Instant Approval

The most significant benefit of digital cameras over traditional film cameras is likely the instant gratification provided by the digital medium -- you get to see your photos instantly. But close behind is the ability to take as many pictures as you like without having to worry about how many shots are left on a roll of film. You can take three or four versions of every photo, and figure out which ones you want to keep -- and which to develop -- later. The only limit is the size of your camera's memory card(s).

Although this ability to take unlimited photos gives aspiring photographers the freedom to make sure they get the best shot, it also has a drawback: At some point you have to weed through those 24 photos of Uncle Bob's embarassing softball swing at the family reunion and the 63 pictures of your niece's first recital in order to find the three or four worth keeping.

I've been trying to figure out the best way to do this for a while now. I originally just imported all my photos into iPhoto and then deleted the ones I didn't like. But that meant I had to wait for all the photos to import, browse them in iPhoto (which isn't exactly a speed demon), and delete the undesired shots. I also tried using Image Capture to import photos, since it allows you to selectively import particular images. This saved me some time, but it still required that I look at a bunch of photos in a window and command+click just the ones I wanted to import (which was often more frustrating than using iPhoto). I tried a few other image editing/management utilities, but none of them really made the process easier.

What I really wanted was an easy to use -- and fast -- way to review photos before they ever got to iPhoto. So when I spied a new app called "PhotoReviewer" on VersionTracker.com, my eyebrows raised reflexively in curious expectation. As it turns out, the $10 PhotoReviewer 1.4 (   ; www.sticksoftware.com/software/PhotoReviewer.html ) is just what I was looking for.

Although PhotoReviewer has the usual "slideshow" mode for browsing photos, its real power is in letting you approve or reject (called veto in PhotoReviewer-speak) images as you view them and in making the process both fast and efficient. As the PhotoReviewer window shows you an image, you immediately choose whether to approve or reject it, after which the next photo is shown, and so on. This high-tech "thumbs up/down" drill progresses as quickly as you can use the mouse or keyboard to pass judgement -- there's no waiting for images to be shown, and PhotoReviewer does all the behind-the-scenes work for you.

What happens to photos as they're approved or vetoed? It's entirely up to you. When you first start a new review -- most easily done by dragging a folder of images onto the PhotoReviewer icon -- a dialog appears (see below) with options for that review. (Note that PhotoReviewer expects you to have your photos in a folder on your hard drive or to be able to access the photos directly from your camera's memory card. For example, I use a USB Compact Flash card reader to access my camera's memory card directly.) You choose whether to have approved images left in place, copied to a designated folder, or moved to that folder. Similarly, vetoed photos can be left alone, deleted immediately, moved to the Trash, or moved to a specified folder. PhotoReviewer even supports subfolders: You can tell it to search subfolders in your folder of images, and it even preserves the folder hierarchy when moving images to Approved and Vetoed folders.

PhotoReview Setup Window

As you're viewing photos in PhotoReviewer, you can rotate or zoom to get a better look (see the screenshot below). Clicking the Approve button or pressing return on the keyboard approves it, and clicking the Veto button or pressing the delete key on the keyboard vetoes the image. You can also use the arrow keys to skip an image to come back to it later. Once you get into an approve/veto groove, you can fly through your photos in no time at all. (PhotoReviewer even supports multiple Approved folders -- you can direct approved photos to each using the number keys.) After you've approved or vetoed an image, it's removed from the review process. When you're through reviewing your photos, you're left with a folder of "approved" images that can then be imported into iPhoto or any other photo management app.

PhotoReview Window

Using PhotoReviewer in this way has turned out to be a major time saver for me, and PhotoReviewer has a number of other useful features that are worth checking out if you're looking to streamline your photo management process. (It can even play and review QuickTime movies.) If, like me, you spend a lot of time sifting through your pictures to figure out which ones are worth keeping, PhotoReviewer will pay for its paltry $10 price in no time.

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