The Best Photo Management App For Linux

Linux may not have a ton of super advanced photo managers, but it has a few solid programs, the best of which is easily the near professional-grade digiKam.


Platform: Linux
Price: Free

Download Page

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  • Easily import photos from your camera, flash drive, or hard drive.
  • Organise photos in albums and sub-albums, complete with comments and tags for easy navigation of large libraries.
  • Automatically sort albums and photos by folder, category, date, file size and more.
  • Drag-and-drop photos from digiKam to other KDE applications.
  • Support for over 300 RAW file formats.
  • Compare similar pictures side-by-side.
  • Geotag photos and view albums on a global map.
  • Fix issues like red eye, colour and lighting with just a few buttons.
  • Supports a number of plugins for the image editor.
  • Create slideshows, calendars and other creations with your photos.
  • Share your photos via email or social networks like Flickr, Picasa, SmugMug, Facebook and more.

DigiKam is a seriously full-featured program, so to see everything it has to offer, check out its features page.

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DigiKam is designed for the more professional side of photographers, supporting loads of features for managing large libraries, editing your photos, and exporting them to other services. It’s by far the most feature-filled photo manager on Linux, which easily puts it into the top slot. You won’t find features like its global map or plugin-based photo editor in other apps, meaning it has just about anything a normal user could possibly want and more.

It even walks you through some of its most important settings the first time you start it up, which is fantastic, as there are so many different options. If you want to manage your photos a certain way, digiKam will let you do it — which is not something that a lot of apps can necessarily say.

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As with most feature-packed programs, digiKam’s biggest downfall is that its interface is cluttered, confusing, and really overwhelming to new or casual users. While its first-launch walkthrough is helpful, the program still suffers from being difficult to use. Most of the buttons are small and difficult to understand without hovering over them, and lots of features like “Light Table” are just not descriptive when you first start.

If you want to use digiKam, you’ll probably need to peruse the documentation, or at least the feature list, before starting or you’ll get lost pretty quickly. Its other downside is that it’s a KDE program, which means GNOME users — who are in the majority — might find that it feels a little bit out of place, not to mention comes with a heaping pile of dependencies to install. Still, it’s worth it for the power behind the program.

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Shotwell is the default photo manager in Ubuntu. It’s much easier to use than digiKam, albeit not quite as feature-filled, but it should satisfy most casual users just fine. You can sort photos into events, add tags, alter them with a basic editor (crop, red eye, enhance, colour correction) and upload photos to the places like Facebook, Flickr and Picasa. If you’re a GNOME user, or just a casual user for whom digiKam sounds a bit intimidating, Shotwell is a great choice.

F-Spot will be familiar to longtime Ubuntu users, as it used to be the default, but Shotwell has surpassed it as of late. F-Spot is a bit more resource-intensive and contains Mono dependencies many users would prefer not to have, but it’s also a bit more mature than Shotwell. Its tagging system is a bit more robust, it has a slightly more advanced editor and can upload to more social networks than Shotwell. I recommend trying both and seeing which one works best for you. Shotwell can import albums directly from F-Spot, which makes it really easy to give them each a shot and compare them side-by-side.

gThumb is a photo manager that’s very basic compared to the rest, but in a lot of ways that’s what makes it great. It uses the folder structure of your pictures folder to browse everything, rather than a database and contains basic photo editing tools. It’s the perfect companion if you just want to manage your photos on your hard drive, but occasionally edit, bookmark, or create slideshows with your images.

It’s also worth mentioning that some Windows photo editors like Picasa run pretty well in Wine, if you don’t like any of Linux’s offerings. And, as always, if you have a favourite photo manager that we didn’t mention, let us know about it in the comments.

Lifehacker’s App Directory is a growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools across multiple platforms.

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