Photo Organization Software: What the Pros Recommend



If you’re new to photo organizing, we want to give you the inside scoop on how to (finally!) tame your photo collection. If you’ve been around for a while, we hope you find some nuggets of valuable information in these “What the Pros Recommend” posts as well! Make sure to subscribe to get notified of new posts, our podcasts and get a freebie too!!

Let’s get started!

If you’re like most people these days, you have hundreds or even thousands of digital photos on your phone, tablet, and computer (and maybe some photos hiding on your old media and devices too!). But it’s hard to truly enjoy those photos and the memories they represent until you organize your collection. What’s the best way to get organized? Photo organization software.

Of course, there are a lot of photo organization software options, so to save you the headache of reading endless pages of software reviews, we put together a list. Wherever you are in your photo organization journey, we’ve got you covered: our list includes beginner, intermediate and pro-level options.

A few words to the wise

Backup, backup, backup!

Before we get started, we have to tell you this. Back up your photos! Do not pass go, do not collect $100, do not do anything without backing up your photos. Things happen, and when you’re learning how to use new photo organization software, it can be easy to accidentally delete a photo or make changes that can’t be undone. Back up and be prepared!

Why You Should Use Photo Organization Software

The most important reason to use photo organization software is to rename your photos. Imagine looking at all your photos and instead of seeing file names like:


you see:


Much better! Not only is this nicer to look at, but it also makes it a whole lot easier to search for photos from a specific event or date.

Sure, you can do this in the finder or file explorer on your computer, but photo organization software makes the process a whole lot easier and faster.

Another benefit of using photo organization software? Once you’ve organized your collection, you can do more with it! Hurray! How many hundreds of photos are “trapped” on your phone? When you know right where to find your favorite photos, it’s easy to use and enjoy them. Creating digital photo albums, slideshows, and collages goes a lot faster when your photos are organized. Then, the really fun part: share them with friends and family!


How to Choose the Best Photo Organization Software

As professional photo organizers, there is one key feature we look for in photo organization software: embedded metadata.

What does this mean? When you make changes to the name, time and date or other information associated with a photo, we want those changes to stick to the photo, no matter where you open the photo in the future.

With some photo organization software, you’ll lose all the changes you make to the metadata if you transfer to another photo management system. Not good! You don’t want to lose your hard work, so make sure your photo organization software preserves these metadata changes.
Of course, we’ve got you covered: all three options we’re sharing in this blog post preserve your metadata.

Beginner Level: Adobe Bridge

A Free and Easy-to-Use Photo Organization Tool

Adobe Bridge is a free digital asset management program for Adobe Creative Cloud. But you don’t have to use Adobe Creative Cloud to use Adobe Bridge’s photo organization features. It’s the most basic of our three recommendations, making it the best option for beginners who are looking for simple, straightforward photo organization software.

What do we like about Adobe Bridge? Features like bulk import and export, batch processing, and metadata editing make it easy to start organizing your photos.

Get Adobe Bridge

Intermediate Level: Adobe Photoshop Elements

Artificial Intelligence-Powered Organization Plus Editing

If you’re looking for an all-in-one photo organization and editing tool, we recommend Adobe Photoshop Elements. It works well as photo organization software while also providing easy-to-use options to edit and share your photos.

Aside from the basics you need to organize your photos, like metadata editing and batch processing, Photoshop Elements provides some slick AI-powered features like facial recognition and Auto Curate, which automatically groups photos by quality, faces, subjects and more.

Of course, once you organize your collection, it’s time to enjoy your memories. Photoshop Elements makes it simple with step-by-step guided edits. intelligent editing and auto creations, driven by Adobe’s AI capabilities.

If you’re looking for photo organization software with integrated editing capabilities, we think you’ll like Photoshop Elements.

Get Adobe Photoshop Elements

Professional Level: Photo Mechanic

The Best of The Best in Photo Organization Software

If you’re a photo organization professional or you’re ready to get serious about organizing your own photos, Photo Mechanic is hands-down the software for you. It’s the photo organization software we’ve been using since 2012, and it’s indispensable software for anyone starting a photo organization business.

When you’re working with thousands of photos, speed is key, and Photo Mechanic is built for it. Originally developed for photojournalists and professional photographers, Photo Mechanic allows you to quickly import, view, and sort and batch rename your photos.

Photo Mechanic is the highest-priced option in our list, but it’s well worth the price if you want to “go pro.” Bonus, if you join us over at PPO Insider we have an exclusive discount code. We also have a Photo Mechanic organizing tutorial inside of membership that will cut your learning curve in half!

Get Photo Mechanic

What the Pros Recommend: Which Photo Organization Software is Right for You?

If you’re new to photo organizing and you’re looking for software with basic capabilities, Adobe Bridge is a solid choice. User-friendly and free, it’s easy to start organizing your photos with Adobe Bridge.

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive solution than Adobe Bridge, try Adobe Photoshop Elements. With its AI-driven organization and editing features, you don’t need to be a pro to get great results with this software.

Finally, if you love photos like we do and you’re thinking about becoming a professional photo organizer, try Photo Mechanic. We consider it essential for anyone in the business of organizing photos.

If you love organizing photos and would like to learn how to turn that passion into profitability click here to learn more about becoming a PPO Insider member

8 thoughts on “Photo Organization Software: What the Pros Recommend”

  1. When you say that these applications “handle metadata correctly”, do you meant that it updates the metadata with the tags, geolocation and other data that you update in the program?

    Alternatively, maybe you meant that it can correctly reads and display all of the metadata stored in the image by your camera?

    1. Hi John,
      What we mean by “handle metadata correctly” is that any changes you make to your photos (inside the software), like changing the file name, adding a description, adding keywords, etc.. stay with the photo when you export it. If you do a lot of work on your photos and then export them you want to know that your work is permanently embedded in your photos.

      1. Thanks for the clarification Rita. I’ve wasted time in the past with programs that keep their own database of information separate to the photos. Stop using their application and you lose all your keywords, etc.

    1. Hi Jane,
      You are welcome!! We have a lot more coming in this series of posts so stay tuned!

  2. OMG – yes to everything you’ve posted here! I am so glad to see you recommending Adobe Bridge, then Photoshop Elements, and PhotoMechanic. They all handle metadata like they should and are great options for different levels of users. I use Forever Storage and so use Forever Historian as my photo management software – they work so well together it just makes sense – kinda like iPhones and iPads – same ecosystem and it offers advantages. I appreciate your post!

    1. Hi Taneya,
      Thanks for your comment – we love that you have used the recommended software options. Handling metadata correctly is so important to preserve all your hard work organizing and naming your photos!

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