Unchain your Photo Library with Lyn

Remember when being able to use Apple’s iLife suite was almost enough to convince you to buy a Mac? Editing videos in iMovie with a simple user interface; uploading content to the Internet with iWeb; and instantly improving pictures of your friends with iPhoto. Those days have come and gone, but of those apps, iPhoto still had the biggest hold on me. That is, until I found Lyn, a photo library app for Mac.

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What About iPhoto?

Before I sing the praises of Lyn, let me wax nostalgic about iPhoto. Since being included with the standard iLife suite that Apple provides to new Mac users, I’ve enjoyed the simplicity and styling of iPhoto. Making small tweaks, crops, and red-eye corrections is a breeze and requires little more than a couple clicks. When your mom can understand how to use an app with little guidance, you know it’s user intuitive. The problems came along when I upgraded my Macbook to a Macbook Air.

I had done all the calculations on hard drive space before officially taking the plunge, so I knew I would have enough room if I cleaned up my file storage a bit. And, after tossing some old unfinished video editing projects and archiving rarely used items, I was in the ballpark of making the 128GB Air SSD hard drive work for me. That is, until I butted heads with iPhoto.

iPhoto puts all of your photos into a big zipped file called “iPhoto Library”. And while you can technically extract it to get to your pictures, finding them is not exactly easy without the viewer that iPhoto has. Furthermore, I came to find that whenever an edit is made to an image in iPhoto, a copy of that image is created to preserve the original. In theory this sounds like a great idea, until you realize it’s taking up double the hard drive space.

After that frustrating experience, I started searching for a better photo management app. I stripped all of my files from the clutches of the iPhoto archive and put them into named folders, hoping for an app to come along that would fit my needs of simple editing, cost-effectiveness, and straight-forward organization. Luckily I found Lyn, a light, organized photo library tool that didn’t break the bank.

Using the App

If you’ve used any sort of photo organizing app in the past few years, you’ll likely understand the setup of Lyn–photos are laid out in a grid or list style and double-clicking them brings up a larger view and a some options for rotating, changing properties, etc. First, though, you’ll want to find your images. Lyn does work with the iPhoto library if that’s what you’re currently using, but the folder hierarchy within the iPhoto archive isn’t user friendly; I recommend dragging your photos out to named folders. I know it’s a bit time-consuming but you only have to do it once and a little housekeeping never hurt anyone.

Lyn doesn't deviate much from the typical photo management app in layout, but that's not such a bad thing.

Lyn doesn’t deviate much from the typical photo management app in layout, but that’s not such a bad thing.

There are a few viewing options, from thumbnails to list view, but there’s also the option to pin your photos to a global map. It adds a new dimension to your photo characteristics. The list view is handy for seeing all of the properties EXIF data of your photos.

Want to reference the location of your photos? Use Lyn's map view and drag the pin to the location of the album or image.

Want to reference the location of your photos? Use Lyn’s map view and drag the pin to the location of the image.

If you plan on making a full conversion from iPhoto to Lyn, you’ll need to create folders for all of your iPhoto images and then drag them there so Lyn can manage them. Lyn can open the contents of the iPhoto and Aperature library but it won’t see the sorting system employed by those apps.

There’s no denying the impact of photography on social media. Lyn has you covered with native plug-ins for Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, 500px, SmugMug, Dropbox, and of course e-mail. Having these as built-in tools makes uploading and sharing images a seamless experience because you don’t have to go out to the Web to upload your photos; you can do all from within the app itself, just by logging in to the respective account.

Lyn allows you to instantly upload your photos to your favorite social site.

Lyn allows you to instantly upload your photos to your favorite social site.


Lyn is swift and smooth, but most importantly it packs a long list of powerful user features for organizing your images. For much of my amateur photography career, I’d just accepted that all of my photos would be named by the convent the camera used: something to the effect of DSC… followed by a string of numbers. There would be no “Science Fair 001” or “June 2012 001”. Lyn, however, allows you to batch rename your files, meaning you can title your images the way you wish.

The wonderful batch processes of Lyn make mass photo conversion simple.

The wonderful batch processes of Lyn make mass photo conversion simple.

Also in the camp of batch processes is the ability to batch convert your photos from one filetype to another. Need a GIF instead of a JPEG? It’s just a menu-click away. Need to convert 90 GIFs to JPEGs? It’s just as easy. Lyn also allows you to color-code, flag, and rate your photos; small, but notable features found in Apple’s $80 Aperature application.


If I had to fault Lyn for something, it would be the lack of editing tools. Even a basic set of color correction or cropping tools could go a long way, but the features are not currently there. Thankfully, though, the developer of Lyn, allowed me to preview a beta version of the app that does have photo editing and, while I can’t promise a miniature Photoshop, the editor covers a lot of ground and is user-intuitive. The best part is, the edits are stored in data inherent to the photo, instead of making a duplicate version of the original.

With an interactive histogram and other editing features in beta, buying Lyn is a good bet.

With an interactive histogram and other editing features in beta, buying Lyn is a good bet.

So yes, this criticism is short-lived, but that’s a good thing right?


The Lyn photo management app can be had for a reasonable $20. If iPhoto isn’t your bag, then Lyn is the next best thing. It takes up less of your hard disk space, allows you to run batch property changes, and is far cheaper than its nearest competitors; Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Bridge, or Apple’s Aperature. It’s only negative quality — the current lack of editing tools — will likely be remedied once the next iteration (currently in beta) is released publicly. Ultimately, Lyn is a wonderful app to organize your images. On a final note, you won’t find Lyn in the App Store so you’ll need to visit the Lyn site to buy it there.


Lyn is a lightweight image organizer that utilizes your folder hierarchy and runs batch processes. Its lack of editing features will likely be overcome with the next update to the app.

  • Lyn  | 
  • $20.00  | 
  • Mirko Viviani


Add Yours
  • Why not try Picasa for Mac ?
    Its way better then the above and free ?!

    • The only beef I have with Picasa is that it’s design doesn’t mesh well with OS X. Minor, but still.

  • I’ve had Lyn around for over a year and watched it grow. Originally a Windows user, and not running multiple VMs on a Mac, I truly missed having ACDSee, and the MAC version was far too long and glitchy in development. Lyn isn’t even close to that program, but it had the basics and saved me wasting a lot of time on “you don’t need to know” Mac apps for image browsing. And it keeps growing, so it’s worthy watching as an economic alternative to such as Adobe Bridge (which I also have and use less now because of Lyn).

  • Good write-up, Dylan.

    It amazes me that this space (desktop photo management) is so crappy. Picasa is nice, but it seems like NO photo library (outside of web based) tackles “shared” libraries worth a [email protected]#!.

    Hacks exist, sure, but nothing native. In a world of “cloud”, I just don’t understand why such basic functionality is so hard to find.

    RE: Lyn – I’ve seen that app before, but neglected to try it because their website looks so dated. Figured if they couldn’t put more time into it, then I doubt their app is much better.

  • I’ve recently used Pixa. It’s far more better than all. try it.

    • I’ll have to check it out.

  • Any word from the developer on a timeframe for the beta to hit release status?

    • I didn’t get a firm timeline but since it already seems pretty polished, I would expect it to arrive soon.

  • I have never really been a fan of iPhoto. A little to simplistic for me.

    This looks interesting. How about integration to photostream?

    Missing this wouldn’t be cool.

    • I doubt it will ever have photostream integration since that’s an Apple product.

  • Thanks Dylan
    Having around 40000 pics in my iphoto library I’m interested in speed, with so many pics iPhoto is very slow. What about Lyn?
    Just a fun fact – Lyn in Danish means Flash :-)

    • It never slowed down on my Air but I don’t have nearly that many pictures. There is a 15-day trial, though, so check it out. The hardest part would be organizing those photos into folders.

  • I downloaded Lyn 1.2.10 on 5jan2013. It has a crop tool. What version did you test?