Adobe Photoshop makes an excellent photo editor for computers, but it lacks some (or any) of the organizational ability that you might need.
Termed “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom,” Photoshop’s photo manager offers amateur and professional photographers a great way to organize and edit their photos. When combined with Photoshop, it is great for both editing and organization.
But that means two subscriptions and two programs. If Lightroom is not right for you, there are other alternatives.
An Overview of Lightroom
Before you look at the alternatives to Photoshop’s photo managing tool, you need to know if it might be a good option for you. The program certainly does have a lot to offer. With it, you can manage up to 10,000 photos on your computer or through the iOS or Android app.
Editing features include tools like the healing brush, premade or custom made filters, and batch processing. It is not heavy in editing features, but it is, after all, a photo manager.
Ideally, you can pair it with a Photoshop subscription to get all of the editing tools. But even without it, you can do some great things for photo organization. You can flag images, automatically tag their location, and leave notes about images.
Lightroom has a good selection of features and works well to meet all of your photo sorting needs. It is also very simple to share photos with the program. However, you do need a subscription to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC for the app to be available.
What are the best Lightroom alternatives?
If you do not like what Photoshop’s organizer offer, you have a few other choices. Each one has its merits. To help you choose the best app for your needs, here are the top five alternatives.
This photo manager uses open-source code, so it is completely free. It is available for Windows, Mac, or Linux. And it has some great organizational features.Thumbnails of images load very fast, and you can send photos to the editor of your choice with one click. It also allows parallel editing and batch processing. However, it does not have tons of search options, so sorting through your images can take some time.
The editing features of this program are strong. First and foremost, it uses non-destructive editing. You do not have to worry about starting from scratch every time you want to undo an effect. The app gives you the ability to reduce noise from your photos, enhance details, and use tonality tools (like shadow tools and tone mapping).
- Free download
- Good organizational and editing features
- Thumbnails quick to load
- Interface is a little clunky
- Weak for file management
Another open source program, Darktable is also free. It is available on Mac, Linux, and other less common operating systems. The program allows you to view your images in a database and also comes with some editing tools.
With Darktable, you can rate your images, tag them, and color label them. There are a variety of different ways that you can search through your collection to find the photo you want. The assortment of editing tools is impressive; you can apply a variety of effects, play with the color and tone, and do all of the basic edits (like cropping and rotating) that you might expect.
Darktable has a surprising amount of tools, and learning all of them can take some time. So, this is one program that has a bit of a learning curve. And because it’s not the most common program for photo management, it can be difficult to find helpful resources on it.
- Sleek user interface
- Wide variety of editing tools
- Free download
- Easy to search through photos
- Not available for Windows (unless you are tech savvy enough to program it yourself)
- Steep learning curve
Also free to download, Photoscape is a useful photo manager. It is available for Widows or Mac computers. The program is very basic, but does give you a way to work with a large volume of pictures efficiently. There is a batch editor for processing multiple photos at once, as well as a Page tool that allows you to organize your photos into one picture.
However, searching the search options are limited and it is not as much of an organizational powerhouse as some of the other Lightroom alternatives. Photoscape does offer basic editing tools, like cropping, adding filters, and adding text to your images.
- Free to download
- Last release was 2014
- More basic than other options
- Limited search and tagging ability
A free option for Linux users, Shotwell is not as feature-rich as the other photos on this list. The program groups photos and videos by their dates, and also allows you to tag images. Through Shotwell, you can publish to YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, and other sites.
Shotwell is more of a photo viewer than it is a photo organizer . It does do some basic editing, like rotating, cropping, straightening, adjusting red eye, and enhancing images. Overall, it is limited in its abilities and is not designed for organizing and sorting through thousands of images.
- Loads images quickly
- Not good with very large collections
- Only for Linux
The cost of this program varies depending on the source, but it costs about $50. And it’s only available for Mac. This photo manger is efficient at organizing your photos. You can categorize your images and tag them. Additionally, you can rate your images and search through all of your images with advanced search options, such as keyword, metadata, keywords, and color tabs. Finding you desired photo is easy with a thumbnail view that loads quickly.
As an editor, AfterShot Pro is excellent. It gives you the ability to apply a single filter to your photo, or to apply multiple filters in a single photo. There are a few automatic features that can enhance your photo based on color, brightness, and more. You can edit out objects, touch-up any trouble areas, or get rid of distortions.
- Organizes photos easily
- Doubles as a photo editor, and has a variety of editing options
- Only two options for saving your photos (TIFF or JPG)
- Only for Mac
- No automatic photo sharing to social media