Recommendation for picture management app - I think I want check boxes for searching? and hierarchical abilities?

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I posted this question over the years but haven't gotten a good answer. I'd been a while and I thought I'd try again.

I have loads of pictures.  they are grouped into date folders - each day has its own folder and pics are in there.

I'd like a way to quickly search for certain pictures. Now, I manually look in folders around the dates I think the pictures I need is in.

What I'd envision is a search capability, that I think would need check boxes rather than free form.

I envision looking at each picture and manually checking boxes for who / what is in it and where it was taken.

Then to find pictures of Ed at Walt Disney World, I can check the boxes Ed and WDW and maybe a date range.

I think I need check boxes rather than free form because I might say Edward in some pics, rather than Ed.  Or WDW rather than Walt Disney World. So when I go to search, I might not find it using free form if I don't keep typing exactly the same each time?

Or even a typo. If I type Ef rather than Ed, I won't find it.  But there's no checkbox for Ef : ) so typos are reduced?

And hierarchial - I might check the 'family' box (which has ed, ann, steve, etc. under it) and see all the pics with  Ed and other family.

And WDW woudl be under florida? Or vacation.  Again, check boxes rather than free form comments for each picture.

Any app let me do that?

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unless you have already added tags or renamed your  images, this is rather a daunting task for "loads of pictures"

one option is to use

you could import photos by small lots of related images and use the batch processing function to add the appropriate tags (no check boxes available)
Bill PrewIT / Software Engineering Consultant
Top Expert 2016
I've got good news, and I've got bad news :-).

The good news is, I'm in about the same place as you are.  I have about 400GB of digital photos on a local NAS here, with a crude hierarchical structure, but also was using Google's retired Picaso to index and do facial recognition on them.  Also do a cloud backup via CrashPlan.

The bad news is while I've been doing a little shopping around, I haven't found the holy grail yet.  I would like to move to a cloud based solution (I think) with built in backup, but haven't seen anything yet that knocked my socks off.  Two of the leading contenders are Apple and Oracle, but I straddle their platforms using IOS for phone and tablet, but Windows 10 for laptop and desktop.

One of the biggest things I definitely want is facial recognition, I want it to automatically find matching people once I identify a few pictures with them in it.  I think at this point Google may be stronger on that side, but I haven't done large testing on some of the other platforms.  Google also does some "contextual" identification, like "show me dogs", but naturally it's not perfect.

I'll be interested in what you conclude, and any other thoughts people have here.  Below are things I am currently considering.

Bill - are we asking too much to be able to find pictures easily?!

I didn't think of facial recognition. but now that I am, some thoughts:

a) lack of faith that it'll do it right : )
b) I have to look at each picture for location, other details for each picture, so checking the boxes for who's in the picture doesn't seem like a big deal (Paul - yes, certainly daunting, but otherwise, it's like having scrapbooks filled with pics and you have to look through each to find pictures you want... realisitically, by the time I find the app, I'll likely give up on cataloging all the pics : )

as for backup - hard enough finding an app to catalog the pics. I'll backup with another app.
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Joe WinogradDeveloper
Fellow 2017
Most Valuable Expert 2018
This is an interesting idea. Some questions to clarify the specs:

(1) Do you want to store the metadata (Ann, Ed, Steve, WDW, etc.) in each of the picture files or in a separate file/database?

(2) If the former above, do you want to use an existing EXIF tag (if so, which one?) or create a custom EXIF tag?

(3) How do you envision creating/specifying the values in the check-boxes? In other words, you want, say, check-boxes with Ann, Ed, Steve — all of which may be under Family; and check-boxes for Disneyland, Disney World, Sea World — all of which may be under Vacation; etc. How to store them? An XML file? How to create and edit/maintain them? A nice GUI with a tree-view approach or a simple plain text editor?

I'm sure there are a lot more questions on the road to a complete spec for this program, but those represent a good start. Regards, Joe
Joe, while I was going to try to wrap it up with a 'not sure' and that I'm looking for an off the shelf app not build from the ground up (really - how does everyone else find a picture from thousands of jpgs that are collecting on hard drives?)

I'd throw out things just for some education for myself if you don't mind:

1) I guess putting the data into the picture would be better / keeps things together, am I wrong that if you are editing the metadata, you are editing the file and there's a bit more chance the picture gets corrupted vs just viewing it?

2) don't know the difference.

3) you descrbe what I'm looking for very well. Yes, the people under family.  You could check family to see pics with any of the family or just 1or 2 people to see pictures with both in them?

Same for locations - maybe those woudl be under florida not vacation?   and date criteria.

Now that we have that, what app fits that?  And again, wouldn't this make sense (checkboxes) vs. typing words and mistyping wald disney world and not finding pics.
Fellow 2017
Most Valuable Expert 2018
> how does everyone else find a picture from thousands of jpgs that are collecting on hard drives?

I can't speak for others, but when I copy photos off my cameras/phones, I file them in appropriately named folders, and let my file manager do the work of finding them when I search for them later. It works well when I use a hierarchical folder structure and long names for the folders, essentially incorporating tags into the folder names. For example, you could have a root folder called Vacations, then a subfolder called Florida, then a subfolder called:

Walt Disney World DisneyWorld WDW

Or you could have this right under Vacations:

Walt Disney World DisneyWorld WDW Florida

With a good file manager that has a powerful search feature, you should be able to find that easily. The key point is not to have thousands of photos "that are collecting on hard drives" in a non-foldered environment.

Is this perfect? No. But it works well in most cases. Of course, Bill's idea takes it to the next level — actually, several levels up — facial recognition! There have been times when I've wanted that, but my foldering system usually does very nicely.

It takes a one-time effort and some extra time when you copy the photos from your devices, but it pays off handsomely when you're searching for photos later, which you do many, many times. The one-time foldering effort is well worth it, and the payoff makes me resist the admittedly strong temptation to simply dump all the photos into a single folder.

> am I wrong that if you are editing the metadata, you are editing the file

You are not wrong — the metadata is in the file.

> there's a bit more chance the picture gets corrupted vs just viewing it?


> don't know the difference.

There are many tags already defined by the EXIF spec. Here's a site worth a peek:

You could almost surely use an existing tag, such as UserComment (tag ID 0x9286), but some folks are insistent on creating a custom tag.

> You could check family to see pics with any of the family

Proper foldering would handle this nicely.

> or just 1 or 2 people to see pictures with both in them

That's much tougher — would require work at the photo/file level.

> Same for locations - maybe those would be under florida not vacation?

Proper foldering may work for that.

> and date criteria

One idea on the date front is to rename the file with a date from inside the photo, i.e., the value in a date tag. We discussed this in a thread here at EE where I started working on a program called RAPID (Rename All Photos with Internal Date):

> Now that we have that, what app fits that?

None that I know of, other than a really good file manager, like Total Commander and Directory Opus.

> wouldn't this make sense (checkboxes) vs. typing words and mistyping wald disney world and not finding pics.

Yes, check-boxes, drop-downs (aka list-of-values), and radio buttons often make good sense rather than the vagaries of data entry. Regards, Joe
Appreciate your comments, but renaming files, refoldering things, etc. may get what I want, but seems more work than look at each picture / check some boxes for what's in the picture, move on. I could be wrong....

But it seems I'll post this at some point in the future and maybe there'll be an off the shelf product then? I can hope.
Joe WinogradDeveloper
Fellow 2017
Most Valuable Expert 2018

> check some boxes

That's the key — what boxes? You want boxes for Ann, Ed, Steve under Family; I want boxes for Carol, Lynn, Ted under Friends; Bill wants boxes for Bear, Duke, Rocky under Pets. Everyone will want different boxes, so there needs to be a way to specify (create and edit) what the boxes contain — and that's just one of many issues. All doable, of course, so keep hoping! :)
oh, certainly -  the ability to specify the names for each box and what box its under and build the hierarchy.

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