We’re deep in the middle of the digital revolution. We have thousands of songs in iTunes and thousands more photos in iPhoto.
Is there a better way to store and manage photos? Yes. But cough up the cash. This is not your mother’s shoebox full of photos.
We’re always looking for a new and better way to do what is old and not so good. iPhoto is old, but does the job with our digital photos, now nearing 10,000 in number.
There must be a dozen ways to organize your digital photo colleciton on a Mac, and one of the best is free. iPhoto isn’t perfect, but it’s very capable and a breeze to use.
The price tag is hard to beat, which means that if a Mac developer plans to charge for an application that does what iPhoto does, it better do something different and much better.
Enter the old non-digital format photo organizer. The shoebox. KavaSoft’s version of the digital Shoebox goes where iPhoto doesn’t.
This Shoebox doesn’t even look like iPhoto. In fact, it looks sufficiently different that the first impression is daunting. Is there more behind the skin? Yes.
Shoebox lets you organize digital photos by content. Each photo gets added to a category. Think of categories as folders for people, events, dates, and so on. Shoebox tries to learn what is in each photo, then finding the photo is a snap. Or a click.
iPhoto isn’t bad because all your photos are in the Library, and you can quickly segregate them into Albums. Shoebox goes far beyond that simple method with more categories than you can imagine. Dates, People, Places, Things, Art, Clothing, Buildings, and on and on.
Browse the photos by all those categories, then view them just as you view files in the Finder, by line, by icon, by full photo, and sorted by everything thinkable—name, size, rating, category, whatever.
Shoebox is more complicated than a shoebox and more so than iPhoto. What would you expect? Shoebox has a price tag.
The toughest area to master is the Categories. Rather, getting your photos content to match the categories.
The Shoebox Info Drawer is that handy area which tells you everything about a particular photograph, and not just the camera details such as exposure, F-Number, ISO speed, and so on. You also get the ratings info, and those ever pesky Categories.
Browsing your photos via the Categories folder is as easy as it sounds. Click on a folder and all the photos inside can be displayed on your Mac. Click on a photo for more details.
Adding folders is a mere click. Adding photos to a folder is a mere click. There’s none of that organizational capability visible in iPhoto.
Shoebox even lets you browse the photos while they’re still on your camera or in your memory card. If you take lots of photos but don’t keep them all, this is a very handy time saver over the import method in iPhoto.
iPhoto? Yes, Shoebox even imports photos from iPhoto and can organize them on the fly. All of this just sounds soooo easy, right? What’s missing?
Adding photos to Categories in Shoebox is easy but tedious, though not as daunting as typing in category names for each photo. For any given photo you can choose categories from a list, or type in the first letter or two and select the suggested category.
T. E. D. I. O. U. S. Did I mention that’s the tedious part? I don’t know as though there’s an easy way to do it. My drag and drop method in iPhoto is faster, but less accurate and the end result is hundreds of Albums. Don’t go there.
Shoebox is not iPhoto. If you’re into digital photos and go well beyond 25,000 photos to 100,000 and more, the search and categorization capability in Shoebox makes life better than iPhoto.
More photo and image formats are supported in Shoebox than iPhoto. It even spans screens—put thumbnails on one Mac display, the photos on another. Shoebox even burns photos to CDs or DVDs.
Shoebox Express lets you create two catalogs and put up to 10,000 photos in each, then view 1,000 photos at a time. That’s for about $30. For almost $80, you get Shoebox Pro which handles unlimited numbers of everything.
Is it worth the money? If you deal in many photos with many categories, yes. iPhoto is not a good organizing tool for tens of thousands of photos and Shoebox is.