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The Best Photo Organizer Software in 2024 (for Mac)

If you, like me, have been overwhelmed by your ever-expanding collection of photos and videos, finding it a challenge to locate and organize those precious memories, then you’re in good company. I have been passionate about photography for as long as I can remember, and through the years, the joy of capturing landscapes, preserving memories of my loved ones, and editing my favorite images has only grown. My journey began in the stunning landscapes of Chile, an amazing backdrop for any photographer with its splendid nature, breathtaking landscapes, and magnificent wildlife. Later, my children became key subjects in my photos and videos, enriching our family albums with each trip and adventure as we eagerly explored new cultures and destinations.

Now, I find myself with thousands of photos and videos spread across multiple hard drives and the cloud. Like you, I’ve seen my collection expand massively over time, and the thought of all those unsorted files can be overwhelming. My family and friends often share their frustration over not being able to find cherished memories, and I know the pain of trying to retrieve photos from a special place or a significant moment spent with friends. It’s a daunting task, made all the more frustrating because, like many photographers, I dread the tedious work of organizing and annotating my photos.

This is why having effective photo organization software is a game-changer. It’s not just about reliving the beautiful images we’ve captured; it’s also crucial for professionals and enthusiasts alike who need to streamline their workflow and make the most of their vast photo collections.

I’ve tested various photo organization software programs in search of solutions that can tackle these common problems, and here are the ones I recommend. They offer the tools to transform your chaotic library into a well-organized, easily navigable collection that frees you to spend more time shooting.

Peakto: The Best Photo Organizer on the Market in 2024

Best Photo Organizer Software for Mac: Peakto
With Peakto, I bring all my photos together in one interface. While keeping the original catalog structure, I can search across different sources at the same time.

Certainly, I might be biased, but I consider Peakto the best software for managing photos, especially if you’re struggling with photo organization like I often do. Peakto provides an overview of all my photos, regardless of where they are stored. This is crucial for someone like me who has worked in photography for years and dealt with various software and formats. Unlike other tools, Peakto can centralize all my images in one place.

Peakto is compatible with photo folders and catalogs from major photo editing software like Apple Photos, Lightroom & Lightroom Classic, Luminar Neo, Capture One, Pixelmator Pro, DXO PhotoLab, DXO PureRAW, ON1 Photo RAW, and FotoMagico. It even works with discontinued software such as Aperture and iView Media, which I have used extensively.

With Peakto, when I search for an image, I can sift through all my photos without adding clutter, as it creates image previews without duplicating files. This feature is a game-changer for me because it provides a streamlined, efficient way to manage my photo library without the chaos.

Best Photo Organizer Software for Mac: Peakto with AI
Peakto automatically sorts my photos by category, regardless of the folder or catalog they are in.

Another significant advantage of Peakto is its AI-driven capability to eliminate the need for manual annotation and categorization. With its image recognition, I just describe what I’m looking for, and Peakto finds it. I can refine searches with similar images or combine them with existing annotations. This means I can find anything from highly-rated portraits to specific beach scenes from a certain date. Peakto also categorizes photos by themes like nature, portrait, and architecture, which greatly simplifies my search.

Peakto is also a viewer, allowing me to rediscover my photos through its unique perspectives. Whether through automatically categorized photos or the map view, I often find images I had completely forgotten about. Peakto offers various views, from detailed to full screen, providing comprehensive views across all my photos.

Designed to integrate seamlessly with what I already own, Peakto enhances my photography experience by letting AI handle the tedious organization. It also analyzes photos locally, ensuring my data privacy is protected. For all these reasons, I believe Peakto is the best photo cataloger for anyone with a large, hard-to-manage photo collection. If you’re looking for a more streamlined approach to photo management, Peakto might just be the solution you need.

Adobe Lightroom (with Peakto Search) : The Best Image Management Software for Photographers

Best Photo Organizing Software : Lightroom
Lightroom is one of the most widely used image management software program.

Lightroom is the most well-known and widely used photo editing software. A list of photo organization/management software would be incomplete without it. Adobe’s photo sorting software allows users not only to edit their images but also to catalog them. Lightroom is appreciated for its photo editing capabilities as well as its photo management features. By default, Lightroom organizes photos by date, which is the most common way to organize images. One of the great advantages of Lightroom is that it also allows you to search your photos based on metadata. Lightroom has the classic features of a DAM: keywords, stars, people present, camera or lens used, camera settings (such as aperture or shutter speed/ISO). So if you annotate your images, you can easily find the photo of Leo and Marie at that acoustic concert taken with your Canon Rebel T3i 50mm f/1.8 in portrait orientation without knowing exactly which folder it is in.

Smart collections are also one of Lightroom’s effective features for managing your images well. The same photo can be in multiple collections, so I can create a smart collection with all photos of my children rated 4 and 5 stars.

However, to properly organize photos in Lightroom, it is recommended to use a single catalog. Searching through multiple catalogs is not possible and Lightroom poorly supports managing multiple catalogs at the same time. This is the main limitation I find with Lightroom, as I like to separate my catalogs for easier navigation.

Another limitation is that Lightroom cannot retrieve photos that have not been annotated. It lacks image recognition to find photos and, most importantly, it only allows searches within a single catalog. If you have multiple catalogs, your search is inevitably limited. And if, like me, you try to put all your images into a single catalog, you end up with a slow Lightroom that is difficult to use.

However, Lightroom can be enhanced with a plugin like Peakto Search, which offers AI-powered search capabilities and allows searching across multiple catalogs. This plugin is tightly integrated with Adobe’s software and can open one or more photos directly in Lightroom from the plugin. It can also create selections within Lightroom.

Best Photo Management Software : Peakto Search and Lightroom
Thanks to the Peakto Search plugin, it is possible to describe an image to find and open it directly in Lightroom.

With Peakto Search, Lightroom becomes a very effective solution for me to catalog photos, annotate them, and retrieve them easily. Peakto Search is an especially useful companion for Lightroom because it works for both photos and videos, is directly accessible from the Mac’s menu bar, and responds instantly to queries. The results appear in real-time in the plugin’s interface, allowing you to click and immediately work on the document you’re searching for.

Capture One (with Peakto Search): The Best Solution for Organizing Professional Images

Best Photo Organizer : Capture One
Capture One allows you to organize your images but in separate catalogs and sessions.

Capture One is an excellent photo editing tool with robust features for organizing photo shoots by grouping images by session. It allows you to automatically and massively add metadata to your photos upon import, saving precious time in photo organization.

However, similar to Lightroom, searching for a photo in Capture One is limited to a catalog or a session. Additionally, there’s no AI-powered image analysis to search for an image simply by describing it.

Fortunately, those who exclusively use Capture One Pro can boost its photo management capabilities by adding the Peakto Search plugin. This plugin analyzes the catalogs of Capture One Pro and then enables you to find any image based on a description or another image. The results are displayed instantly, and you can open photos or videos directly in Capture One.

Best Software for Image Organisation: Peakto Search and Capture One
Capture One, when paired with Peakto Search, allows searching across all your catalogs at once.

As someone who uses multiple photo editing software, or even just organizes them in folders, I prefer using Peakto, which is a universal cataloger. But if you only use Capture One, then by adding Peakto Search, you’ll have the best photo management software for your needs.

Apple Photos: The Best Free Photo Organizing Software on Mac

Best Free Image Manager : Apple Photos
Apple Photos is perfectly suited for Mac users but remains limited.

Obviously, Apple Photos is great for its seamless integration across all my Apple devices, with a user-friendly interface that makes syncing and accessing photos across my iPhone, iPad, and Mac effortless. It offers basic to moderate editing tools, automatically creates themed “Memories” albums, and has reliable facial recognition for organizing images. I like being able to easily create shared albums to share with my wife, but I don’t like that you can’t create albums from different image libraries.

However, Apple Photos doesn’t support many raw file formats. Its organizational flexibility falls short compared to software like Adobe Lightroom, and heavy reliance on iCloud can be a drawback if you prefer not using cloud services. Apple Photos is ideal for a casual to moderate photo management needs within the Apple ecosystem. Peakto is compatible with Apple Photos libraries and can be a great companion if you’re looking for AI capabilities to help you find and annotate your images.

ON1 Photo RAW: The Best Affordable Image Manager

Best Image Manager Software for Mac: ON1
ON1 is an affordable software for organizing your photos.

ON1 Photo RAW consistently impresses, and the 2024 version is no exception, possibly due to its intuitive interface, extensive features, or abundant presets. I particularly enjoy exploring ON1’s updates, and this latest release is outstanding.

A key highlight is the new AI Keywords feature, which automatically tags your files to save time. In my tests, the tool prefers quantity over precision but is generally effective. For instance, it tagged a snowy production plant scene with many keywords like “building,” “fence,” and “snow,” but also mistakenly added “fire hydrant” and “tree,” which weren’t in the image. Despite this, the feature significantly streamlines the keywording process, especially for those who don’t usually use keywords.

The AI’s keywords were hit or miss; “building” and “snow” were accurate, while “fire hydrant” was not, likely confused by an unrelated object in the image.

I’m a fan of the ON1 Photo RAW interface—it’s visually appealing and user-friendly. Beginners can easily navigate, rate, label, and create albums, and switch between editing and library views effortlessly. The developers have made the program’s comprehensive features accessible and straightforward for all users.

While additional image management tools would be welcome, ON1 Photo RAW is well-designed and offers excellent value. Priced at just $85 for a perpetual license, it’s an ideal choice for beginners or anyone seeking a cost-effective, full-featured photo organizer.

Aperture: The Best Digital Image Organizer for Mac From the Past

Best Image Organising Software: Apple Aperture
Apple's Aperture, one of the most beloved software programs, is no longer maintained.

Apple Aperture was a renowned image editing and management software, favored by professionals until its discontinuation. It efficiently handled RAW files for high-quality adjustments and used a non-destructive workflow that allowed edits without altering original files. Its intuitive interface streamlined workflows, and its powerful organizational tools, including stacks, versions, smart albums, keywords, ratings, and metadata searches, simplified large library management.

The software simplified project management, grouped images into projects, and organized them into albums and folders. Aperture’s facial recognition and GPS data sorted photos by people and locations. Despite being replaced by Apple’s Photos app, Aperture’s robust features, ease of use, and efficiency left a lasting impact on photo editing software.

It’s clear why many photographers, myself included, chose to use Aperture for their images. That’s why I really appreciate how Peakto is compatible with my Aperture catalogs. This allows me to access my images without having to transfer my catalogs into another program. For the folders I want to keep editing, I use Avalanche to convert them into Lightroom or Capture One catalogs, depending on what I need.

Photo Mechanic: The Best Photo Collection Manager for Professional Photographers

Best Photo Organizing Software: Photo Mechanic
PhotoMechanic is a photo management software favored by professionals.

Photo Mechanic is highly regarded for its speed and efficiency, particularly when importing, viewing, and culling large sets of images, making it ideal for photographers facing tight deadlines. It offers powerful metadata tools for batch editing and updating IPTC data, essential for detailed cataloging and searching. The software facilitates easy sorting and organizing with quick rating and categorizing features using color labels, star ratings, and tags. Photo Mechanic also boasts versatile exporting options and seamless integration with other editing software like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, which is great for maintaining efficient workflows. The contact sheet view and code replacement tool are especially useful for scanning shoots and inserting complex metadata quickly, appealing to sports photographers and photojournalists.

Despite these strengths, Photo Mechanic lacks in certain areas; it offers only basic editing capabilities, with no built-in photo enhancement tools or native RAW processing, and requires additional software for detailed image adjustments. The lack of direct cloud integration and a more straightforward organizational structure means it’s less suitable for those who rely on cloud services or prefer catalog-based systems. Additionally, the higher learning curve due to its extensive customization can be overwhelming for new users. In conclusion, I would say that Photo Mechanic is an excellent tool for professional photographers who need to manage large volumes of images efficiently.

Conclusion: How to Choose the Best Software for Photo Management for Mac?

Tackling the vast collection of unsorted photos and videos can be daunting, but finding the right tools to streamline this process is key. I hope this list helps you find the right tools for your needs, depending on the type of and number of photos you take. With the release of new plugins, you can now enhance the tools you already use. Plus, you can use AI to simplify the tedious task of organizing your photos.

We have a deep passion for photography, meticulously designed software, and seamless user experiences. We're also enthusiasts of cutting-edge gear... and we absolutely ❤︎ the Mac.
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