).

The main difference between the two is that Lightroom Classic is a desktop app, while Lightroom CC is cloud-based.

While they are similar in many ways, Lightroom Classic is my top pick for the best photo organizing software for Mac or PC.

First, it has a slightly more sophisticated toolset for advanced photo editing. This makes it best for advanced users. 

Second, the storage space is not determined by the cloud but by your computer’s hard drive. Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something comforting about having all of your images stored in one centralized location.

A quick note: if you work across multiple devices, the cloud-based Lightroom CC might make more sense. That’s why it is my No. 2 pick. More on that below.

Key Features

  • Desktop-only version
  • Comprehensive photo organization tools
  • Support for plugins
  • Facial recognition and tagging
  • Camera and lens-based corrections
  • Helps eliminate duplicate images
  • Original files stored locally
  • Advanced photo editing capabilities
  • Clean, streamlined image viewing 
  • Stores files in one centralized location
  • Quickly assess image quality in full-screen mode

Pricing

Lightroom Classic is available as part of the Photography Plan, which includes the cloud version and Adobe Photoshop.

Other pricing plans include a 20GB option for $9.99 per month or 1TB for $19.99 per month.

2. Adobe Lightroom CC

Best Overall Photo Management Software for Cloud

Example of Adobe Lightroom CC with edited photo
Image credit: Adobe

Adobe Lightroom CC is the lighter, more beginner-friendly version of Lightroom Classic. This makes it an incredibly popular photo organizing software.

It’s ideal for people who edit on more than one device. That’s because CC is cloud-based and will sync all of your changes automatically.

For example, you could start editing an image on your iPhone, then finish it up later on your MacBook with all your previous edits intact.

You can also create a web gallery of your digital images, which can be shared with others using a private link. This makes it easy to send albums to friends or people on your team if you’re using it for business.

I love how robust the editing capabilities are. It doesn’t replace Adobe Photoshop, but you can do a lot in Lightroom CC with its advanced tools.

If you have a lot of digital photos, you can enter relevant keywords to make finding them easier. You can also use the Adobe Sensei function, which allows you to search for images without keywords using artificial intelligence technology.

Key Features

  • Support for RAW formats
  • Syncs presets and profiles
  • Wide range of editing tools
  • Sensei AI search
  • Keyword capabilities
  • Shareable web galleries
  • Organize by star ratings
  • Clean, intuitive interface

Pricing

Adobe Lightroom is available in several different pricing plans starting at $9.99 per month.

3. Adobe Bridge

Best Photo Management Software for Organizing

Adobe homepage featuring Bridge
Image credit: Adobe

Adobe Bridge isn’t meant to be an alternative to Lightroom. Though there is overlap in functionality, each serves a different purpose. In fact, they work best when used in conjunction with each other.

Bridge allows you to organize large amounts of image files located at various places on your computer. Think of it as a file browser on steroids.

You can view all kinds of relevant information about each file, sort images by keyword and other metadata, and organize your image folders from a high level.

In this way, Adobe Bridge is a reliable photo organizing software if you work with large collections of images culled from different sources.

It can make the entire process easier if you work with images across multiple Adobe apps simultaneously.

Key Features

  • Visualization of all creative assets in one place
  • Streamlines workflow between various apps
  • Strong organizational capabilities
  • Allows you to find your favorites quickly
  • Can publish to Adobe Portfolio or Adobe Stock from app
  • Integration with Adobe Camera Raw
  • Rename images in bulk
  • Easily create custom albums 
  • Helps eliminate duplicate files

Pricing

Adobe Bridge is free with the other Creative Cloud apps, which start at $9.99 per month.

4. ACDSee Photo Studio Professional

Best Photo Management Software That’s Not Adobe

ACDSee Photo Studio
Image credit: ACDSee

ACDSee Photo Studio Professional is a robust and comprehensive photo organizing software.

Built for professionals, it has powerful editing options, including Advanced Light EQ, Layered Editing, and support for RAW images.

As a photo organizing software, it gives you the ability to add ratings, keyword libraries, tags, categories, location data, and customizable color labels.

The organizational tools make it easy to find what you’re looking for quickly, even if you’re sifting through a folder containing thousands of images.

The performance feels light, unlike some other digital asset management software that is slow and clunky.

You can tell ACDSee cares about its customers because it frequently adds new tools and updates. This is software you can grow with over time.

 Key Features

  • Uses AI to help organize
  • Lets you filter, group, and sort with ease
  • Non-destructive edits to preserve the original image
  • Robust editing tools
  • Camera RAW file support
  • Easy and intuitive user interface
  • Syncs between devices wirelessly
  • SendPix allows for easy image file sharing
  • Advanced editing toolset 

Pricing

ACDSee Photo Studio Professional costs $79.95 for a lifetime license. You can try it out for 30 days free before paying the one-time fee.

5. Magix Photo Manager Deluxe

Best Photo Management Software for Beginners

Magix photo management software
Image credit: Magix

Magix Photo Manager Deluxe is a good option for beginners or non-creative professionals who don’t need the advanced features of Adobe Lightroom and Bridge.

That’s because Magix makes managing all of your digital assets super easy. 

You can import directly from the cloud, then combine with images on your local hard drive. From there, you can sort, rate, and highlight your files for easy access in the future.

If you want, you can share images directly to your social media platforms.

Magix does have some handy editing features if you need to make some minor color adjustments, for example. However, its organizational abilities are the main draw.

If you have thousands of images and want to pull your hair out every time you have to find one of them, a tool like Magix Photo Manager could save you a lot of time.

Key Features

  • Batch processing of metadata
  • Auto sorting and filter functions
  • Helps eliminate duplicate images
  • Wirelessly import via WiFi
  • Ability to share directly to social networks
  • Shortcuts help save time
  • Allows creation of slideshows

Pricing

Magix Photo Manager Deluxe has a 30-day free trial. After that, the basic plan is a one-time payment of $49.99.

6. Google Photos

Best Photo Management Software for Casual Users

Google Photos example
Image credit: Google

Google Photos is a free and easy photo organizer for PC or Mac. It is compatible across many different platforms.

It uses AI to automate much of the organization process. For example, you can tell Google Photos to group images by people’s faces.

The AI technology provides an intuitive way to find the image you are looking for instead of entering relevant keywords for each. In this way, it is one of the best time-saving photo organizers.

Since Google Photos is automatically integrated with your Google account, the import process is super easy. You can do it on your mobile device or computer, and it will automatically create backups on each. 

You can also share albums with friends using a shareable short link, and the person you send it to doesn’t have to be using the app.

Google Photos also has basic editing features, such as color filters and adjustments, which are ideal for basic, non-professional use.

Key Features

  • Automated organization features
  • Supports both photo and video
  • Capable of basic edits
  • Storage management tool
  • Auto backup for photo and video
  • Syncs across multiple devices
  • Searches for photos by what’s in them
  • Interactive timeline
  • Unlimited photos/cloud storage
  • Integration with Google Drive
  • Streamlines import process
  • Automatic photo organizer

Pricing

Google Photos is completely free photo organizing software.

Best Photo Management Software for Those on a Budget

Example of CyberLink PhotoDirector photo management software
Image credit: CyberLink

CyberLink PhotoDirector is a comprehensive photo organizing software that is loaded with advanced features.

If you need more tools than any of the free apps provide, PhotoDirector 365 is a good option at only $3.42 per month on the annual plan.

It has all the basic editing tools, such as levels and curves. You can also do animations, light rays, sky replacement, dispersion effects, etc.

Once you import images, you can organize them in the image library for easy access. You can also make smart collections or organize images by folder, album, or keyword tag.

From there, you can add relevant keywords, copyright info, tag people, and more. Then, you can embed the metadata, so that information is permanently linked to the image.

Key Features

  • Windows and macOS compatible
  • Keywords, smart collections, metadata
  • Hierarchical tagging
  • Slideshow creator with music downloads
  • Access to Shutterstock and iStock
  • 1,900 templates and effects
  • Support for RAW file format
  • Access to premium plugins
  • Uses AI for editing and facial recognition
  • Affordable photo management software
  • Stunning visual effects
  • Beginner-friendly user interface
  • Advanced editing tools
  • Custom albums

Pricing

CyberLink PhotoDirector 365 has a subscription plan that costs $40.00 annually, which equals $3.42 per month.

Conclusion

That concludes my list of the best photo management software system.

To recap, if you are looking for the best photo cataloging software for desktop, I recommend Adobe Lightroom Classic.

If you prefer a cloud-based app, Adobe Lightroom CC is an amazing all-in-one solution

Adobe Bridge is a powerful and affordable organizing solution if you don’t need advanced editing functions.

ACDSee is the best photo organizing software tool outside of Adobe. 

Magix Photo Manager is a beginner-friendly photo organization app.

Google Photos is the best free photo cataloging software. It is an excellent image organization app for casual users.

Finally, CyberLink PhotoDirector is the best option for those on a tight budget.

Whether you are a creative professional, a business owner, or just a casual user, I hope you found this guide helpful.

FAQ

What is the best way to keep track of your photos?

Creating unique and descriptive filenames is one of the best ways to keep track of your photos.

Including the year, subject, and location in the filename helps you find images faster because the keyword is part of the image.

For example, this could look like 2022_SanFrancisco_Presidio_001, _002, and so on. 

In addition, a logical and heirarchical folder structure can help you keep track of your images over time.

What is photo management software?

Whether you are a zine creator, a fine art photographer, or make tokens, chances are you have a ton of images that have accumulated over time.

No one wants to spend hours scrolling through their phone trying to find a vacation picture from five years ago.

It is even more critical to find the images you are looking for quickly from a business perspective. 

Photo organizing software solves this problem.

Ultimately, the “best” choice depends on what makes sense for you. However, here are some standard features to look out for.

Organization

The best photo organization app will allow you to scroll through your entire image library, see where each file is located, and sort through them in various ways.

It should have adjustable view modes, allowing you to see images as a thumbnail, full-size, or simply a collection of data points, depending on what you need at that given time.

It should give you different ways to search. For example, it should let you sort through thousands of images in seconds using color labels, keywords, ratings, folders, or filenames.

You should also be able to assign metadata to your images, including relevant info such as location, date, name, title, description, or copyright holder.

Another important thing to look out for is the ability to make PDF contact sheets. Import/export options are a critical part of your workflow, so a good photo management tool won’t skimp in this area.

Finally, it will allow you to create virtual albums and recreate folder structures from inside the program. For example, if you run out of disk space, you can reallocate batches of images to a different drive to make room.

Editing

Many photo management tools now have advanced editing features. These can range from the basic editing features to the more advanced.

On one end of the spectrum, you have apps like Google Photos, which allows you to make quick edits using effects, crop, rotate, flip, and more. For most casual users, this is more than enough. 

On the other side, you have programs like Adobe Lightroom Classic, which includes a professional-grade suite of tools for more experienced users. You can adjust exposure, contrast, shadows, white balance, sharpness, noise, etc.

Ultimately, the option for additional editing is better as it streamlines your workflow. An all-in-one photo manager saves time because you don’t have to constantly switch back and forth between apps.

Metadata

Metadata is one of the most crucial components of digital asset management software. It allows you to search for images via text elements such as words and numbers.

When dealing with large amounts of images numbering in the thousands, metadata becomes an essential component of your workflow.

Everyday users can probably get away without using metadata in their image libraries, but creative professionals (including graphic designers) should consider metadata as a key feature that can save both time and money.  

Artifical Intelligence

Many SaaS companies now incorporate artificial intelligence into their products, and photo organizing software is no exception.

One common AI feature is facial recognition, which helps you find people quicker in a vast library of images.

From my experience, AI can be hit-or-miss. However, the technology constantly improves and will continue to get better over time.

Importing and Exporting

More features to consider are the import and export options.

While cloud-based software is becoming the norm, importing files from your desktop is still an important feature. You don’t want the program to crash every time you import a large batch of files.

The software should support numerous file formats, including JPG, PNG, TIFF, RAW, PDF, GIF, DOC, etc.

It should also give you various export options, whether it’s a link, PDF, or directly to a social platform.

User Interface

The UI/UE of advanced photo management programs is often overlooked. Still, we all want a simple interface that looks great and is easy to use.

Adobe Lightroom excels in this respect, which is part of the reason why it sits at the top of the list. Navigating through it feels light and snappy, even when dealing with large files, and even though it is packed with features, the workspace doesn’t feel cluttered.

What are the benefits of adding tags?

Tags can be useful for locating specific images within a large database. Like other metadata, they are used for organizing and sorting photos based on subject, location, date, and keyword.

Is Apple Photos good for organizing?

Apple Photos is an easy way to organize your images based on date and location. You can also create smart albums of your favorite images or organize them into folders manually.

One of the most useful features of Apple Photos is that it will sync your image library across all Apple devices. Not having to upload new images manually is a huge timesaver.

The app’s simplicity is carried over into the photo editing tools, which can perform basic tasks such as cropping and rotating. You are better off with a program like Adobe Lightroom for additional image editing features.

Further Reading

Choosing photo management software is only half the battle. For it to run effectively, you need a computer with plenty of RAM, storage, and processing power. I go over this in my guide for the best laptops for Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.