Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
 Product Review 

ACDSee - A Canadian Image Management System
by Alan German

Does the world need yet another image manager? Well, maybe not, but ACDSee is worthy of note in the category, not only because of its Canadian origins (the company is based in Victoria, BC), but also because it is a fully-featured package available at relatively low cost.

The basic screen layout is a three-panel display, one showing the directory tree of a selected disk, one displaying thumbnail images of the files in a selected directory, and the third for a larger preview of a selected image. Clicking on any thumbnail image causes the newly selected image to be displayed in the preview window. Double clicking on the thumbnail or the preview pops up a window to display the image at a pre-defined magnification, including full-screen display. Once an image is displayed in this window, other images in the same directory can be viewed by clicking on “Next” or “Previous” icons or, even more conveniently, by scrolling a mouse wheel. One very nice feature of the program is that it caches the thumbnail images that have been previously viewed so that, while first time around thumbnails in a directory may load only moderately quickly, the next time one selects the directory the thumbnails are available almost instantly. So, the basic image viewing system is a snap.

The recently released version of ACDSee is 7.0. Users of earlier versions should be aware that while the basic features of the program are still available, the user interface has been modified considerably and certain commands are now in different locations.
The newly designed graphic interface is very colourful and quite intuitive. A multitude of options are available to customize the way in which items are displayed, and there are many tools available to process images in various ways.

Graphic icons, drop-down and tabbed menus provide quick access to the extensive series of features. For example, there are seven basic ways in which the files in a directory can be displayed, including the default of a thumbnail image of each file, a “filmstrip” view of the images, and tiles that contain both the thumbnail image and the details of the image file (name, file size, date, type and image size in pixels). One neat feature is that the thumbnail display size can easily be changed using an on-screen slider.

One can easily convert an image to a different file format, resize or rotate the image, and change the exposure with various controls. ACDSee features a built-in editor; however, if the range of editing control offered is insufficient for your purposes, or if you prefer to use a specific image editor, the program allows you to specify which available editor should be called up to get the job done.

A very useful feature offered by ACDSee is the ability to batch process a range of images. This is especially effective when one wishes to rotate a number of photographs from a digital camera that are shown in landscape format but need to be viewed in portrait mode. Similarly, one can easily rename a whole directory of images from the ubiquitous DSCN0697.JPG format to the perhaps more meaningful georgia_vacation_dec04_001.jpg. It’s a simple matter of selecting all the images, using Rename, and setting the template to georgia_vacation_dec04_###.jpg and your images are instantly renamed from number 001 through 176 (or whatever).

A few other features that I will mention briefly here are the ability to acquire images through a TWAIN compatible scanner; printing a “contact sheet” with multiple thumbnail images on a single page; creating a slide show of selected images with a range of transition effects; and producing a web page (HTML file) to display selected images in a browser. The latter is quite slick for those who don’t know anything about creating web pages but wish to share images with friends without sending multiple files by E-mail or on a CD-ROM. A Wizard is used to produce the code to display the selected images with an option to launch the default web browser to show the resulting page. One can customize the page to some extent by specifying such items as the number of rows and columns for the images, title and captions, and the colours to be used on the page. The images are displayed as a series of thumbnails but clicking on one of the images pops up the image full size in the browser. ACDSee also has a powerful search utility that will locate and display images according to various criteria. For the users of digital cameras, the program also has a neat feature where two similar images can be displayed side by side so that the user can pick out the best shot.

Some of the new features listed that I didn’t try are the ability to view over 100 file formats, including photographs, graphics, PDF, RAW, audio, video and playlist formats; obtain images from a cellular telephone, and send images to such a ‘phone; managing a digital camera’s memory card from within ACDSee; automatically synchronizing local folders with an external hard drive, network location, or remote computer; support for burning images to CD or DVD; and serving images over the Web using peer-to-peer functionality.

If you need a powerful image management system, ACDSee may be the package for you. A trial version of the software is available as a free download. Once you install the trial version, be prepared to activate it by letting it connect to ACDSee’s web site. If you do this within seven days, your trial period is extended to 30 days and, in addition, you will be offered an option to extend the trial period for a further 15 days, for a total of 45 days. Now, that should let you give the package a good workout!

Bottom Line:

ACDSee 7.0
Proprietary (US$ 44.99)
ACD Systems International Inc.

Copyright and Usage
Ottawa Personal Computer Users Group (OPCUG), Inc.
3 Thatcher Street, Ottawa, ON  K2G 1S6

The opinions expressed in these reviews may not necessarily
represent the views of the OPCUG or its members.