Photo management is almost a necessity anymore. With so many photos on your phone, scanned from old family photos, necessary documents, and more, you need a place to put them where you can easily find the image you are looking for when you need it.
With many management software costing money nowadays, it is hard to find the one that is worth purchasing. Some others are free or at least free up to a point. But are those worth using, or do you risk losing all of your pictures?
Whether you are a professional or just the average person, it is well worth getting photo management software to help you out.
Thankfully, depending on your needs, there are some excellent free ones available, or ones that don’t cost a whole bunch of money.
Keep reading below to learn about some of the best photo management software available, and which ones are our favorite.
What is the Photo Management Software
Photo management software is a huge deal anymore. From professionals trying to find a place to manage their collections to people just trying to preserve old photos. There are websites, cloud software, and even just programs on your computer that allow you to store and manage all of your photos.
But which ones are the best?
These are our picks for the best Photo Management Software:
1. Adobe Lightroom
As the name suggests, this is a product by Adobe. You can either get it as a standalone or as part of their Creative Cloud membership. It is a photo management software that allows you to organize, edit, print, and share your photos all from one platform.
It handles more common edits such as color correction, and raw photo editing easily. It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner or experienced in this field, you should have no problems with basic editing in Adobe Lightroom.
It also has photo management in the sense that it allows you to sort your photos. You can either do this yourself with folders and albums, or it will sort them automatically via objects, themes, locations, people, colors, and more.
That way, you can always find your pictures when you need them via a quick search.
Of course, jumping from simple photo management that is free or at least a one-time purchase to a hefty subscription can be hard.
Like with any software, Adobe Lightroom isn’t perfect. It requires a fair amount of power that older or weaker PCs may not be able to keep up with. It also isn’t suitable for photo retouching.
However, photo editing has some pretty great features that allow you to achieve professional results, even with minimal experience.
Adobe Lightroom Key Features:
- Allows you to label images and create albums easily
- Senses and recognizes faces, locations, objects, themes, colors, and more in your images to help you find what you are looking for
- Works with Adobe Photoshop on iPad easily
- Can compress, brighten, and sharpen images.
Adobe Lightroom User Experience:
The biggest benefit for me was the ability to add my watermark and control the opacity, size, and location with ease. This is great for when I decided to place pictures online but didn’t want my art stolen.
However, that wasn’t the only good thing about it. It was easy to use, and though I hadn’t used the software before, I found it easy to understand and pretty intuitive to use.
Though I have a bit of experience with photo management and editing, I think even beginners wouldn’t struggle too much.
Adobe Lightroom Cost:
Adobe is a little complicated with its pricing and pricing plans, which can make it kind of difficult to figure out.
You do get an initial seven-day free trial that you can use to learn more about the software and decide if it works best for you.
After that, you have to pay either a monthly or annual fee. There are two ways to do this. The first is through the Creative Cloud membership, and the second is just purchasing the Lightroom by itself.
For students, if you apply, it is either $19.99 per month or $239.88 a year. After that first year, your monthly fee will be $29.99 a month or $359.88 a year.
Otherwise, the membership is generally anywhere between $49.99 and $82.49 a month, depending on your purchase plan.
The membership is the Creative Cloud membership, so you do get more than just Adobe Lightroom at your disposal. There are more than 20 other apps you can use as well, to make the most out of your purchase.
Some of the other software included are:
- Fill & Sign
- And many more
If you just want Adobe Lightroom, you can get it for anywhere between $9.99 and $19.99 a month, depending on the storage you want.
What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Lightroom:
- Automatically backs up all your images
- Easy searchability and organization
- Can access images from any device
- Can be pricy
- Lacks a lot of features
Adobe Lightroom Scoring:
Though this is our number one photo management software, the price puts a big hit on this for us. I think we have to give it a 9 out of 10.
If they created a way to pay for it one time, instead of monthly payments ranging anywhere from $10 to $60, we could easily give this a 10 out of 10 because we love it that much.
2. Adobe Bridge
Another part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud, Adobe Bridge is a digital management software. It allows you to easily copy and move photos wherever you need them. You can also mark photos to find them easier and create easily searchable categories.
One thing that makes this software stand out from others is the fact that you can categorize photos by the way the photo was taken.
Categorizing photos based on shutter speed, focal length, and aperture is a great way to keep similar styles together.
The best way I have seen Adobe Bridge describes as a personal assistant on your computer.
Adobe Bridge Key Features:
- Photo management for files anywhere on your PC
- Can sort, rate, and access any photos
- Allows you to add metadata to find images easier and remember notes
Adobe Bridge User Experience:
We struggled with the metadata and what exactly to include initially. However, after that, it was easy enough to pick up.
Being able to sort pictures and remember the ones I liked least and most was a great feature to include. I also liked that I could sort them by color.
The best part, however, was that it was pretty intuitive to figure out what to use. What I couldn’t figure out was easy to find a tutorial on.
Adobe Bridge Cost:
Unlike Adobe Lightroom, the Adobe Bridge software is completely free. While you can get it included in your monthly membership to the Creative Cloud, this management software stays even after your Creative Cloud membership expires.
Adobe doesn’t advertise this fact, but to just get it as a standalone is free, which is a great benefit.
What We Like/Dislike About Adobe Bridge:
- Tons of ways to manage and categorize your photos
- Can sort selections (by number, color, or both) to remember what your top pictures from a shoot were
- Can keep track of photos anywhere, no matter where on your computer you put the folder
- Metadata to help you find the photo and remember details about it
- Is only a photo management software, and provides no tools for editing
- May not work for all styles of photographers
- Isn’t an all-in-one option like many others
Adobe Bridge Scoring:
We give Adobe Bridge an 8 out of 10. Though it is free, it doesn’t allow for editing as Adobe Lightroom does.
It is a great management tool however if you aren’t looking for something too extensive and just want a simple management software.
3. ACDSee Photo Studio Home
Powerful digital asset management (DAM) software does have to come at a high price. Features like facial recognition and location data give users additional means of searching and sorting through your files for a quicker and more streamlined workflow.
RAW file editing within the same application with a comprehensive toolset allows you to batch images together for processing before saving them in controlled locations.
You’re even able to import files easily from previous DAM and other photo management software you may have used in the past like Lightroom so that you don’t suffer any setbacks while you make a transition.
ACDSee Key Features:
- 64-bit facial recognition to quickly name people for searching later
- Finder renames or deletes duplicates to keep storage organized
- Location data groups files for easier filtering and viewing
- Built-in support for 500+ camera models to make the most of RAW images
ACDSee User Experience:
The search features on this software work well, and they work fast. There is no waiting around, twiddling your thumbs as the AI tries to search through every picture for the ones you are looking for. As long as your computer can handle the requirements, it can be done in no time.
We did find it pretty hard to figure out the interface, and the correction tools were poor compared to Adobe Lightroom.
This makes quick fixes take a little longer than average. However, once we got the hang of the software, it became one of our favorites!
If you’re looking for an alternative to the cost of Adobe creative apps but aren’t sure about your options, ACDSee is great about offering 30-day free trials to test the software before dedicating yourself to swapping over.
If you do choose to continue working with ACDSee you still have some options to consider for your needs.
The monthly and annual subscription plans are only $8.90 and $89 respectively but the ability to also have a one-time purchase of a full license to the software is something we love.
The full price for just Photo Studio Home 2022 is $79.94 but ACDSee frequently bundles Photo Studio Home 2022 with some of its other products in case you have a wider range of needs.
The company also runs a fair share of good deals like one at the time of writing that offered Photo Studio Home 2022 for over 50% off.
What We Like/Dislike About ACDSee:
- Free updates after a one-time purchase
- Swapping from Adobe software is seamless
- Batch images together for processing and saving
- Mobile app can sync with ACDSee to share photos and videos
- Sometimes confusing interface buries useful tools
- Can be resource-intensive on low-end computers
ACDSee Photo Studio Home gets another 8 out of 10 for us. It is pretty cheap for what it does, and compared to other similar software, which usually easily hits over $100.
Because of this price, it works well for those getting into the photography world but that want to have a good program to back them up.
You can get a handle on RAW images, and search for individual faces and it is mostly easy to use, though some features can be buried.
4. Google Photos
Google Photos is designed to be a cloud storage software for photos and videos that connects easily to your Google account.
However, it also functions as a management software due to its ability to sort images into albums and search through pictures.
If your devices, such as a smartphone or tablet, are connected to your Google Drive, you can have them set up to upload any images and videos to the cloud automatically.
Not only does this allow you to access them from anywhere, but you can easily recover any pictures you might have lost if your phone gets broken or stolen.
The software also comes with some basic editings such as auto fixing and filters, simple color balancing tools, and adjusting exposure, shadows, and highlights. You can even crop a photo if you need to.
While these features may be okay for the average user, they fall short when it comes to editing for more professional users. However, for the price and ease of use, it definitely does well.
Google Photos Key Features:
- Can backup all photos and videos from any device.
- Searchable via keywords
- Suggests who you might want to share the images with
- Has an albums page
- Easy to print photos to a local CVS or Walmart
Google Photos User Experience:
It’s easy to use Google, and our phones are already connected as we are signed in to our Gmail. This made it easy to look at our pictures from anywhere. The organization and search features were pretty subpar compared to most of the others on this list.
However, we liked that we could access it from anywhere and ay device (so long as we cold remember our password).
Google Photos Cost:
For the first 15GB, Google Photos is free. However, this includes your total Google account, including documents and emails. While this may be enough for the average user, for someone who deals with a lot of pictures in their day-to-day, it probably won’t last long at all.
Thankfully, Google also offers three other options. These are 100 GB, 200 GB, and 2TB. The prices for these vary. Depending on your payment method and storage options, it can cost between $19.99 a year and $120 a year.
What We Like/Dislike About Google Photos:
- Get 15 GB for free, and can purchase more as needed
- Can adjust exposure, color, and brightness of images
- Can automatically capture geolocation to tell you where it is later
- Have a variety of resolutions you can upload a picture to allow for more storage
- No blemish or red-eye removal tools
- Compresses photos larger than 16 megapixels
- Search results and options are a little whacky
Google Photos Scoring:
We are going to give Google Photos a 6 out of 10. While we like that they offer some storage for free, their sorting and search options are pretty funky.
Even when you move something to a folder, it stays among the other images, making it hard to determine what you have and haven’t already organized.
Also, looking things up was pretty hit and miss.
Best Photo Management Software FAQ
Do I need Adobe Bridge or Lightroom?
If you aren’t sure, you can get both with their Creative Cloud membership. However, it matters more on what you are looking for. Adobe Bridge is a great place to start as it is free, and you can always purchase Lightroom if you need a bit more editing software.
What all does Adobe Lightroom do for me?
On top of being a photo management service, Adobe Lightroom also imports, organizes and helps you to find your images. It makes sure your changes are saved, and allows you to handle some basic editing all in one tool.
Check out this article on the Best Procreate Tutorials
How do I organize and manage my photos?
The best way to organize your photos is to start with deleting those that aren’t necessary. Software like Google Photos does best here as it will help suggest photos that are blurry or duplicates.
Other programs can help you sort them into albums or by detail, so everything is in a place easy to access.
Is Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop the same?
No, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, despite being from the same company, are not the same thing. Photoshop is a photo and digital media editing. However, it doesn’t sort and organize, or even store your images like Lightroom does.
While you can get both as part of the Creative Cloud membership, you can also get them as a dual package with Adobe’s Photography membership, so you don’t even have to choose between one.
However, if we did have to choose, we would definitely pick Lightroom, as it provides a lot more features in the same software.
What are the seven modules in Lightroom?
Lightroom has seven main workspace modules known as:
These modules are designed to help you as you go along with the different phases of your workflow, such as organizing, publishing, enhancing, and so on, to make it easier to find the features you need.
Why do I need photo management software?
Photo management software is useful for many different types of people. If you are just someone trying to organize and manage your family history through pictures, management software gives you a place to keep all of those images that are safe, and often backed up. It also provides easy ways to sort and manage the images.
For a professional photographer, however, photo management software can be a personal assistant. It helps you to find the images you are looking for, sort them based on quality and even shutter speeds, and keeps all of your images in one place.
Best Photo Management Software: Final Verdict
That’s our list of the very best management software available at this moment. While there are plenty of others, these are the ones we have tried and highly recommend to anyone that needs management software for their images.
When you are choosing one, take into consideration the cost, storage size, and if you need to continue to pay a membership to keep your photos.
These kinds of questions will help you narrow down what you are looking for and figure out which of the softwares above are perfect for you.
You also need to consider what you need the software for. If you are a professional, high levels of sorting and organizing based on quality, camera settings and more can be beneficial while it may be unnecessary for the average person.
Whichever one you choose from the choices above, you won’t be upset with them. Plus, since none of them cost an arm and a leg for their monthly subscription, your wallet won’t be upset either.