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Review: ACDSee Photo Manager 12

27 April 2010, Mike Williams

ACDSee Photo Manager 12 is a comprehensive image organiser that can also help import, view, enhance and share the very best of your digital photos.

Launch the program and initially Photo Manager looks much like any other image organiser. There’s an Explorer-type folder list, a pane of photo thumbnails, double-click any to get a closer look: it all seems very familiar. Take a moment to explore, though, and Photo Manager’s advantages soon become clear.

It’s easy to find the photos you need, for instance. Just hover the mouse cursor over a thumbnail and you’ll see a larger preview image. And a Windows-style Quick Search box lets you search for image names or metadata, like the photographer or photo location.

The program also imports metadata from your photos, and lets you filter by this in a few clicks. If you take photos with different devices – a digital camera and mobile phone, say – then browsing to Photo Properties > Camera Make should show you both. Choose one and Photo Manager will display the images taken from that device only.

It’s also straightforward to rate, and categorise photos. And then you can organise your photos in many different ways. It’s possible to filter by categories and rating; group by various metadata, folder name, image size and more; or sort by file name, caption, rating, keyword, any metadata item and more. No matter how large your image collection, Photo Manager will help you get better organised so it’s easy to find the photos you need.

Import and edit

Each special effect has its own thumbnail preview

Photo Manager 12 can help with tedious tasks, like image importing. A dedicated “ACDSee Device Detector” lives in your system tray, from where it’s always looking for newly connected devices or discs containing images. By default it’ll pop up when any are detected, and ask you what to do, but you can also have the program automatically import the images without hassling you at all.

If a particular photo isn’t quite up to your usual standards then the program can help there, too, with a basic but capable set of editing tools. So there are tweaks to address exposure problems, colour balance, lighting, sharpness and so on. A Red Eye Reduction tool works as you’d expect, you can rotate, flip, crop and resize pics in a few seconds, and an excellent Text tool makes it easy to add attractive captions.

You get a Special Effects section, too, which contains more than 40 filters that can be applied to your chosen photo. Some of these are lacking in adjustments; click “Oil Paint” or “Pencil Drawing”, say, and there’s no option to tweak the results if they’re not to your tasks.

Other filters work very well, though. “Water” adds shimmering water to the foreground of an image, reflecting objects immediately above; “Scattered Tiles” is a decent mosaic filter; and “Old” creates the look of an aging photo. In general it’s a better set of effects than we’d expect for a program of this type.

Export options

Once you’ve got your photos in order and looking their best then it’s time to share them with the rest of the world. And ACDSee Photo Manager 12 provides plenty of ways to make this happen.

Customise your slideshow with fancy transitions

For example, the Create Slideshow Wizard can convert your selected photos into a standalone slideshow (EXE format), a Windows screensaver (SCR) or Flash file (SWF). In each case you’re able to set a fancy transition effect and choose a slide duration, and the EXE and SCR slideshows can include image captions and audio, too.

Choose the Create Video option and the program will help you create a video from your photos. This has even more options – you can embed existing videos, images and audios into the finished project – and the final results can be exported as a WMV, AVI, MPEG-1 or MOV file (if Apple QuickTime is installed on your PC).

Other export options allow you to turn photos into plain PDF files, PDF slideshows or PowerPoint presentations. You can burn selected images to CD or DVD, as a data disc or HTML slideshow. And a Contact Sheet feature gives you complete control over thumbnail printouts.

Photo Manager can also upload your photos to an FTP site, send them directly to Flickr or SmugMug, or even publish them to ACDSee Online, ACD System’s own photo hosting service. You can upload as many photos as will fit into your free 2GB of storage space, then organise them into password-protected albums for family and friends only, or public ones that are open to the world.


Photo Manager 12 isn’t perfect, of course. The interface can be a little confusing at first, with multiple layers of menus; it takes a little while to learn your way around; and the program crashed a couple of times, for reasons we never quite understood.

Still, if other image organisers never seem quite powerful enough, then it’s well worth investing a little time in learning the Photo Manager basics. Because this program is packed with useful functions, everywhere you look.

There’s a screen capture tool, for instance. A “duplicate image” finder. And some very handy batch processing tools that will quickly modify all the images your specify, to convert their file format, resize or rename them, adjust their exposure, time stamp and more.

A “Compare Images” tool displays the images you specify side-by-side for easy comparisons. You’re able to compact photos into an archive file with the minimum of clicks (ZIP, TAR, CAB and other formats are supported). And the Sync Wizard synchronises a particular folder with a network drive or external hard drive for easy, near automatic backup: very convenient.

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