Organize and manage your photo library, with Phototheca


Digital images have a way of steadily accumulating, whether they come from digital cameras or phones, social networks, or the internet. If  you’re looing for an easy, simple way to organize and view your images then read on.

Phototheca is a free, easy to use desktop application that helps organize and view locally stored images. It provides a myriad of filtering options, such as by calendar, timeline, or ‘event’, and adds a number of nice image management functions, such as image deduplication  and quick image tag filtering and editing.

This app is all about FILTERING: filters by event, filters by calendar, filters by timeline, filters by tags, and offers ‘intelligent’ filtering such as last imported, last 3 months, etc.

Examples: the screenshot on the left shows filtering by calendar, and the screenshot on the right shows filtering by tags (as well as the process of flagging an image).

Phototheca Screenshot

Events vs. Albums: there are two kinds of ‘virtual containers’ that you can set up and use to organize images: Events and Albums. ‘Events’, as you may have guessed, is a container you could add that can house pictures belonging to an event, such as a wedding or a trip, etc., and can be placed on a timeline. Albums are similar, except that they don’t have to be an event per se, and they can be dynamically generated by the app. For example, you could create a dynamic album with all the pictures dates between May and Jun, or where the filename contains a certain string, etc., and every change or addition you make to your media library from that point forward will be reflected automatically in the smart folder.

Phototheca - calendarPhototheca - tagging

Image deduplication: is shown in the screenshot below left, and detects exact duplicate images even if under a different name (filesize has to be exactly matched).

Phototheca - dedupe

Private safes: don’t be too excited about this function. Although you can set up private safes INSIDE the program, the images are not hidden or encrypted on disk. Very strange.

Activating the ‘paid’ version: there are additional features that can be enabled by ‘registering’ the application. At the time of this writing, this can be done for free, although it seems that that will be the case only through Nov 30th 2012. The main draw, it seems, is the ability to sync your images to cloud storage.

The verdict:

This is an excellent program that can add considerable value, provided you put in the time and effort into to set up events and albums, etc.

PROS: excellent filtering, a nice interface, a good set of functions. An excellent image viewer as well.

CONS: a little unintuitive to use; you will have to do a lot of flagging of images first to do many things. Managing events (adding or removing images) is not as user friendly as it should be.

Also, does not provide a good way to translate organization by folder to organization by event, Album or to tag. If you have a lot of images organized by folder, the best thing to do may be to import these folders one by one rather than the entire ‘My Pictures’ folder wholesale.

Another drawback: Phototheca, unlike Picasa for example, does not connect to online albums, although you could use third party tools such as recently mentioned ‘Pipe’ to download images from many online services locally.

But on the whole, a good program. Try it, you might like it.

Download Phototheca (Windows). [Thanks to reader Panzer for the tip about this program].

  • NGC300

    Download link is down.

  • DaPesto

    Junk… lol.. what about XMP tagging, IPTC data view, GPS tagging, dual screen viewing, email/facebook integration… Picasa does all this and more and it too is free… skip!

    • @ DaPesto: Picasa is definitely a cut above. Phototheca is a much simpler program.

    • Jonnie Jo

      Phototheca finally got dual screen viewing and email features in the latest release:

  • I noted the previous “comment” leading with “Junk….”. When someone chooses to rudely dismiss the time taken by a blogger to review or discuss something, whether it be software, crafts, productivity or my little ponies I immediately take it as a “given” that their opinion is pretty much worthless. Either they have an agenda (and in this case it appears to be trolling around the internet and throwing their weight around) or they are a very timid person in real life. Maybe both.

    But to dismiss something in such a peremptory way is sheer arrogance. Different people require different things from their software. One would not recommend Photoshop to a beginner, for example. I am always careful to recommend software relative to the abilities and needs of my clients. I certainly wouldn’t write them off because they don’t have advanced skills.

    Whilst I use Picasa, like many others I find it unbelievably irritating. – the folder management apparently remains a mystery to 32% of users. Count me in. The execrable GUI is illogical and clumsy beyond any other I can think of. New pictures ? Who knows when the unfathomable Picasa will import them ? Not in time for me, that’s all I can say. It’s like some ancient mystery tour. If you want to resize pictures your have to export them to another file – thereby exacerbating the folder hell of Picasa. As for suddenly wresting your PC, from your control to scan everything on your hard drive, before you are even given a choice of locations, usually at a crucial time, what century did they actual produce this software in. Good software should do all that kind of stuff in the background when the CPU is inactive – or at least have the ability to be scheduled to do so.

    I do like the Picasa editing abilities and it is for this that I tolerate it. I now have it configured to monitor only one folder. Aha ! I know what you’re thinking. “It won’t remain one for long”. That rascal Picasa will be littering my hard drive with hundreds of gratuitous folders before long. When this software is open I watch it like a hawk, do what I have to and get the hell out of there with my picture.

    I applaud your courteous response to someone throwing their weight around behind the safety of their keyboard. Perhaps next time he will supply a link to his blog/site so we can applaud the time and effort he has taken to review software in full detail for the benefit of others.