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You may have read all about how you can put the Collections feature to work for you organizing and finding your photos. But did you know: you can also make collection sets, which is fancy-speak for creating hierarchies of collections inside parent collections. This makes it possible to really drill down to the exact images you want and to categorize with the level of specificity that is important to you. Maximize efficiency!

Keep in mind that you can’t add images to the collection sets themselves. That’s not what they’re for.  You have to put them inside of a folder within the set. This being the case, it may be useful to think of the collection sets as directories you define the structure of.

To Create a Collection Set:
  1. In the Collections pane, right-click and select Create Collection Set.
  2. create_collection_setIn the Create Collection Set dialog box, enter a name for your collection set. You may want to give this some thought. This will be the parent folder that holds a bunch of baby folders, so you’ll want to give it an identifiable name. Not that you can’t go back and change it, of course. I’m just trying to save you time.


Select the Inside a Collection Set checkbox if you would like to add your collection set inside of another collection set, creating a sort of collection set inception. Select the collection set from the drop-down menu.

collection_ception3. Click Create.

Now you can work on your hierarchy. Create a new folder by right-clicking the collection set.


Or right-clicking anywhere in the Collection pane. Doesn’t matter. What does matter is that in the Create Collection dialog, under Location, you enable the Inside a Collection Set option. Choose the Collection set you just created from the drop-down menu.


Now you can name your collection, and press Create.

You can take things deeper by adding collection sets inside of collection sets, and then putting more folders inside of those. Choose Create Collection Set and then choose the existing collection set to put it inside. And so on and so on.


You can make it as complicated and specific as you feel is necessary for your needs. It can be a great way to focus your goals and stay organized.


And if you select the root of a collection set, the File List pane will display all of the images in all of the collections inside of that root.


While you can put smart collections inside of collection sets, it’s worth noting that when you click the root, the results of the query within the smart collection will not appear in the File List pane along with the contents of the other folders.

Now you have the power to create structures to service your affinity for compartmentalization! Chaos…Order!

What’s that? You want more ways to stay organized and find things quickly? Well, not to worry. ACDSee has a variety of styles in which you can organize, so you can really just pick your favorite. Potentially your new favorite way to organize involves using the Collections tool. It’s exactly what it sounds like. You collect photos based on a common variable. That variable is up to you. And then you can find them super easy. Collections is a powerful grouping and search query tool, and is arguably the most efficient way of finding elusive photos.

You might choose to group based on the camera used, or maybe the size of the image. Or you might make collections for workflow purposes, such as collecting images you intend to share or process. It’s up to you — and you don’t have to explain your decisions to anyone!

To Create a Collection:
  1. In Manage mode, at the bottom of the Folders pane, select Collections, which is tabbed with Catalog and Calendar.
  2. In the Collections pane, right-click and select Create Collection… from the context menu.
  3. In the Create Collection dialog box, make some decisions. Name your collection—that’s obvious. In the Location section, you can choose to place this collection inside of a previously existing collection. But assuming this is your first time and that you do not have a time machine, you can overlook this part this time.
    Under Options, select Include selected photos to effectively achieve two steps in one: creating a collection and adding the selected photos to it right away. But adding images to your collection after the fact is not difficult, so don’t sweat it if you didn’t have any photos selected. And then select Set as target collection to say that this is the collection you want to be able to send photos to with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Alt + C.
  4. name_collectionPress the Create button.
Adding Photos to Collections

Now there’s a number of ways you can add the photos you want to your new collection. You can right-click the images in the File List pane and choose Collections | Add to | [name of the collection]. Or you can do the ol’ drag and drop your images from the File List pane onto the collection inside the Collections pane.


Or, with the Organize tab of the Properties pane open, you can select the images in the File List pane and select the checkbox next to the collection.


If you didn’t set your collection as the target collection in the set up phase, or if you want to change the target to another collection, you can do it at any time by right-clicking the collection and choosing Set as Target Collection. A target collection will display a blue circle icon next to it in the Collections pane. It looks like this:


With your target collection set, you can easily add as you go by selecting the image(s) and pressing Ctrl + Alt + C.

Before we go any further, let’s cover what to do if you were sleeping and put the wrong images in the wrong collection. Select the collection in the Collections pane. Then right-click the image(s) in the File List pane and choose Collections | Remove from Selected Collection.


This won’t delete the image(s). It will only remove it/them from the collection. As you can see, you can also opt to remove it/them from all collections.

Finding Images with Collections

Now for the interesting part. While grouping your images is fun, a collection’s true purpose is to be ridiculously awesome at finding the images you need at any given time. This is where smart collections come in. It’s not that the average collection lacks intelligence, but more that a smart collection’s IQ is off the chart. A smart collection is a collection with a query built inside of it. Yes, inside. How does it get there? You, my friend, specify what you want it to be and the images that fit your query will show up in your smart collection.

Well that sounds kind of complicated. Technically speaking, it probably is. But for you, it’s positively accessible. Search queries get saved to the database and when you catalog new images in the future, the ones that fit your search query criteria will automatically show up in your smart collection.

So let’s make a number of smart collections and see what we can find.

  1. In the Collections pane, right-click and select Create Smart Collection… from the context menu.
  2. In the Create Smart Collection dialog box, enter a name for your collection—something that will help you remember what search query it contains. In the Location section, leave the Inside a Collection Set checkbox enabled to place the collection under the Smart Collections folder to keep it separate from not smart regular collections. In the Match section, press the Add button.
  3. In the Add Search Criteria dialog box, choose criteria by clicking the plus + signs to expand the tree and toggling the checkboxes on and off to select your properties.
  4. Press OK.
  5. Refine each item by clicking the underlined variables and selecting an option from the drop-down, or entering a number or word into the field.
  6. Press OK. Select the smart collection in the Collections pane to reveal the results of the query.

There are a wide variety of search queries you can create. Let’s say you’re looking for some photos you’ve uploaded but you don’t know exactly when. You know it had to be some time between the present day and April 2014. These would not be difficult to find. In the Add Search Criteria dialog box, expand the EXIF section, then expand the Image section. Here, check the box beside Date/Time. Press OK.

You can refine a date and time range by selecting the underlined date. This will open the Select Time Range dialog box, where you can specify down to the second.


Press OK.

You can further define by clicking the underlined word between the property and the date and selecting an alternative. By choosing “is within”, the smart collection will take the amount of time between the two dates and apply that relative to the present date. What this means is that the query will always return images within the past 731 days. There’s no need to update it.


And that’s that. Happy hunting!

Every now and then it feels like talking about the database is a good thing to do. It’s mysterious. It’s helpful. And with a little information and some TLC, your database can grow up to be big and strong.

One box missing from rows of boxes on shelves

Let’s recap: The ACDSee database stores information about your files, including EXIF information, file name and folder location, thumbnails, categories, ratings, and any other information you add using the Properties pane. The more information you store in the database, and the more time you spend entering that information, the more important it is to back up your database. A real database nerd might even go so far as to say it’s worthwhile to have a good strategy for managing your backups. Losing hours of work to a system crash or other uncontrollable event is something that should, and can, be avoided. But you didn’t hear that from me. What do I look like? A database nerd? How dare you…

Backup Schedule

How often should you backup? All databases are beautiful and unique. And it really depends how often you add or change information contained in your database. I’d say it’s fair to declare that you should backup as often as you want to avoid retyping data.

Luckily there’s a backup reminder setting you can take advantage of. Go to Tools | Options | Database. On the Database page of the Options dialog you can set how regularly you would care to be reminded. For business environments, though, you really ought to consider backing up every day. It’s one of the easiest ways to avoid an embarrassing time out in the corner… That’s how offices work, right?

When you’re getting ready to do something big, such as importing information from another ACDSee user, or converting a database from a previous version of ACDSee, this is a choice time to prompt a backup. Go to Tools | Database | Back Up Database…

Backup Location

Next, consider not just when or how often you’re backing up, but where to. ACDSee takes pretty good care of you by creating a new folder for each day if you are backing up to your hard drive. This helps to avoid overwriting your backup, and gives you several increments from which you can restore. Also helpful is a monthly backup that is stored in a different physical location than your computer, such as a network drive. You never can be too careful.

Backup Size

To keep the size of the backup small, choose to back up database information only. This can be configured in the Database Backup Wizard (Tools | Database | Back Up Database…). But also don’t forget to back up your images separately, also on a regular basis.

Backup Options

Do you want to include thumbnails? What types of files do you want to back up? In the Database Backup Wizard, familiarize yourself with the options in order to decide which backup style is the right one for you. For more information about your options, see here.