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Remember back in the day, before the digital age, when you had a mountain of photos you had to sort through to separate the good photos from the bad ones? Then you had to buy the photo albums to put the good photos in. And finally, for you highly organized types, you had to label each and every photo. How long did this process take? Half a day? A week? It was a complicated, manual affair to organize photos this way, and one that could drag on for days, or weeks, or even years!
Now, with the ever-rising popularity of digital cameras and their near-limitless capacity for image-capturing, people are snapping more photos than ever. Photos on film that used to cost a few dollars to purchase and another $5 to $8 to get developed would cost a fortune given the way we snap away on our digital cameras.
The good news is that with digital images, you can print only the photos you like, and, of course, memory cards are becoming much more affordable. But, as you'll see in a minute, less expensive memory cards may, strangely enough, also be bad news: larger photo image sizes in the newer digital cameras mean more space taken up on the hard drive, thus the need to buy more of the now-cheaper memory cards. You know where I'm headed with all this: more digital photos than ever to deal with. We face an even larger and more time-consuming problem today than we ever did when we manually organized our photo prints.
Luckily, ACD Systems, has come out with ACDSee 9 Photo Manager. I used an older version of ACDSee back in 2000 and version 9 is excellent. It lets you easily organize all your photos in a variety of ways such as by keyword, caption, rating, and category. The program also has a powerful search function that lets you quickly find the photos you're looking for by way of the keywords, captions, categories, or file names associated with your images. And the powerful engine supports more than 100 different image file types.
Viewing all of your photos is fast and easy with ACDSee 9, and the software has incorporated many cool features that make it easy to share your images--features such as creating a slideshow file, exporting your images to a website, exporting the images to a DVD or CD, and creating a contact sheet.
ACDSee 9 lets you do basic photo manipulation such as rotating pictures and includes basic photo editing tools such as a shadow/highlight tool, which fixes poorly lit exposures without affecting the rest of the image. There's also a red-eye removal tool that easily and automatically fixes any red-eye problems on a photo after you click near the affected area. Release 9 of ACDSee Photo Manager also incorporates new security features, and lets you create private folders so that only you can view the images in that folder.
Finally, I must mention a new feature in this release called the Calendar Events View, which automatically rearranges your photos based on the date you took the pictures. I think this calendar view is actually pretty cool, as you can view photos by events, monthly or yearly, or by day. When you're in the month view, you'll see the calendar with every day of the month, and ACDSee 9 will bold the days where you have photos. This method of viewing gives you yet another way to organize and view all your photos!
My only minor complaint is that the user interface can get cluttered with different toolboxes and tabs. But overall, this product shines.
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Price to ValueRating What's Hot:
ACDSee Systems has done a great job with ACDSee 9 Photo Manager. This is the must-buy software for anyone purchasing a digital camera for the first time. If you're in this crowd, you will want the ability to keep all your images organized and to easily share them with others. ACDSee 9 is your answer. The price point of $39.99 is very attractive and with all the features the software includes, it's a steal!
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Installation & SetupRating What's Hot:
Installing this program is very straightforward; nothing out of the ordinary to report. There's your customary install wizard that allowed me to install this program without any problems.
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Product FeaturesRating What's Hot:
ACDSee 9 Photo Manager comes with an impressive set of features, which include the aforementioned Shadow/Highlight tool and Calendar Events View; Quick View mode, which lets you instantly see your images, whether opening an email attachment or double-clicking a photo in Windows Explorer; Desktop Showroom, which allows you to create either a slideshow or a screensaver with the photos that you've selected; Private Folders, which allow the user to lock up and protect photos in a secure area with a password; and Auto Categories, which can sort out all photos via different categories such as aperture, author, and file size; and more.
With such an amazing feature set and the software's powerful image browsing, organizing, security, and quick photo touch-up abilities, there isn't anything that ACDSee 9 Photo Manager can't do!
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User InterfaceRating What's Hot:
The user interface for viewing photos in ACDSee 9 Photo Manager lets you browse your directories, and with one click, see a preview of your image as well as its EXIF data. EXIF data is information that your digital camera writes to the file of the photo that you're taking. Information such as shutter speed, date and time, and focal length, are included in the EXIF data. The interface supports the metadata of IPTC headers (this is Adobe Systems' metadata structure). You can edit the metadata, which includes a copyright notice, photographer name, photographer title, credit, source, and information regarding the origin of the photograph. I was very impressed with ACDSee 9's easy-to-edit metadata and property information.
What's Not:The user interface can get cluttered, and some of the features require you to drill down a bit more through menus and mouse clicks. However, the software's strong feature set offset the minor annoyance of any extra clicking I had to do.
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PerformanceRating What's Hot:
ACDSee 9 Photo Manager really nails it in terms of performance. Startup time from application execution to a working/usable screen was very quick. I didn't experience any issues with regard to viewing my photos and scrolling through them. The ACDSee engine was able to sort through all the different file formats without a hitch. I had some Canon digital RAW files and I was able to view them without any problems.
You can improve ACDSee 9's performance by using its built-in Catalog Files Wizard. This wizard generates thumbnails and adds image information to the ACDSee database, and makes browsing thumbnails and reading all your photos' properties much quicker. The option to use the wizard is a great addition, as it allows users to speed up their browsing, especially if they're like me and have thousands and thousands of photos. However, even without using the Catalog Files Wizard, all my thumbnails and information popped up quite quickly.
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Security & PrivacyRating What's Hot:
As mentioned earlier, ACDSee 9 Photo Manager includes an exceptional security feature in Private Folders. You can secure any file or directory with a password so that only you can access it.
Also worth noting: while reviewing the software, I didn't run into any issues of ACDSee 9 Photo Manager installing any spyware or malware.
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Help & SupportRating What's Not:
I didn't really like the help and support features of ACDSee 9 Photo Manager. The Quick Start Guide was one of the first things I saw when I started up ACDSee 9 and that first impression was not a pleasant one. The Quick Start Guide is just a one-page splash screen with steps outlining how to retrieve photos from a digital camera, as well as how to find photos on your computer. This guide should have been more interactive, as this software will likely be used by non-technical people who would benefit from a more intuitive step-by-step guide.
Also, I was quite disappointed to see that the tutorials for ACDSee required me to be connected to the Internet. Some of these tutorials may be of interest to new users, such as fixing up red-eye, but having to connect to the Internet is an extra step that isn't very user-friendly.
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ACD Systems should improve the Quick Start Guide so that it is more interactive, and make the tutorials available without having to be connected to the Internet.
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ConclusionACDSee 9 Photo Manager is an excellent photo organizing, viewing, and sharing program. Despite its powerful browsing and organizing engine, I found this software to be extremely easy to use and I would recommend it to both newbies and expert users alike.