There seems to be no end in sight for ways to store, display, organize digital photos on your Mac. But look how we’ve progressed.
It used to be we kept all our film photos and negatives in a shoebox in the closet. Now we can keep our digital photos in a Shoebox on the Mac.
Shoebox, the digital photo catalog for your Mac, is now at version 1.5, loaded with features, mature and stable.
Does this mean that there’s something wrong with iPhoto? Opinions vary, though there are plenty of alternatives for iPhoto. Some, like Kodak’s EasyShare, mimic iPhoto. EasyShare is free.
Shoebox is an attractive Mac application that I want to like. What’s it do?
You got digital photos and need to store them, archive them, find them, burn them to CD/DVD, categorize them, look at them. iPhoto does all that.
I want to like Shoebox but I struggle to find a reason to pay the $29 fee.
Shoebox differs substantially from iPhoto in one important area. Archive. Look at this list of features and see how familiar they are to you.
Shoebox gives you a simple, straightforward Mac-like interface for viewing your photos. Traversing thousands of photos is similar to using the Finder, so there’s no new learning curve.
Photos can be viewed by favorites, by month, by year, by day, by event, or you can use Spotlight. Add keywords, and you can search for Flowers, Children, Grandparents, Vacations, and so on.
One area of difference with Shoebox is catalogs. You can still organize the photos you keep in iPhoto and create multiple ‘catalogs.’ I haven’t figured out how this differs from iPhoto’s Albums.
Regardless, Shoebox says 100,000 photos is no problem. Multiple catalogs? No problem. Catalogs by client (assumes you want to go pro—that’s a $79 version of Shoebox).
Here’s a feature I really like, though. Shoebox lets you create multiple shoeboxes, so to speak. You can catalog and store photos on any disk, even multiple disks; including external hard drives, or DVDs.
Most of us keep our digital photos in JPEG format, though Shoebox does great by handling RAW, JPEG, DNG, CRW, PNG, NEF, TIFF, GIF, and more.
Shoebox assumes you have a photo editor and lets you open it with a single click to edit photos (as with Photoshop Elements, GraphicConverter, et al), but doesn’t edit by itself, so there’s one major feature that’s different from iPhoto.
If there’s a major area of difference between Shoebox and iPhoto and EasyShare, it’s photo organization.
The ‘catalog’ metaphor is quite nice, as you can assign organization keys, multiples if needed, to any photo. What, where, when, who, and so on. Shoebox will import photos from iPhoto and Cumulus (another photo organizer).
Assume you only want to view the most recent photos? Click. Done. Assume you want to view a certain selection of favorites (all of Grandman)? Click.
Looking by category? Zoom in on photos via icons.
One of the major problems all these ‘photo organizing’ applications have is that there’s no automatic way to insert keywords. Yes, I know that’s my responsibility, but it’s still not easy.
For example, for each and every photo, I have to insert the appropriate keywords which make organization so effective.
Except, that action, creating and inserting the keywords, is painful when you just shot 100 photos of Grandma’s birthday party. Since we don’t do film anymore, we’re shooting five times as many photos.
Maybe I should use the ‘delete key’ more often, but I don’t.
There’s no magic in Shoebox’s method of viewing photos, and in some ways it’s superior to iPhoto and EasyShare, and others.
My favorite is the ‘Dual Display’ slideshow. Thumbnails show up on one screen, while the photos show up in another. That’s not much more efficient than iPhoto’s method, but handy.
Like iPhoto and others, Shoebox will let you share your photos via Apple’s Mail.
See? You can tell I’m looking for ways to justify the $29 purchase. It’s just that Shoebox needs more than a cute name (better than iPhoto), and a few extra features to justify the cost. Still, your mileage may vary.
Let us know what you think. For now, I’m sticking with iPhoto.