Top Linux Photo Software for Managing & Editing Snaps

Ivana Isadora Devcic 26-05-2015

Do you remember where you saved your holiday photos last year? How quickly can you find a particular snap from August 2007? If you don’t know, then you could probably use a new photo manager app Shotwell - The Future of Linux Photo Management Software It'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. Read More !


Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this predicament — with cameras now a standard feature of smartphones, tablets, and now watches Apple Watch Review & Giveaway The new Apple thing is finally out, but everyone was talking about the Apple Watch long before it was officially announced. Starting at $349 - we take a look, and have TWO to give away! Read More , we’re all guilty of taking (too) many photos and letting them pile up.

While sorting photos into plain old folders isn’t a bad idea, using a photo manager is more practical. The best photo managers offer advanced tagging and sorting options, and include image editing features. They also simplify your workflow: instead of using a separate photo editor 10 Easy-to-Use Photo Editing Programs for Newbie Photographers If Adobe Lightroom seems too complex for you, check out these easy-to-use photo editing programs for beginners. Read More , you can catalog and retouch your photos in one convenient app. If you’re looking for a photo organizer for Linux, consider these five fantastic suggestions.


If you were to judge GTKRawGallery solely by its name, you might think it’s an app that creates galleries from RAW images — and you would be wrong. It’s a lightweight photo manager for Linux that hides a bunch of great features underneath a simple surface. Apart from RAW, it supports more than 20 image file formats, including the widespread JPG, PNG, BMP, TIFF, and the Internet’s biggest pet peeve, GIF GIF - The Final Word On How To Pronounce It With the resurgence of the Graphics Interchange Format in its animated incarnation, the HOT debate about how to pronounce that gem of an acronym has also come to the front again. There are two fighters... Read More .


GTKRawGallery sports a fairly conventional file browser with photos shown as thumbnails and a menu bar with icons on top. You can change the layout and switch between dark and light themes. There’s a sidebar that displays your albums, tags, search results, and lets you browse all folders on your computer in a tree-view fashion.


Organizing photos is made easier by the batch-processing functions: you can tag, rename, and convert multiple photos at once. GTKRawGallery can import tags created with other photo management software with the Synchronize Database tool. When creating your own tags, you can write them directly into an image’s metadata What Is EXIF Data? 3 Ways to Remove Metadata From Photos Most cameras embed hidden information ("metadata") in photographs taken. For privacy's sake, here's how to remove that metadata. Read More thanks to support for EXIF, IPTC, and XMP formats; this ensures they’ll be recognized in other photo managers.


Sometimes you’ll have to rotate or crop an image, and GTKRawGallery has your back. Simply double-click any image to open it in photo editing mode. Here you’ll be able to perform RAW image pre-processing and post-processing, color correction, various enhancements, and apply image effects. All things considered, GTKRawGallery is an excellent lightweight Linux alternative to Aperture Aperture 3.5 Offers the Best Range of Photo and Editing Tools for the Mac Despite being intended for professionals, any Mac user who shoots and edits lots of photos would do well to upgrade to Apple's professional photo editor, Aperture. Read More or to its open source sibling, Darktable Darktable vs. Shotwell: Two Great Photo Editing Applications For Linux Until recently, Linux only had GIMP as an acceptable photo editing tool. That's changed, thanks to a couple new tools that provide impressive features: Darktable and Shotwell. Read More .

What Makes It So Great?

  • It’s lightweight and doesn’t have many dependencies (the essentials are Python, ImageMagick, exiftool and dcraw), so it will work on any desktop environment
  • You can directly upload photos to Dropbox, Flickr, and Facebook
  • The photo editing mode is separated from the file browser, which means that neither is cluttered with irrelevant buttons and options. You can simultaneously edit a photo in one window and rename a bunch of photos in another.

Download GTKRawGallery for Linux and Windows, or find it in AUR (for Arch Linux) and in this unofficial repository (for Ubuntu and derivatives).



DigiKam made the list of great photo album managers for Linux The 4 Best Photo Album Managers For Linux Read More when we covered the topic five years ago, so the fact it’s still relevant says a lot about it.

Powered by KDE and shipped with every Linux distribution that offers it, digiKam is technically a combination of several utilities: Light Table (for comparing photos), Showfoto (standalone image viewer and editor without tagging options), Image Editor, and KIPI Plugins. The latter are the most interesting. KIPI stands for KDE Image Plugin Interface, and it’s an impressive collection of libraries and plugins that can extend the functionality of any KDE image editing 10 Free Photo Editor Tools To Make The Most Of Your Shots Whatever happened to all the snapshots you've taken in the past? If you've got plans and ideas, here are some great Windows and some cross platform tools to process them with. Read More application.


When you first start digiKam, it can seem overwhelming due to the sheer amount of features it flings at you. Your photos can be organized into albums and sub-albums, both of which can be grouped into collections. Every photo can be tagged, given a 1 to 5 star rating, and annotated with custom comments. The Face Recognition tool helps you detect faces in photos and tag them accordingly.


You can import photos from external media, and your photo library supports multiple “root folders”, which means you don’t have to keep all your photos in one place for digiKam to manage them. The area where digiKam excels is searching and filtering photos by criteria: tags, date, rating, and even the location where they were taken.


Of course, digiKam wouldn’t be a complete photo management suite without a photo editor, so there’s a whole host of standard image editing options (resize, adjust levels, crop, flip, rotate, change color balance and saturation…) and a few advanced ones, like photo restoration, unblurring, refocusing, and red eye correction RediGone: Free Online Red Eye Removal Tool Read More . DigiKam takes a while to get used to, but it’s worth the effort because it eliminates the dreadful “needle in a haystack” feeling when looking for your photos.

What Makes It So Great?

  • Direct integration with the system’s plug-and-play interface. When you connect your camera via USB, digiKam can download photos from it with the Camera Tool
  • Advanced search options that can find similar images Facebook Photo Appraiser: Find Similar Images To Your Friends' Facebook Photos Read More , recognize duplicates, and even find a photo based on your freehand sketch
  • It’s almost infinitely extensible thanks to KIPI plugins. Depending on which ones you enable, you can use digiKam to stitch panoramic images, create galleries, slideshows and calendars, or to preview video and audio files.

There’s a good chance that digiKam is available in the repositories of your distribution, but you can also download the packages and the source from the official project website.



Think of KPhotoAlbum as digiKam’s leaner, more focused cousin. While digiKam is feature-packed, the main purpose of KPhotoAlbum is photo indexing and organization, and it takes its job very seriously.

The first step is building an index of your photos based on a single folder that contains them. Yes, this means that KPhotoAlbum, at least for now, doesn’t support multiple root folders (but you can add folders to a database with this neat trick).


Once you’ve added the photos, you can start organizing them into categories and sub-categories, and creating your own tags. Categories and sub-categories have to be defined in the Settings > Configure KPhotoAlbum dialog, while tags can be added on-the-fly in the Annotations dialog. If you’re into in-depth categorization, you’ll be glad to know that photos can also have Labels and Tokens, as well as custom comments and descriptions.

The image browser mode is called a Scope, and it shows the photos as thumbnails. While in this mode, you can drag-and-drop individual photos onto each other to create Stacks, which act like virtual folders. You can preview photos in a slideshow, perform basic image editing, and merge duplicate photos.


Every photo can belong to several categories and have as many tags as you want. If you click on the timeline/histogram bar at the bottom of the thumbnail view, you can sort your photos by date. The Age View option lets you add information about people’s age and sort photos by this criterion, which might be particularly interesting to parents. Like digiKam, KPhotoAlbum supports face recognition and can be extended with KIPI plugins.

What Makes It So Great?

  • The Positional Tags option, which means you can tag just the selected area in a photo
  • It has an Android app that connects to your existing photo database on the computer to browse photos
  • Privacy-focused options let you password-protect photos and prevent them from showing up in the viewer.

You can download KPhotoAlbum pre-packaged for several Linux distributions.


Formerly known as Phraymd, Picty is so small and lightweight that it almost feels unfinished. The developers dropped the confusing name and optimized Picty to be as portable, fast, and stable as possible. It can handle huge photo collections, and although it has limited photo editing capabilities, Picty provides a flexible photo management setup that conforms to the user’s needs.

It has a non-destructive mode in which you can simply browse images in local folders, on external devices (including cameras and smartphones), or in your Flickr account More Than Photo Sharing: 5 Unique Uses for Flickr Flickr is best known as one of the easiest ways to share and store your photos online. We've come up with a few unique ways you can get more out of Flickr that go beyond... Read More . If you make any changes to the images, they won’t be saved without your permission. Moreover, tags and image modifications are saved as metadata, so other software that supports EXIF, XMP, and IPTC formats can read them. When you decide to create a collection, Picty will offer to scan for existing tags and import them to save you some time.


The interface is similar to other photo managers: images are shown as thumbnails, and hovering over them reveals a few editing options. You access tags and folders in the sidebar on the left, and on the right you can toggle a map that lets you find photos by their geolocation tags.


Picty is modular, which means that many of its features are provided by plugins, most of which you can turn off if you don’t need them. The best thing about Picty is tabbed image browsing and multitasking. In other words, Picty lets you open and modify several photo collections at once, all in one application window.

What Makes It So Great?

  • Extremely lightweight with few dependencies, load can be reduced further by disabling plugins
  • Lets you create and work with multiple collections at once. You can quickly transfer images from one collection to another
  • The Search option supports advanced expressions and lets you find photos by modification or creation date.

Picty is available on GitHub, and Ubuntu users can install it from this repository.


In terms of photo editing, Fotoxx is almost the complete opposite of Picty: it has so many advanced image processing options that it’s a viable alternative to GIMP GIMP: A Quick Walkthrough Of Everyone's Favorite Open Source Image Editor Read More . You can work with RAW files, create HDR and panoramic images, reduce noise and remove dust spots, create collages Create Easy Photo Collages for Instagram With Layout While there are plenty of ways to create collages without Photoshop, Layout's focus is on simplicity and the ability to share the images quickly with Instagram and Facebook. Read More , mashups, and slideshows with animations.

Fotoxx lets you browse photos in thumbnail-mode with the option to change the layout. However, you won’t be able to use Fotoxx if you don’t let it index at least some of your photos, which is the only (slightly) annoying thing about this application.


With Fotoxx, you can organize photos in categories and assign tags, ratings and captions to each photo. It supports multiple image collections, and you can add new folders to a collection whenever you want. When searching for photos, you can use partial matching, and it works both on metadata and file names. Batch-editing is available in the file browser mode, so you can tag, rename, and resize many photos at once. Fotoxx also supports geotagging, and there’s a handy map which you can click to access photos from a particular corner of the world.


What Makes It So Great?

  • Dozens of basic and advanced image editing options, like Perspective Correction and the option to flatten a scanned book page to prepare it for OCR
  • Clean, intuitive interface that stays out of the way. All options are grouped into menus which you can access by clicking their respective icons
  • The option to bookmark any part of your photo collection and quickly jump to it from the menu.

You can find Fotoxx in the repositories of several Linux distributions, or download the source.

Bonus: Create a Linux Home Photo Server

Building a centralized hosting solution for all your photos is a great idea, as you can make it accessible from any computer connected to your home network. For this purpose, you can try Piwigo or Lychee. Both photo managers can be hosted locally, on your computer. Just connect them to your XAMPP stack and you’ll be able to manage your photos in a web browser. (Or try their online demos.)

Piwigo supports themes and plugins, and can automatically import tags from EXIF and IPTC metadata. You can make photos and albums private, and every photo can be added to multiple albums. Piwigo can sort your photos into several pre-defined categories, like Most Recent or Best Rated, and display tag clouds for faster navigation.


Lychee is similar to Piwigo: it lets you tag and manage photos in batches, and password-protect albums from unauthorized eyes. You can import photos to Lychee from local folders, from an online source (like an URL) and from your Dropbox account. The most practical feature is Sync, which lets Lychee keep up with changes in any folder that contains photos.


Now it’s your turn. How do you manage your digital albums? Do you have any tips for more efficient photo management? Are you still relying on regular folders, and if yes, why? We’d love to read your thoughts, so leave a comment below.

Image Credits: Featured image, GTKRawGallery screenshots, digiKam screenshots, digiKam Search screenshot, KPhotoAlbum screenshots, Fotoxx screenshots.

Related topics: Image Editor, Image Search, Linux, Metadata, Photo Album.

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  1. Roger Penn
    July 26, 2016 at 12:35 am

    I have tried a few of these now and keep running into the same many, my collection is a mess containing numerous duplicates in different folders. However, as most of them are just camera dumps, there are many different photos with the same name, because every time I dump the SD card to my hard drive, the file naming starts over. So far, when I initially create a collection/library/whatever, the import process thinks they're duplicate photos just because they have the same name and therefore won't import them. For those that do, when it identifies a photo as a duplicate it simply excludes it without any option for me to be involved in the decision. I would like for it to let me see the duplicates, show me where they are located in the file system, and let me choose which one to import. What I need from the software isn't so much the features I can use once the collection is organized and ongoing, but those that can help me clean up the mess I already have. Any idea which would best suit me in that regard?

  2. Matthew Malthouse
    February 29, 2016 at 11:51 am

    My problem is having photos taken over 15 years. There are raw in several formats, some never processed, developed as jpegs, some subsequently geotagged. A number have been processed more than once for different purposes. Since memory cards got large many have been stored by the camera as raw+jpeg. So overall there's a lot of chaos and the storage is in directories by date (good) with inconsistent sub-directories (bad). Circa 80k files of which 20k raw.

    From this my wishlist is:
    • Ability to import only RAW files
    • Recurse directory structure
    • Display comprehensive Exif data
    • Add tags individually and batch
    • Display thumbnails
    • Be searchable

    I've tried all of the above this morning and nothing meets every wish. Sadly none really come close.

    GTKRaw Gallery is the only one that would restrict import to Raw files. But it won't recurse directory trees and the last development updates being 2013 is worrying.

    Darktable does the selective recursive import and tagging but, being a processor naturally lacks the organisation features. One solution might be Darktable to process then an organiser to display and search but that's going to be laborious.

    There is a really impressive amount of effort and skill represented by these projects. It's just frustrating that the "perfect" tool doesn't yet exist.

  3. Anonymous
    September 3, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Thanks for a nice article. My main problem is that my digital photo collection is a complete mess. Through the years when I've been switching between devices and computers I've ended up with a lot of backups and backups of the backup and so forth.

    So what I need is a photo organizer that can discover duplicate photos while importing them.
    Does anyone know if any of these has that feature?

  4. Anonymous
    July 13, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Great article, thanks, Ivana. I was wondering why Shotwell was not listed? I don't have an opinion for or against it, since I just started my digging into the right photo management app. But your experience could help me to straight away omit it. :)

    • Ivana Isadora Devcic
      July 14, 2015 at 4:01 pm

      Hi Uwe, thank you for the comment! :)

      I'm sorry to disappoint you, but the only reason why Shotwell is not featured here is because we'd already dedicated an entire article to it here on MUO. I mentioned digiKam which was also reviewed before, so I thought that was enough and wanted to give some space to apps that haven't been previously covered by our authors.

      Just like you, I don't have anything against Shotwell - it looks like a solid app, especially if you're looking for a simple photo management tool.

  5. Anonymous
    June 14, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    Nice article, Ivana.

    As it's crearly geared towards image management, not editing, I even understand your omitting some big names in that field, such as Darktable, for instance.

    Thanks for pointing out these relatively new players in this field which I didn't know of.

    • Ivana Isadora Devcic
      June 16, 2015 at 12:26 am

      Thank you for your comment, Scott.

      Darktable is one of the best open source applications for image editing, but, as you correctly observed, I didn't include it as an entry because the main topic was image organization. However, I *did* at least mention it, with a link to an older article that compared Darktable and Shotwell. So maybe you can forgive me this time. :)

  6. 45f25ff0
    May 27, 2015 at 7:49 am

    As an avid Linux user, I've always wondered why every single application of ours looks like it's been designed in 2004. Luckily we are in 2015 and most of apps functions are now found in the shape of a webapp!

    • Anonymous
      June 14, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      Your point being...?