Pixa full review

Apple’s iPhoto does a good job of automatically organizing your photos for you, but it doesn’t give you very much freedom to do things your own way. You can create your own ‘albums’ of course, but other options such as its tagging and search features are fairly basic.

If you want a little more freedom in the way that you organize your photo collection then you could take a look at Pixa from Shiny Frog. Pixa’s interface is very similar to that of iPhoto, and allows you to import photos simply by dragging and dropping them into the program’s main workspace window. You can also create your own ‘projects’ – which are Pixa’s equivalent of iPhoto albums.

As well as detecting standard metadata – such as the date and time when a photo was taken – Pixa will also analyse your imported photos and automatically tag them with details such as the size of the photo and the dominant colours within the photo. There’s also an extensive set of other tags – such as ‘holiday’ or ‘sport’ – that you can add to photos as well.

You can then use Pixa’s built-in search tool to locate photos of a particular size and linked to a particular subject, perhaps also using a colour such as ‘blue’ to home in on photos of the sea or sky. There are no editing features in Pixa at all, but it does have an ‘Open In’ command so that you can quickly open photos in the editor of your choice.

Pixa uses tabs to open multiple projects simultaneously.

One nice touch in Pixa’s interface is that it allows you to open multiple views of your photo library by using tabs that sit at the top of the workspace window.  You could keep one tab always open that provides a view of your entire photo collection, and then open additional tabs that allow you to quickly dip into specific projects.

But, for many users, Pixa’s key feature will be its Live Folders option. Unlike iPhoto, which stores your photos in its own Library file within your main Pictures folder, Pixa allows you to store your photos in any number of folders anywhere on your hard disk. You can tell it to treat any folder as a ‘Live Folder’ and it will then monitor the contents of that folder, automatically updating your library as any new photos are added to that folder. This will be really handy for people who want to keep their photos stored in specific folders or locations rather than letting iPhoto automatically file them away for you.

Our only compaint is that Pixa is a brand new program and is still a little buggy – and it did crash a couple of times during our tests. However, there’s a trial version available so that you can check it out before buying the full version.

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