Thanks to the advent of point and shoot digital cameras and megapixel rich smartphones, many among us have collections with as many pictures, or even more, than a professional photographer’s. It’s true that digital photography makes freezing those wonderful moments in life with so much ease, but handling, categorizing and archiving them has become a daunting task.
Apps that help organize photos come in all kinds and sizes. Great apps like Picasa are available for free. However, if you are someone who take your image collection seriously, a full blown organizer is the right way to go. ACDSee Pro has been around for a long time and has carved its own niche in the photo organizer vertical. After the break, we’ll check out how the app can put your photography workflow into overdrive.
I was introduced to ACDSee Pro about eight years ago, though I was using a Windows version then. It was one of the coolest apps I have ever come across and was a fan from day one. Those were the days when Irfanview was the rage. I loved the ease with which the app indexed and organized all my images (there were hundreds of them). But as version numbers went up, the app became bloated and I stopped using it and settled with the built in image viewers and Picasa. And now I get to review the Mac version of the app, after many years.
Immediately after launch, the app connects to a server to help you with the product registration. If you have already purchased a license, just enter it or submit your email address to get a 30 day free trial access. Those who aren’t willing to submit the email address get to try the app for 7 days.
ACDSee Pro works in three different modes – view, manage and organize – and you can switch between different modes in a single click.
Manage mode is set as default and at first glance the app looks a lot like a file manager. The three pane user interface is anything but mindblowing, yet is so functional. All devices and folders are listed in the left pane. Once a folder is selected the content is displayed in the middle pane.
The app does not limit itself to indexing images from the hard disk. As soon as I connected my iPhone, all my images were listed in ACDSee Pro. Unfortunately, you can only view those images but cannot process them until you copy them to the hard drive (likely due to Apple’s restrictions). Sorting and rotating of images can be managed from here. The right pane of the app helps you filter the images based on the ratings (which you will have to add), tags and categories.
I found the navigation keys at the top left corner (back, forward and one up) to be extremely helpful. They ensure that you can backtrack easily to where you came from instead of drilling down through the list of folders.
The view mode is triggered when you double click on an image. There’s nothing really worth mentioning in this section of the app, except for the thumbnail view pane helping you jump through folders quickly.
I don’t usually retouch my images but was delighted to see what all one can do with so many processing options. With the help of non destructive edits, you can perfect the exposure, color, clarity and geometry of the images. I was floored by the grid selection tool that allows picking just the right portion of the image for processing.
As a blogger I have to take a bunch of screenshots almost everyday and resize them all to 620px (the AppStorm spec). It’s a monotonous task but some apps that batch edit images did a poor job and I gave up. When I tried to batch edit them with ACDSee Pro, the results turned out to be really good.
Another fabulous addition to the batch workflow is the ability to drag and drop actions in any order you wish. This customized workflow can be saved as a preset and put to use in just a single click.
In addition to resizing images, renaming files, setting metadata information, adjusting the time stamp, changing the file format, copying, moving and applying image processing presets are the other activities that can have their own custom workflows. If other members of the team are working with ACDSee Pro as well, simply import and export your customized workflows to share with others. How nice!
Drag and drop technique is implemented with perfection in the case of search too. All you have to do is drag metadata info from the Properties pane and drop right into the search box at the top. ACDSee Pro will display all images that match the same metadata. The app also lets you save your searches, saving you a lot of time.
After almost five years I revisited an app that I once loved and used multiple times a day. The entire user interface has changed and so has the purpose of the app, but the experience was rather joyful. While it isn’t the nimble app that worked wonders anymore, ACDSee Pro still has a lot of magic left.
One sticking point is the steep price point. At $169.99, this is hardly an app for hobbyists and might be a bit under-featured for professional photographers. The batch workflow feature helps save a ton of time, but the rest of the feature set doesn’t seem to warrant such a hefty price tag.