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photo management softwareIt’s taken a long time, but finally the future of Linux photo managers is looking up. It’s all thanks to amazing new photo management software called Shotwell, which is simple enough to be usable and featured enough to be useful (a hard balance to strike, and a rare one in the Linux world).

Sure, there were alternatives before. F-Spot did the trick for many, and Picasa for Linux was quite feature-filled for those willing to tolerate a proprietary program ported via Wine. Shotwell, however, hits the sweet spot between these two applications.

The Ubuntu team agrees with me, apparently, because they recently announced Shotwell will be the default photo management software in Ubuntu 10.10 (the next release of Ubuntu due to come out in October).


But you can use this app now. It’s in the repositories for Ubuntu 10.04, and users of earlier versions of Ubuntu and Fedora users can find installation instructions here. Before you dive in, though, read on to find out if this application is right for you.

Importing Photos

The first thing you do with any photography app is import photos, right? Shotwell gives you three ways to do this, and none could be any easier. The first way is to simply drag your folders onto the Shotwell window.

The second is to plug in your camera and let Shotwell take care of importing the photos on it’s own – this makes adding new photos a breeze.

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The third, old-fashioned way, is to click “File,” then “Import From Folder.” This is perfect if you have lots of photos already on your computer.

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Once the pictures are on your computer you’ll find they’re sorted by date. You can modify the names and times of any photo, allowing you to make your library really easy to customize. Browsing your photos, creating an on-the-fly slideshow and even basic editing are all made simple.

Editing Photos

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Open any photo in Shotwell and you’ll see five functions on the bottom toolbar: Rotate, Crop, Red-eye, Adjust and Enhance.

Rotate and crop have obvious functions, of course, but they’re certainly always nice to have on hand.

The Red-eye feature is also self-explanatory but very useful. The vaguely named “Adjust” allows you to change the levels. Those with a background in photography will immediately see the benefit here, but those without can experiment and learn pretty quickly.

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Finally there is the “Enhance” button. This function works exactly the way its magic-wand icon implies. Click the button and Shotwell will automatically adjust the levels to make the photo look as good as it can. How effective this can be is obviously a matter of opinion, but I generally thought the results were fantastic.

Upload To Web

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If there are three sites people share photos on, it’s Facebook, Flickr and Picasa. Happily Shotwell can upload photos to all three. Doing this couldn’t be easier: just highlight the photos you want to upload, then click “Publish.” You can then sign into any of those accounts and upload the photos.

Conclusion

Ubuntu, and Linux in general, needed photo management software like this for a long time. I’m glad it’s finally here in the form of Shotwell. Here we have organization, editing and online integration all in one happy package.

What do you think? Is Shotwell an improvement over the likes of F-Spot, or is the Ubuntu team making a mistake in switching their default? Do you prefer this sort of simplicity to the feature collection that is Picasa, or do you feel too limited using this tool? Speak up in the comments below!

  1. Brenda
    December 7, 2016 at 2:09 am

    I really dislike this Shotwell. I have no choice where to transfer my photos to (like on an external hard drive) and the photo editing is basic at most. I miss my photoscape! I feel like I have no control over my computer. Obviously, I am new to Linux / Ubuntu & Shotwell - but honestly, it's extremely frustrating & annoying. :(

  2. Youthyear
    August 12, 2010 at 9:27 am

    This software was awesome. I think this is even better than Picasa in Windows

  3. Dexter
    July 15, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    To me Shotwell does just what F-Spot does but less. I think that they should stick with F-Spot.

  4. Esteban
    July 3, 2010 at 12:52 am

    Does anyone knows if it changes in anyway your pictures? Adds info to the exif, writes on the directories, anything?

    I'm a photographer and I'd hate that!

    Thanks in advance.

    • Mantis3dfx
      April 12, 2016 at 11:47 am

      Don't Worry. ...It's "Leaps and Bounds" ahead of iTunes. This one just does exactly what you tell it to do in the initial configuration, after you finish initial installation.

      Basically, if you haven't told it "To Do" or "To Not Do" something, "IT WON'T DO IT"

  5. Esteban
    July 2, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Does anyone knows if it changes in anyway your pictures? Adds info to the exif, writes on the directories, anything?

    I'm a photographer and I'd hate that!

    Thanks in advance.

  6. Steve Thomas
    June 20, 2010 at 2:28 am

    Sounds good, but ... based on your review, it doesn't do anything that Fspot doesn't do. Since I have over 10,000 photos organised in Fspot, I don't think I'll switch.

  7. usb flash drive
    June 15, 2010 at 7:22 am

    I set up my mother in laws computer shotwell months ago. He took out the SD card and import it on her own how to plug it in pictures with no problems. (He is completely computer illiterate). She always photograph the event by date / Solution album, I'm a pile of albums. So by default the way it organizes loves her picture. They all like "virtual photo" albums that pile of books in her mind begin to change. Great app, works perfectly.

  8. ekspiulo
    June 14, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Shotwell is nice and speedy in my experience, and for simple photo processing and sharing, it hits a a sweet balance of ease and capability that is a joy to use.

  9. Oli Warner
    June 13, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    I personally don't see all the fuss against F-Spot. It it imports, tags, uploads to various places, edits, thumbnails quite fast, supports good non-destructive editing through things like Darktable and UFRaw.

    I'll freely admit my computer is somewhat more powerful that the current average (i7+12gigs of RAM) but it never seems to use that much CPU and it's never in my top 5 most-ram-hogging apps (those usually being Firefox, Deluge, Banshee, Xorg and Liferea).

    Shotwell just appears to put too much effort into looking special and as a consequence, looks cheap with its over-rounded corners, contrast background and general bleughiness. I'll give it a longer try but I certainly don't see any reason to move yet.

  10. Oli Warner
    June 13, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    I personally don't see all the fuss against F-Spot. It it imports, tags, uploads to various places, edits, thumbnails quite fast, supports good non-destructive editing through things like Darktable and UFRaw.

    I'll freely admit my computer is somewhat more powerful that the current average (i7+12gigs of RAM) but it never seems to use that much CPU and it's never in my top 5 most-ram-hogging apps (those usually being Firefox, Deluge, Banshee, Xorg and Liferea).

    Shotwell just appears to put too much effort into looking special and as a consequence, looks cheap with its over-rounded corners, contrast background and general bleughiness. I'll give it a longer try but I certainly don't see any reason to move yet.

  11. Hkrtz
    June 13, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    Hm, for anything more advanced, shotwell does not appear to prvide a solution. While I think that it's good to have some more basic, easy to use stuff like this on the menu, I personally stick with digikam/kipi plugins. It has all I need and then some. Picasa was awfully slow, rather badly integrated and clumsy. Haven't tried F-spot yet.

  12. Anonymous
    June 13, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    I agree with all the previous comments, it needs to be more feature rich. I am going to stick to Picasa

  13. Bart
    June 13, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    I won't be using it as I use camera raw and, when I need to, convert to png or jpeg. When/if they allow raw then I'll probably look at it

  14. matt s
    June 13, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    I installed shotwell on my mother-in-law's computer months ago. She figured out how to plug in her sd card and import photos on her own, with no problems. (She is completely computer illiterate). She always had photo albums sorted by date / event, I'm talking stacks of albums. So she loves the way it organizes her photos by default. They all seem to be like "Virtual Photo Albums" that replace the stacks of books in her mind. Great app, works perfectly.

  15. nullrend
    June 13, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Looking at the features available for the program, it certainly looks nice. However, I'm having a bit of a hard time figuring out if it stores picture metadata in its own private database or if it stores it on the picture file itself (via IPTC tags); I do believe it uses its own database, based on what I knew of the program from earlier versions.

    There is a feature comparison page (http://trac.yorba.org/wiki/Sho... but it's missing shotwell itself. If the program uses its own database it could prove difficult to edit picture metadata and share it with other programs. It also has the consequence of locking you into the program. If you want to move to another program, you lose your metadata.

  16. hemanth.hm
    June 13, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Its indeed a great tool for one click publish to social media, i'm using it from more than a month now, few things it needs are:

    1. Badly in need of raw images handling and pre processing capacity.
    2. EXIF tools, Geolocation etc.
    3. Image editing must be more advance and intensive, not just Adjust and auto fix.

  17. hemanth.hm
    June 13, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Its indeed a great tool for one click publish to social media, i'm using it from more than a month now, few things it needs are:

    1. Badly in need of raw images handling and pre processing capacity.
    2. EXIF tools, Geolocation etc.
    3. Image editing must be more advance and intensive, not just Adjust and auto fix.

  18. nullrend
    June 13, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Looking at the features available for the program, it certainly looks nice. However, I'm having a bit of a hard time figuring out if it stores picture metadata in its own private database or if it stores it on the picture file itself (via IPTC tags); I do believe it uses its own database, based on what I knew of the program from earlier versions.

    There is a feature comparison page (http://trac.yorba.org/wiki/ShotwellFeatureComparison) but it's missing shotwell itself. If the program uses its own database it could prove difficult to edit picture metadata and share it with other programs. It also has the consequence of locking you into the program. If you want to move to another program, you lose your metadata.

  19. Anthony Pantekoek
    June 13, 2010 at 4:11 am

    It looks good. I use F-Spot right now and it's OK but not great.

  20. MADinMelbourne
    June 13, 2010 at 4:10 am

    just downloaded it, thanks for the tip... Picassa and F-Spot just weren't doing it for me. IMO more work needs to be done to get an important software feature ultra user friendly.... let's see how shotwell goes.

    • Aibek
      June 13, 2010 at 3:57 pm

      Please let us know your feedback after you have used it for a while.

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