Why I use and recommend ACDSee for managing photos…

I’m no longer a fan of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.  Despite teaching Adobe for many years, personally I’ve always preferred Paint Shop Pro.  Today, I still do most editing in two versions of Corel’s Paintshop Pro.

But I organize my images in ACDSee…..and here’s why, and why ACDSee can actually be the ONLY software you need, especially when you’re first getting started.

First of all, you don’t have to import.  Importing in Lightroom is an offensively bad feature.  It makes it difficult to know where your files actually ARE.  It adds clumsy steps to your workflow…..and those steps are PROVEN unnecessary by ACDSee, which can be setup to look essentially like Windows Explorer:

No importing, you just navigate to a folder full of images, and when you open it, ACDSee starts creating thumbnail/previews.

Clicking on one image highlights it, and displays a larger preview version.  That preview can include a histogram but I usually leave that turned off.

At any point you can expand the view to include the complete exif/image data, you can also sort the images in the folder using the exif data, or pretty much any variable.

You can select one or more images in this “manage” tab and then batch process them.  I frequently use this for renaming and resizing but you can also batch EDIT or batch DEVELOP.

So far, ACDSee is dramatically easier to use than Lightroom in my opinion.

In the manage view, you can rate your images 1-5….this is handy for sorting them.  I very quickly scroll through in a single file and label my “keepers” as “1” then power delete everything else.

From the “manage” screen, you can highlight an image and click over to the “develop” tab.

Just like with Lightroom, or other RAW developers, you can adjust the image…in the case of RAW images, these changes aren’t permanent, they can be undone.  But these tools can also be applied to virtually any image file, jpeg, bmp, tiff, png.

You can apply a set of changes to a batch of images, just like in LR.

Back at the “manage” screen, you can also highlight an image and click “edit”

…this opens the image up in a traditional, full editor like Photoshop.  You have all the usual tools including layers and text.   While you use “develop” or “edit,” the manage tab is always available in the upper right, and the current open folder is available across the bottom.

One of my favorite features of ACDSee is it’s not proprietary….it plays well with just about any other software, and from the “manage” tab I can drag an image directly into other apps:

…while ACDSee does a pretty good job as a full-fledged RAW developer and photo editor, I still have a personal preference for Paintshop Pro, and I’ll drag images directly from my organizer (ACDSee) into open PSP software.  I can also drag directly onto the timeline of a video editor or into a browser or into this blog editor.  ACDSee doesn’t mind working with other software.

I’ll drag from ACDSee to PSP, edit, hit save, and when I click back to ACDSee that file has been updated with the changes.

ACDSee is great for:
Organization:  10 out of 10
Batching:  10 out of 10
Developing: 8 out of 10
Editing: 7 out of 10

…as an organizer I primarily use a folder structure that makes sense to my own brain…but ACDSee also lets me make “collections” or change the tags and do searches.  It’s truly complete as an organizer.

I bought my last, new, version of ACDSee Photostudio 2018 Ultimate on ebay for $20.  I’m not saying that’s the only or the best way to do it, but it was a legit, full download with a working serial number…..

for 20 bucks.

Even if you opt for the latest version, straight from the ACDSee website, it’s usually $99…buy it once and you’re good for years.