Years back, image management meant shoving Polaroids into a shoebox and pulling them out every once in a while to reminisce. Eventually, that progressed into local storage and management – where businesses and individuals placed images on flash drives, CDs, thumb drives, and hard drives. Evolution took its course and now we see image management software that stores photos in the cloud, with versatile editing tools, and options for sharing directly to services like Flickr, Facebook, and WordPress.
Sure, it’s still a good idea to backup your images on a hard drive, but the possibilities become endless when talking about image editing and management software.
The big question is which of the software options should you consider for your purposes?
Are you running a startup with Instagram and marketing material needs? Do you go to National Parks and enjoy logging your family photos for your kids and grandkids to look at in the future? Or are you a professional wedding photographer who needs a way to instantly compile, manage, and edit photos without any hindrances?
Regardless of your situation, we’ve compiled and evaluated the top online image management tools for you.
What is online image management software?
The goal of a quality online image management software is to organize your photos and other digital media into one centralized location.
The software should make this organization process easy for all users, even those who don’t manage photos on a regular basis.
In addition, most image managers include extra features to expand upon the rudimentary tasks of saving images and placing them into folders. For instance, we typically want to see options for image optimization, and minor editing and distribution – through email, social networks, and to business team members.
Why do you need it?
You may wonder, why can’t I use my handy old hard drive to store and manage photos?
There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, we recommend backing up your important photos on local hard drives as well.
However, an online image management software provides additional benefits:
- Archiving and backup tools to free up space and to ensure the essential photos are always safe.
- Instant sharing buttons with those in your organization, or with users outside of your organization, like on social media or email.
- Privacy settings to block people from looking at or stealing your images.
- Potential watermarks to add another layer of security.
- Cloud storage so as to remove the need to keep buying and housing physical storage units in your home or office.
- Automated duplication and backups from your local storage, even from mobile devices.
- Usage tracking and statistics to understand storage limits and who’s utilizing your images.
- Rapid tagging and search tools to locate images in large libraries.
- Integrations with content management systems and online stores. For instance, you may want to push product photos to your store or images to your blog.
- Real-time editing and communications between team members.
Five of the best image management software options
A quick Google search of image management software delivers an endless collection of options. That’s great from a quantity perspective, but how do you narrow down that search? Quite a few image managers have come out that cater primarily to home use, while others are more for large companies.
We tested the most popular, functional software in this category to decide on which work for both types of situations. Not only that, but we wanted to cover software that provided the occasional unique feature or superior interface for organizing, editing, and publishing your photos.
Here’s the top image management software in the game:
For each software, we break down the features, talk about pricing, and uncover the elements that make each desirable for image management in particular.
- Free Plan: ❌ – a free 30-day trial is available.
- Priced from: Pricing requires you to book a demo. Custom plans are based on storage usage, users, and the number of modules you need.
- Exporting options: There’s a download button with options for quick cropping, multiple formats, and sizes. It also has channel-specific exporting.
- Image editing: Cropping, bulk editing, an inline editor, template builder with drag-and-drop, layers, and filters
- Tools for image visualization: Collections with thumbnails, a template designer, and visual editors. The file previews show images, PDFs, and videos in high-resolution.
- Organization options: Tags, filters, collections, asset metadata, and a Google-style search for locating items.
- Publishing tools: File embed codes for placing images online, sharing with specific users, and publication links to distribute the media.
- RAW image support? ✅
Bynder sells as separate product suites including the digital asset manager (for image management), a creative workflow tool, video brand studio, analytics, and more. Each module is sold on its own but you can speak to a sales representative to either sign up for the digital asset manager by itself or pair it with one of the other tools. As for image management, Bynder offers a compelling interface for organizing files and editing everything from photos to videos and presentations. The inline editor provides drag-and-drop elements for making full marketing materials or fun presentations with overlaying text, video, and images.
Bynder serves as more of a business asset manager, but it’s possible that personal users find value in the rapid-fire designer for changing elements and scaling images in an instant. The Bynder image manager also provides strong sharing and collaboration elements such as real-time edits and sharing with specified users. You receive an email when someone makes a change, and you can organize designs and images for campaigns and send them to the right channel for publishing.
2. Google Photos + Backup and Sync
- Free Plan: ✅ (up to 15GB of storage).
- Priced from: $1.99 per month for 100GB.
- Exporting options: Quick Download button to export the original file to a hard drive.
- Image editing: Quick lighting fixes, filters, rotating, cropping, aspect ratio changes, color adjustments.
- Tools for image visualization: Thumbnails based on date and suggestions for albums.
- Organization options: Albums, archives, dates, times, location tagging, and favorites. There’s also a search bar.
- Publishing tools: Send to a shared album, order custom prints, create a shared link, and send it to Facebook or Twitter.
- RAW image support? Sometimes. There’s a file size limit that severely restricts RAW files.
Google Photos boasts a sleek and simple organization area for your photos, including a free plan that supports the saving of up to 15GB of data. You can also opt for unlimited storage if you’re okay with Google Photos optimizing your media as smaller file sizes. This isn’t great for professionals or users who want to maintain the original file quality, but it’s nice for personal use.
Other than that, Google Photos is the ideal cloud storage for automated backups from your phone, computer, and other devices. You gain access to your photos on any of these devices, and you can even see the images when you’re offline.
Organization is done manually or automatically. Essentially, every item you upload is categorized in some way, whether it’s from the location or the time you took the photo. Also, Google Photos offers slideshow creation and plenty of folders and archiving tools.
The search module uses Google technology to deliver rapid results and accurate images. It’s also worth mentioning that all files you save are shareable to your friends via services on your phone, like WhatsApp, Messenger, and Bluetooth.
3. Adobe Bridge
- Free Plan: ✅
- Priced from: $0 (Bridge is included in the Adobe Cloud, starting at $9.99 per month, or as a standalone app for free).
- Exporting options: Batch exports, scaling options, multiple formats.
- Image editing: Resizing, scaling, and linking to more advanced editing tools like Photoshop.
- Tools for image visualization: Thumbnails and rich previews.
- Organization options: Filters, labels, ratings, metadata, keywords, searching, and collections.
- Publishing tools: Exporting to editing tools and to local hard drives in DNG, TIFF, and PNG formats.
- RAW image support? ✅
Adobe Bridge has a wonderful workflow and interface, yet it’s not that popular with users outside of the Adobe community. Having said that, it’s actually completely free to use if you sign up for an Adobe account or log in with your Facebook profile.
The point of Adobe Bridge is to centralize your photos to link with all other Adobe software, like InDesign and Photoshop. So, there’s the added benefit of that, but you can still utilize the organizational tools if you’re not paying for other Adobe products.
The interface has a learning curve, like all Adobe software, but a few hours inside Bridge reveals the advantages that professional photographers enjoy with filters, libraries, and publishing.
I particularly like that you can see your photo thumbnails and locate them within seconds if you tag them with labels or place them in folders. Pair that with bulk imports and exports and we have one of the best image management software options to choose from.
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- Free Plan: ❌ – a free trial is available.
- Priced from: $49.99 (one-time payment). Upgrades are $29.99.
- Exporting options: Bulk and individual exports, with common file types.
- Image editing: Sharpening, photo filters, effects, cropping, and level horizon.
- Tools for image visualization: Thumbnails and automated collection highlights.
- Organization options: Metadata, filters, names, events, and location tags.
- Publishing tools: Export to all conventional file formats. Send to other Magix products like the Slideshow Maker.
- RAW image support? ✅
The Magix Photo Manager Deluxe software is a popular choice of image manager with a one-time payment and constant feature updates. You’re able to upload, browse, and organize your image collections without much hassle and watch as the automated photo organizer suggests interesting edits for you.
The tool has an option to instantly improve the look of your panoramic shots. It’s also nice to see that you can import media from the cloud, your camera, or a scanner you have in your office.
What’s more, is that the Magix Photo Manager Deluxe software includes automated features for improving and filtering out images that are blurry or not up to professional standards.
You’ll even find several privacy protection elements such as backup copies and a system restore. The password protection is ideal for keeping out intruders, and you can even burn your image files to a CD or DVD. Along with an impressive set of editing tools, Magix Photo Manager Deluxe looks like a wonderful image management solution.
- Free Plan: ✅
- Priced from: Free for the Basic version and $70 for the Classic version.
- Exporting options: Send to editing software and as XML or plain text files to import into just about any software. Send to email, printers, web galleries, or cloud CD burning programs.
- Image editing: Sharpening, smoothing, white balance, hue correction, cropping, scaling, and more.
- Tools for image visualization: Thumbnail images, location-based suggestions, and time-based thumbnail slideshows.
- Organization options: Filters, tagging, folders, geotagging, keywords, categories, and default descriptors based on automated tools. Ratings are available as well.
- Publishing tools: Send to Flickr for immediate publication.
- RAW image support? ✅
StudioLine Photo Basic stands strong next to the competition because of its powerful free version and comprehensive built-in editing tools. Security and privacy are touched on with watermarking and backups. You can link the software to other StudioLine products for extensive editing, or consider taking advantage of the Photo Basic editing by using the histogram and color profiles.
A unique part of the StudioLine Photo Basic software is its ability to support audio clips. For instance, you may have a slideshow with music that you can enhance in the software or even associate the music with certain photos in your collections.
StudioLine Photo Basic also supports video clips without any problems. There aren’t many editing features for videos, but you can still store and organize them with your photos.
I’d like to see additional exporting options, but the Flickr publication tool works wonders for those with Flickr profiles.
Which image management software is right for you?
Seeing as how image management software varies drastically in terms of feature offerings, it’s tough to figure out the tools you need for your business or personal usage. The above offerings have been compared, tested, and evaluated to span a wide range of functionalities while also focusing on the primary elements that are required of all digital asset management systems.
If you still have questions about the best image management software, take a look at our final recommendations:
- Go with Bynder for its design prowess. The built-in editing modules work somewhat like Photoshop or PowerPoint in that you can overlay items like text and video, generating beautiful designs with a few clicks. It’s not free, so it makes the most sense for businesses or those who really want to generate fun materials for Instagram or anything that looks like it might be used for marketing.
- Google Photos + Backup and Sync
- This is the closet thing to an image manager that works for both consumers and businesses. You’re limited with RAW file restrictions, but the storage, organization, and sharing stands out. So, we enjoy it as a free option to store photos, but not if you’re uploading professional images.
- Adobe Bridge
- Use an image manager like this if you’re either used to the Adobe suite of tools or you currently utilize some of them. It’s not a bad choice for non-Adobe users, but there’s a learning curve. It is free, so that’s a perk! The main reason to choose Adobe Bridge is for its organization and tagging system, especially if you have large collections.
- Magix Photo Manager Deluxe
- Go with this one if you have no problem paying for a premium solution that automates much of the editing process for you. The importing, editing, and exporting is streamlined to deliver professional-looking photos without much work on your end.
- StudioLine Photo Basic
- I like this image manager if you’re interested in security essentials, audio and video clip support, and directly publishing photos to Flickr. It also has a free plan if you’re on a budget.
If you have any further questions or thoughts about the best online image management software, give us a comment in the section below! Also, share your thoughts on other image managers that work for consumers and professionals.
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Layout and presentation by Karol K.