For many people, sorting and organizing their photos is a giant chore that inconveniently sits in the middle of their photography workflow. This problem is situated smack in the middle of the joy of taking photos, and the fun of processing or touching them up. The satisfaction of publishing or sharing the finished photos seems like a distant dream. Still, not every photo will be good enough to make it to this final stage, and leaving scores of photos uncatalogued will making finding specific ones an impossible mess later on. Thus, the cataloging, sorting, grouping, organizing, and tagging begins.

Fortunately, ACDSee has included a number of tools to expedite this potentially boring process, and to allow users to organize in the way that feels most natural to them. It’s easy to jump right in and just get it over with. It might even be enjoyable.

Opening and Viewing Your Images:
Getting started in ACDSee is not complicated. You can access the images on your computer directly through the application. There is no need to import, unless you want to grab images off of an external device and add them to your PC. This allows you to get right to the good stuff without any messing around.

Start by accessing your photos. Open ACDSee Pro. In Manage mode, (where the application opens by default), you can use the Folder pane to navigate to your content on your hard drive.


Or, if your images are on another device, such as a CD, DVD, or USB key, insert the device in your computer and choose to Import with ACDSee Pro.


In the Import dialog, you can also perform additional tasks, such as renaming, placing images in subfolders, creating backups, rotating, and more.


Once your images are where you would like them, you can browse them by clicking the desired folder in the Folder pane. Notice that the folders are organized in the same tree structure as on your computer. You can view the contents of your selected folder in the File List pane. For better visibility of a specific image, double-click it to open it in View mode. To view a version of the image that is slightly larger than the thumbnail, but still continue working out of the File List pane, refer to the Preview pane on the lower left side of the window. There you can see a selected image alongside its EXIF information and histogram. To display the image, select the drop-down arrow on the Preview pane. Under Image and Information, select Show Image.


When you open ACDSee Pro for the first time, you are instantly set up with a database called Default.dbin. ACDSee Pro automatically adds file information and thumbnails to the database as you browse. You can add large groups of photos to the database without having to browse them first. This is called cataloging.

To catalog your files, click Tools | Database | Catalog Files. In the Catalog Files dialog, add the folders you want to catalog, and select the information you want to include in the database under the Options section. Click Start.

Categorizing, rating, labeling, or keywording your photos makes it easy to search for specific ones, to refine your collection, and to whittle out the junk. There is no right way to organize your collection; it is entirely defined by your own preference and the system you find the most efficient.

Fyi, ACDSee Pro contains a variety of ways to filter, sort, or group selective content.

Tagging is the most simplistic way of differentiating your photos. Probably the fastest, as well. 

To tag a photo, hover your mouse over the photo and click the box in the lower right corner with the checkmark in it. to_tag When the box is orange, it’s tagged. tagged To untag, just click it again. For speed, you can use the \ backslash key to toggle the tag on or off. You can hold down SHIFT and select a series of images and then just tag one to tag them all. Or you can use CTRL to tag a selection of images.

You can create and assign all the categories you want, which allows you the freedom to completely customize a management system that makes sense to you. 

You can find your categories in the Catalog pane, tabbed with the Folders pane on the left side of the window.

If you don’t see the Catalog pane, go to View | Catalog.

To create a new category, right-click one of the default categories and select New Category. Alternatively, go to Edit | Set Categories | New Category. In the Create Category dialog, select whether to create a top-level category, or create one at a sub-category level of the default category you right-clicked. Give it a name and select an icon from the drop-down list that you feel is relevant. Ideally, you could glance at the icon and know what the category is. However, note that you can’t choose an icon for a category at the sub-category level, as its parent category already has an associated icon. Click Ok.

To manage your categories is incredibly simple. To move it, drag it to where you want it to go. To edit or delete it, just right-click and use the context menu.

To assign a category to an image, all you need to do is drag the category to the image. Or drag the image to the category. That’s it! In fact, if you wanted to mass-assign a category to several images, you would simply select them all and hold down SHIFT, then drag the category to any one of them. You could also categorize several images that may not be all together in the File List pane, by selecting one and holding down CTRL, then selecting the others from wherever they may be. Then follow the same step: drag the category to one of the selected images. You can save a ton of time this way.

Some users may prefer categorizing from the Organize tab of the Properties pane (View | Properties). Select as many photos as you would like and click the checkbox beside the category you would like to assign to them.


To view the photos assigned to a specific category, click the category.


To unassign a photo from a category, right-click the photo and click Set Categories from the context menu. Then, just select the category you want to remove.

Using numerical ratings is probably the most intuitive way for photographers to thin out their collections. By identifying which ones are worth keeping and putting the effort into post-processing, versus which ones may be destined for the recycle bin, saves a lot of time down the road. You could rate so that photos assigned a rating of 5 are your best, destined to be shared and celebrated. Photos rated with a 4 could require minimal processing. Photos with 3s could need a lot of processing. And so on. But don’t forget that the meaning of the ratings is entirely up to you. Maybe 1s are your gold standard. There’s no wrong way to rate.

To rate a photo, hover the mouse over the photo and click the gray box with the line through it. Select your rating, like so:


Again, use the SHIFT key to select several images and rate them all at once. Or use CTRL to rate a selection.

To remove a rating, follow the same process as rating, but instead of selecting a number, select the box with the diagonal line.remove_rating

Color Labeling:
Color labels are ideal for identifying your images at a glance. You can use different colors to represent different stages of your workflow. They also make your images more easily found in searches.

You can name your color sets, so it’s easy to keep track of which color has which meaning. In the Catalog pane, click the Labels setting button Settings and choose Edit Label Sets. From here you can name and save as many label sets as you want.

To rate a photo, hover the mouse over the photo and click the gray label icon.gray_label_icon Select your color label, like so:


Use SHIFT to select several images and label them all at once. Or use CTRL to label a selection.

To remove a color label, follow the same process as for labeling, but instead of selecting a color, select the gray option. remove_label

Arguably, hierarchical keywords are the most dynamic way to organize your photos. By attaching words to your photos, they become easier to find and organize, and allow photo buyers to find appropriate images. They may even help to preserve some of the memories associated with them. While there are a lot of ways to keyword and keyword efficiently, the following steps include the basics.

To create keywords, open the Organize tab on the Properties pane. If the Properties pane is not already open, go to View | Properties. On the Organize tab, in the Keywords group, right-click Keywords (under the gray table). Select New Keyword. Select what level you would like the keyword to be at, enter the word and press OK. The keyword will be added under the word “Keywords”, (expand the group by pressing the + symbol).


To assign the keyword to one or more images, select the image(s) and drag the keyword onto it/them. An image is keyworded if when you select it, there is a checkmark in the box next to the keyword in the keyword tree.

To create a hierarchy, you can add more keywords using the same method and then just drag the lesser keywords onto the keywords that you want to be the parent.



You can also create a hierarchy without a lot of dragging keywords around. In the keyword field, type the less or more specific keyword, followed by the less than symbol, followed by the greater or more general keyword. Press Enter.

For example: Owl < Birds


The keywords will be added to the tree below. You can easily delete, edit, or manage keywords by right-clicking them in the tree and using the commands on the context menu.


  1. avi alon says:

    Too complicated

    • acdsystemsit says:

      Hi Avi,
      It can be a bit of a lot to take in, especially if you don’t have the opportunity to look at it in the moment. Is there any aspect I can provide extra clarity on?
      Hope you’re having a great week. 🙂

  2. Jimmy Reina says:

    I am a pro 5 user, and while I think I can transfer what is posted here to my version, I don’t see how to find something by using keywords (if possible).
    For example, if I had a bunch of photos in different folders with the keyword “airplane”, is it possible to fetch them, and get them in one spot?
    PS. I just stumbled on to this site, and don’t know where my question or the answers come up, please point me to that location.

    Thanks in advance.

    • acdsystemsit says:

      Hi Jimmy,
      I don’t have a copy of Pro 5, but it looks like searching for keyworded images hasn’t really changed since then. So, all you need to do is enter the keyword you want to search for in the Search bar and hit Enter. All of the photos assigned to that keyword will display in the File List pane, (in the center). As for then getting all of the photos with that keyword into one folder, probably the easiest thing to do would be to select the files, (the results of your search), and right-click. In the context menu, you’ll see Copy to folder… or Move to folder… In the Move/Copy to Folder dialog, you’ll see the option to create a new folder. In this field, (Destination), you can specify the where you want the new folder to go. Press Create Folder. Then rename the folder, as you desire. And that’s it! You can find your images in the new folder that you created. Let me know if you need any more clarification.
      I see what you mean. I’m not sure why comments aren’t showing up below topics in the blog. But I do get them and will always respond. I’m going to have to look into trying to figure out how to get them to show up.
      Thanks for your question! Hope you have a great weekend. 🙂

  3. Ken says:

    I have used a deed for years and the database is the only reason I no longer prefer this product.

    I have photos on different servers and networks and the database gets horribly confused and bloated when I move around and when the files that were here today are there tomorrow. The database gets to such a size that it seriously slows down the program. I have to find the database and delete it every few weeks.

    How can I turn this very annoying database off permantly?

    I like access, I hate the database. Same for the competitor software and their like functions , just give me a no database version and I will be happy.

    • acdsystemsit says:

      Hi Ken,
      The database increases the speed with which you can browse your computer, and you can use the information stored in the database to sort, organize, search, and filter your images and media files. Without the database, it’s hard to say what kind of access you’d have to your metadata. Thumbnail caching would be slower, for sure. However, you do have the option of excluding folders from the database, so I suppose you could just do that for all of the affected folders… In the help, (go to the Help menu, select Help Contents), use the table of contents on the left to navigate to Manage Mode | Managing Database Information | Excluding Folders From the Database. Alternatively, in ACDSee Pro 7 and ACDSee 17, there is the ability to create multiple databases, which could solve your issue of an over-inflated database. Help menu: Manage Mode | Managing Database Information | Creating and Switching Between Multiple Databases.
      I hope this helps. 🙂

  4. Ken says:

    I also hate this phone as it refuses to take the word a c d s e e without a lot of fuss. If the above post does not make sense please blame the phone

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