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Business in Vancouver: News that works for you

    Photo tools succeed in their organizational tasks

    by  Alan Zisman (c) 2003 First published in Business in Vancouver ,  Issue #720 August 12- 18, 2003 High Tech Office  column

    What do you do with your photos? Are they organized into albums or crammed into shoeboxes, awaiting your attention. Digital cameras result in even more photos being taken; the clutter of unsorted photos has moved from the closet to the hard drive.

    Photo album software allows users to retrieve photos from camera, scanner, and hard drive, view small thumbnail images and organize their photo collections. Typically, users can print in a range of sizes, email photos, or create online albums. Affordable (around $70) options include:

    • Jasc Paint Shop Photo Album ( from the makers of Paint Shop Pro photo editor. Vertical tabs on the left make it easy to move from photo browsing to viewing information, to editing keywords and searching for photos. A built-in image editor includes red-eye correction, an AdjustWizard, excellent cropping features, and a one-step quick-fix tool.

    The large set of print templates lets users select a template, and drag photos to the page to print multiple images or multiple sizes of the same image.  The email feature automatically resizes large photos for easier sending and viewing. You can create photo slide shows, set musical backgrounds, and output them to disc or set one as your Windows screen saver.

    • ACDSee comes from Victoria’s ACD Systems ( It’s the fastest at loading and displaying large collections of photos, supports the most graphics file formats, and does an especially good job getting photos from cameras and scanners.

    ACDSee also shines at resizing, renaming, or converting the file formats of batches of photos at once.

    Its interface is easily customized; multiple interface arrangements can be created and stored.

    It includes an external program, ACD FotoCanvas, which includes a strong set of image editing features. If you’ve saved photos onto multiple CDs, ACDSee can show you thumbnails of all your photos letting you browse your collection without loading the discs, and then prompting you for the proper CD when you want the full-sized image. You can print contact sheets, specifying the number of photos per page but you’re limited to a single size at a time.

    It’s easy to create and view a slide show, but you can’t save it for distribution or use it as a screen saver. ACDSee customers have free access to the company’s SendPix service for posting pictures on the Web.

    • Photoshop Album is the newest addition to Adobe’s Photoshop lineup. Its clean interface makes it afterwards the easiest to work with. It simplifies labeling and organizing large groups of photos; just drag groups of pictures and drop them on the appropriate category, making it easier to find pictures later. But if you haven’t bothered to categorize your photos, a timeline along the top helps you quickly find the photos you shot, say, on holidays last July.

    Building on its Photoshop heritage, it includes powerful but easy to use photo enhancement tools such as a series of ‘one-click correct’ options. I especially liked the ability to add simulated flash and backlighting to pictures. This may provide all the photo enhancement many will need, though owners of Adobe’s affordable and powerful Photoshop Elements will find the two programs play nice together.

    Well-designed print tools make it easy to squeeze as many pictures as possible onto that expensive photo paper. And Album is the only program in its class to allow users to output pictures to PDF format.

    Full versions of Paint Shop Photo Album and ACDSee can be downloaded and used for a trial period; Adobe has made a downloadable ‘Starter Edition’ (limited to 250 photos) available for try-out.

    Mac users who’ve upgraded to OS X will probably be happy with Apple’s built-in iPhoto; users of older Mac systems may want to look at ACDSee, the only one of the three with a Mac version.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan