Pixa: Organizing Image Clutter the Smart Way

There are many tools available for organizing bits of information on your Mac, but if your goal is to get a grip on those many images and screenshots you assembled, there’s a new player on the horizon you should check out.

Pixa is a companion app for all designers and graphic artists who scavenge the web for inspiration and images of all kinds and then lose track of them on their hard drives. With Pixa, a whole new level of organizing your image files is possible.

Pixa – The Smarter iPhoto for Image Clippings

Pixa for Mac is an image organizing app, but while it is even easier to use than iPhoto in certain aspects, it’s not really meant for your average photo library. Instead, Pixa helps you to keep track of screenshots, icons, Dribbble shots and other inspirational or creative work that you store on your hard drive.

There’s nothing that will stop you from putting your photographs in there as well, but that’s just not what the app was intented to do. iPhoto, with its importing capabilities and Photo Stream integration, or Lightroom or Aperture are much more suited to handle that.

As a designer, I quite often surf the web to get some inspiration. If I find something, I have bookmarked it until now or dragged it into Little Snapper (which is a screenshot app, originally, but can also help with organizing images), but tagging them was painstaking and not really fun. Now, I can simply drag everything into Pixa and the app, which is still in beta status at the moment, will do the work for me.

Pixa helps your organize all your image snippets

Pixa helps your organize all your image snippets

Depending on how much of a control freak you are, you can either store your snippets according to your own file structure – meaning: manually – or you can ask Pixa to organize everything for you. The “downside” of having Pixa manage your files: at the moment, they are stored in Pixa’s own file format in the library (pretty much like iPhoto puts everything in it’s library file). If you manage the location of the files on your own, they remain as they are.

Learn, Tag, Organize & Export

Don’t let that last bit of information discourage you. If Pixa is storing your images for you, it’s not garbling them – on the contrary, it allows you to export them in a variety of formats. There are three presets: .jpg, .png and the original file. Exporting is as easy as clicking the icon of the file format you desire.

Export your files from Pixa into different formats

Export your files from Pixa into different formats

You can also create your own preset, but that feature is a bit buggy at the moment (seing that the app is still in public beta, I’m certain it will be fixed soon). Once it will work, you can set the desired file type and set the size of the export: either original file size, specific dimensions (in pixels) or percent of the original.

But while the file is inside of Pixa, why not learn something interesting about it? The most obvious information are of course file type, size and dimensions. Additionally, Pixa displays when you added the file and where you grabbed it (it just does, you don’t need to do anything manually) from plus even more meta data. I love you being able to see everything at once instead of having to open the file inspector for every single file – it’s fast and quite efficient.

View a ton of meta information about every image

View a ton of meta information about every image

But one of the best features of Pixa is it’s tagging feature, which happens automatically in the background, with you having nothing to do. The moment you add a file to Pixa, it will be tagged according to its dimension and primary color. Additionally, you can assign your own tags.

Color and size tags are attached automatically with surprising accuracy

Color and size tags are attached automatically with surprising accuracy

If tags don’t get you excited enough, files are also organized into folders and projects. Folders can hold individual files or projects; the nesting is a great way of organizing large and complex collections.

Taking A Closer Look

If you’re considering Pixa, you are probably a designer or graphic artist. Which means you’ll care about colors and details. ShinyFrog, the developers of Pixa, have taken care of that as well. Bringing up a file will allow you to zoom in and use the loupe tool to figure out pixel perfectly which color is used where. Depending on your needs, you can have the color exported in a variety of different formats (simply clicking a portion of the image while in loupe mode will copy the color code into your clipboard).

The loupe shows you every pixel of color

The loupe shows you every pixel of color


Granted, Pixa still stumbles here and there, being in beta status, but if you can look past that, it’s a very promising app. It will help you keep your inspiration and creativity organized with very little input required from you.

How do you manage your graphical bits of information? Share you experiences with us in the comments.


Pixa allows you to organize your image clippings fast and efficiently so you can concentrate on your creativity instead.



Add Yours
  • Looks good. I’ll give it a go. And free you say?? :)

  • wow… this app is great! I can finally have ORDEEER.

  • It looks really interesting but one BIG Feature that you mentioned is not working for me, .. maybe I’m doing something wrong, but I wouldn’t know what that could be.

    “Additionally, Pixa displays when you added the file and where you grabbed it (it just does, you don’t need to do anything manually) from plus even more meta data.”

    And fair enough, in your screenshots I see a saved URL, but it just doesn’t do it for me. Any ideas?

    • Pixa will save the URL of the images dragged from the browser. For example if you drop a dribbble shot into your Pixa’s project the URL will be added to the image information.
      The URL will also be added to an image saved on disk from Safari and than imported in Pixa.
      It will not be added if you make a screenshot of the browser window.
      If the problem that you are encountering persists we would be happy to investigate it with you – just fill a support request (http://help.shinyfrog.net/discussions/pixa) with the steps to reproduce the issue.

  • Any chance that a pixa database can be shared over multiple computers? We’ve got a shared file folder with source material that we’d love to tag and be able to look up from multiple locations.

    • From the support Forums:

      “The sync with dropbox is already implemented and we’ll probably ship it in a few days. BUT the Pixa library is not meant to be opened by more than one user at a time, as that is going to broke the library as you experienced.

      We are evaluating many solutions for sharing the library, but as now I can’t say when it’s going to be possible.”

  • I recently discovered SparkBox : http://www.icyblaze.com/sparkbox/
    I have 2 iPhoto libraries. One for personal photos and the other for work (photos of my work, inspirational pictures, textures to be used in graphic work, etc…)
    But as I would like to use iPhoto only for personal stuff and only have 1 library, I’m looking for a good app to do the professional job. Sparkbox is great but I miss the integration to the OS that iPhoto brings. I’ll give Pixa a go.
    Does anyone has other suggestions ?

    • Tried SparkBox too, quite a good tool, but one thing was annoying, it didn’t understand the gif-file format. So I gave Pixa a chance and voila, it can handle gif-files and even animated gif’s. And there is one more big advantage (at least for me), you can manage the picture-library (picture locations) by yourself or just let Pixa do the job.
      Pretty good Pic-Organizer despite the fact that this is just the beta-version. So thumbs up.

  • I’ve been using Stock Keeper for a few months and really like it. http://mindersoftworks.com/products/ The built in browser is the best I’ve tried, and it seems to “disappear” into my workflow better.

    After sending a few feature requests to the developer, I was invited to test the next release (version 1.1) and it’s got a couple sweet new features and faster performance. I signed an NDA so I don’t know how much more I can say, but I know the developer tweeted that 1.1 should be out “soon” so that’s public info.

    I recommend checking it out. It’s saved me a lot of time.

  • Pixa vs LittleSnapper

    Interested in Pixa i transfered my over 4000 PNGs/JPGs & GIFs from LittleSnapper to my HD.

    Little Snapper crashed 10times! I had to export in smaller chunks with less than 500 Files. And even 500 files took very long to be exported. If a file was missing in the library LittleSnapper did not ignore it, instead it refused to export or worse crashed.

    There are even worse things in LittleSnapper but i don’t want to get into details …

    So i was very interested how PIXA would handle the job.

    In short excellent. Importing and exporting of over 4000 Files at once was stable. No single crash. The process is also very fast no comparison to LittleSnapper.

    Now Pixa only needs an feature to grab websites and its THE alternative to LittleSnapper.

    If the developer reads this here is a small wishlist:

    – Grab Website feature
    – The possibility to monitor a folder. the possibility to let PIXA reference the files is nice but without folder monitoring not very useful. but because pisa is rock solid i see no reason not letting pisa store files in their library …
    – a more beautiful app icon :-)
    – i didn’t test it yet but very important: even after letting the app crash it should always remember the state of the library. little snapper has the problem that if it crashes, all changes to the library are lost since starting the app. making it useless. so you had to close the app after making changes to the library or you would lose that changes when it crashes. and little snapper likes to crash often.

    PIXA is the REEDER of the Inspiration-Saveing-Apps.

    Sorry for my bad english.