Top open source photo organizers

9 open source alternatives to Picasa

Posted 10 Mar 2016 by 

Jason Baker (Red Hat)
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Open source alternatives to Picasa
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Are you a Picasa user?

After over a decade of ownership of the product, Google announced just a few weeks ago that they will be closing the shutters for good on Picasa, a cross-platform photo viewer and organizer with basic editing capabilities. In the official announcement, Google has set March 15 as the end of support for the desktop client, with changes to the accompanying web album hosting service set to roll out later in the spring.

While it wasn’t open source, as free product with a strong commercial backer, Picasa’s desktop client had become quite popular among amateur photographers, and so with news of the project’s discontinuation, many are wondering where to turn next for their photo management needs. Picasa was available across multiple platforms, and while it had not been recently packaged for Linux, it still worked well for many Linux users inside of Wine.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time we’ve had to recommend alternatives to a discontinued Google product; three years ago, we helped you find open source alternatives to Google Reader for your RSS reading needs.

While there’s no word yet on whether Google will release the code for Picasa under an open source license now that it has been discontinued, fortunately for you, there are many open source alternatives already out there to help you with your photo organizing and editing needs.

Photo viewers

For some, the greatest value in Picasa was just as a simple photo viewer and browser; a great to quickly flip through multiple images without waiting for a full fledged editor to load, but going a little above and beyond their operating system's default. Here are some great replacements for that need. Some, like Picasa, offer minor touch-up abilities, while others are strictly viewers.

  • Eye of GNOME, the built-in image viewer with many Linux distributions, does a fine job with displaying images in most common formats, although it is slated to see an upgrade in the near future as GNOME moves towards Sushi for file previews.
  • ImageGlass is another open source basic image viewer, which, while simple, benefits from the speed that comes with being so lightweight, and is a good choice for Windows users.
  • PhotoQt is a Qt-based image viewer for Windows or Linux which is designed to be fast and flexible with thumbnail caching, mouse and keyboard shortcuts, and support of many formats.

Photo organizers

The major functionality of Picasa that puts it above just a photo viewer is photo organizing. Once you’ve got a few hundred photos in your collection, a flat structure just won’t cut it; after a few thousand, it’s simply impossible. Additionally, photos often contain a great deal of metadata which can help in the organization process if you can easily edit it. Here are a few open source tools for organizing your photos.

  • DigiKam is an image organizer that is a part of the KDE family, supports hundreds of different file formats, has multiple different collection organization methods, and supports user plug-ins to extend its functionality. Of the open source image organizers listed here, it's probably the easiest to get working for Windows in addition to its native Linux packaging.
  • Shotwell is an image organizer which you'll find as the default in many GNOME-based distributions. It contains basic editing features like cropping, red eye reduction, and adjusting color levels, in addition to automatic organizing including grouping by date and tagging features.
  • F-Spot is another GNOME image organizer, and while it hasn't been updated in a few years, the older release which features basic tools for amateur photographers including basic editing functions, color adjustments, and exports to the web or photo CDs.
  • gThumb is another image viewer and browser for GNOME which has a similar feature set, including basic editing, web album export, batch renaming, etc.

Web albums

Picasa linked with an online album as well; Google is continuing on this functionality with Google Photos, but there are plenty of open source alternative for this function as well, for anyone willing to host their own web album software.

  • Piwigo is an open source photo gallery program written in PHP with a large community of users and developers, featuring a number of customizable features, themes, and a pluggable interface.
  • Coppermine Photo Gallery, another PHP/MySQL gallery program which you can easily self-host in your own web space, which integrates well into a number of content managers and forum systems.

So how about you? Are you a current or former Picasa user, looking for a new option to manage your photos? Or have you already moved on to something newer, and preferably, open? These certainly aren't all of the options out there, which ones are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.

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35 Comments

Don Watkins

Good article and you're making me think again about how ot move my photos from Flickr to another platform. I'm just using ImageViewer on Gnome currently but I've seen Shotwell and I'll have to check out these others.

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James Mullin

Fotoxx

An image organizer and photo editor. Install Hugin and Fotoxx does easy vertical and horizontal Panorama production and image stacking as well.

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Neil Levine

I actually use a combination of Shotwell and ownCloud. Shotwell nicely sorts photos into date-based directories which I store in an ownCloud sync directory. ownCloud has a built-in image viewer which means you can then view the photos via the web interface from anywhere.

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Jeff McWilliams

You're missing the whole suite of simple edits that can be made from within Picasa: contrast, color balance, lighting, rotate, crop, sharpen, and other simple effects.

Do any of the tools mentioned provide a reasonably complete replacement for all of Picasa's features?

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Dan Schmidt

+1 (hundred!)

Almost all of the features in Picasa I can find somewhere else. However the two reasons I use Picasa are the collection of functionality that most apps get at best 75% of, but primarily the "edit for idiots" features are missing or underpowered in other apps- auto color balancing (I don't know how to do myself and attempts to learn usually leave portraits looking like oompah loompahs), quick red-eye fix, quick blemish fix, etc.

iPhoto is the only app I've found comparible in such features, and ideally I need a MS Windows available app. If Picasa dropped or neutered the edit functions I'd have moved to a different app already, that's it's true appeal.

That it does great at organization, is multi platform, and publishes to one of the few decent usable web gallery services is bonus. Sucks I'll have to find a new gallery provider with a simple usable interface (most are bloated or confusing UIs for simple browsing, lack privacy controls, or are missing obvious basic functions).. But push come to shove I can always go classic html on my own if needed.

Any multi platform options or easy to use retouch options to explore???

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Ed Null

Anything for OSX? I've had a falling out with iPhoto. Just started using Picasa and like it.

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GN

Have you tried Preview.app? It's part of your default OSX installation and should be found in the Applications Directory.

You can open entire folders in a slideshow view, plus all the editing features that Picassa has are also available. Broad export capabilities as well (to change format, image size, compress to a specific file size for uploading to webpages and forums, etc).

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sethkenlon

Preview.app is not open source, as far as I know :-)

A few of the projects in the comments, like Lightzone, do have OS X versions.

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pepperdog

Digikam installs on OS X. I am in the process of migrating from Picasa to Digikam on an older macbook pro running OS 10.9.5

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RTuser

LightZone is professional-level digital darkroom software for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, that includes RAW processing and editing. Rather than using layers in the way that other photo editors do, LightZone lets the user build up a stack of tools which can be rearranged, readjusted, turned off and on, and removed from the stack. It was closed source, but is now available as open source. http://lightzoneproject.org/

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William Entiken
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J G Miller

A helpful article but it should have included a mention of the too oftern overlooked Geeqie which has a lot more features than the basic EyeOfGnome (eog) or EyeOfMate (eom)

It has a function to search for similar looking images which usually provides some very good matches, some basic image processing, support many image formats, as well as integration with Gimp and other image editing software.

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stephl

You missed Xnview MP : http://www.xnview.com/en/xnviewmp/

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georgec

You've also missed the best of all the ones that I've tried: http://rawtherapee.com/
It's FOSS and really impressive.

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Martin Cohen

I use Picasa on both Windows 7 and OS X (10.10) because it manages my fairly large (> 40,000) photo collection the way I prefer - leaves them in place, does facial recognition, and allows easy simple modification. I will continue to use it as long as I can. Since I only use it as a local editor, I am not interested in using any cloud-based system.

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JoeCasa

See the question and answers on stackexchange. http://softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/q/28766/21489

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Paul Walker

The 2 features I want in a replacement for Picasa are:
1) I love that Picasa keeps your original photos and just stores the changes (crop, rotate, colour change etc) as a series of steps in a secondary file. This changes are just reapplied each time your view your photo and the original is untouched.
2) Uploading to Google Photos. I like how this hooks into my Google account and I already have paid storage. I note Google don't provide a Linux uploader (it's Mac and Windows only) and the Web uploader is a bit hit and miss for large albums.

Can anyone recommend something from either this collection of software or elsewhere.

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David Hembrow

Which of the alternatives can import the tags from an existing collection of photos in Picasa? Needing to keep those tags is the only thing that has kept me using this program (under wine)

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pepperdog

Digikam on os x imported my picasa tags just fine

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sethkenlon

Great data point. Thanks for letting everyone know!

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Tom Jackson

Google tells me that current users will be able to continue to use Picasa but they will accept no new users.

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Joris

Picasa as a desktop app is not going to stop magically, you just have to backup the installer (or someone will host it).

Picasa Webalbums is going to be set _read only_. So your data isn't going anywhere but you can't add or change anything.
Google has yet to give any word about a proper replacement or plan for the Picasa Webalbums. I'm kinda pissed of that as a paying user the service just drops but that happens sometimes.

Through Google Takeout you can download all your photos in one big zip file to take it somewhere else. All tags and metadata is in text files with it, but I doubt all programs will import or read this without issues. The data isn't gone and readable that's at least something

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sethkenlon

Lightzone and Darktable are both great cross-platform, non-destructive, open source, photo editors and organisers.

http://lightzoneproject.org/

http://www.darktable.org/

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dukeinlondon

Nice article, but does any of the organiser have face recognition ? That's the one feature I can't do without

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Roger

Gallery Server is a good choice if you don't mind installing it on your own web server. https://galleryserverpro.com

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Otto

Gallery Server is Windows-only and leverages other Microsoft products. :(

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bluonek

ZenPhoto is a great web gallary

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alfabetadigital

xnview is freeware (just saying) and some people also like irfanview. Both are great, though freeware.
getPaint.net has some more advanced features than picasa editor, but it works as a photoshop light sort of thing. It's open source by the University of Washington + microsoft ;)
Digicam seems a great, better in terms of pro features option.
Still, unfortunately, I feel picasa hasn't yet met its match.

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dragonbite

I currently use Shotwell, which does alright. DigiKam included some nice features but most of what I am using it for is to collect digital photos and move the files around, not so much for editing.

The only missing piece I've found is that Google doesn't provide Google Photo Backup for Linux (and after waiting for Google Drive for Linux, I'm not holding my breath even if Google "promises" one ... I can only believe it when I see it).

Shotwell has the ability to "Publish" to Picasaweb, which ends up in Google Photo but it can modify the size (L&W) while the latest iteration of Google Photo make it free for 16MP or less, not by the length & width. So I don't know if I am taking advantage of this free space when I publish from Shotwell. I'm also not sure about digiKam, as I haven't used it in a while.

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burmaexpert

I am using Picasa for 2 year but your article is very helpful.
I am trying Piwigo now, it seems very good.
Thank you

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furicle

The facial recognition is the special sauce that makes me use Picasa, although the simple touch up tools and nondestructive edits are great too.

Does anybody else do facial recog?

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Geo

My mother does. And she also used the easy to use correction tools.
She also uses the Gift CD function.

Picasa is very easy to use. I haven't found anything similar yet.

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penny

Loved picassa (most of the time) Googles replacement offering not much help as it is the photo editing (idiot proof) sorting and storeage I use. Cannot always get good enough on line connection for uploading photos (use memory stick) as travelling around so web storeage not much help. Very sad lost Picassa when I wiped hard drive as last ditch attemp to deal with viruses. Have not found anything as simple to use as Picassa and because I am limited on downloads cannot keep trying diferent ones

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Gerrie1604

Facial recognition is what I use most plus the ability to sort the fotos on date and select them with a star.
Also nice is the ability to create a face-movie and foto-collage.
I now have 20.000 fotos scanned for facial regognition with 60 different persons.
I have my own system for storage and backup so I don't want to use cloud storage or backup.
Which program has the same functionalit as Picasa and is able to read the Picasa-files so I don't have to repeat the face-recognition?

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allie

Hey! I've only just found out about the change. I
would happily pay an annual fee to keep Picasa with all its present functions. It is too much for my 60+brain to cope with the change. I am a very keen amateur photographer

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Jason is passionate about using technology to make the world more open, from software development to bringing sunlight to local governments. He is particularly interested in data visualization/analysis, DIY/maker culture, simulations/modeling, geospatial technologies, and cloud computing, especially OpenStack. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.