As a photographer with over a million files in my image library, I get it:
Manually organizing photos of people – whether professional portraits, casual family photos, or anything in between – is a tough and time-consuming process. And hunting down an image of a specific person from within an image database? It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack.
That’s where facial-recognition technology comes to the rescue. It takes these tedious tasks and makes them partially or fully automatic so you can identify, categorize, tag, search for, and retrieve images of specific people in just a few seconds.
I’ve spent over 16 hours testing programs, all in search of the best photo organizer with facial recognition. Below, I share my top five choices, including software for beginners, experts, and users on a budget. I also explain who can benefit from each program; that way, by the time you’re finished reading, you know precisely which software will meet your requirements.
Ready to streamline that image-management workflow with the power of facial recognition? Let’s dive right in!
Google Photos – The Best Image Manager With Facial Recognition for Beginners
Google Photos is a beginner-friendly photo-management program that’s offered in two forms: as an in-browser application and as an app (available for both Android and iOS users). I use it regularly, and I’m always impressed by the easy workflow, which makes it a great choice for beginners.
Simply upload your images, and Google will use powerful algorithms to group photos in various ways: by places, by documents, by things, and by both people and pets. Once Google has categorized your files, you can scroll through its automatically generated – and continuously updating – collections to find the images you’ve captured, or you can use the search bar to quickly hone in on photos with certain characteristics.
The facial-recognition technology is outstanding; not only does Google’s photo organizer do a great job of identifying specific people and grouping them correctly, but it also makes it easy for you to add name tags that can then be used when searching for photos that contain specific people.
In addition to these tools, Google Photos includes basic photo-organization features, including Albums (so you can manually group images into folders by genre, subject, date, etc) and Favorites (so you can designate your best shots from a session). The program even includes a few photo-editing features, though the more powerful tools do require a subscription plan – and if you’re looking to make serious edits that enhance your images, I’d really recommend a dedicated photo editing program instead.
One downside to Google Photos is the lack of a desktop app; relatedly, the software stores all uploaded images in the cloud, which comes with security concerns as well as significant ongoing expenses. While a standard Google Account comes with 15 GB of free storage space, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee if you want to go any higher. If you have a 2 TB photo collection, for instance, you’ll spend $9.99/month, while anything from 2 TB to 5 TB will set you back a whopping $24.99/month.
I’ve used Google Photos for at least five years now, but only for my smartphone snapshots. I certainly recommend it for casual photographers seeking an easy way to store and retrieve photos of family members, friends, and pets with minimal fuss. However, its image-organization features are seriously lacking in sophistication, and the cloud-based approach can get pricey with photo collections beyond 200 GB, so if you’re looking to manage a large collection of images and require moderate flexibility, I’d encourage you to look at a different option, such as:
Excire Foto 2024 – The Most Powerful Photo Organizer With Facial Recognition
Excire is an up-and-coming software brand, but unlike other DAM developers, the Excire team specializes in combining AI with image management for a faster, smoother, simpler workflow. Back in the fall of 2023, the Excire team launched Foto 2024, a Windows- and Mac-compatible desktop application that includes not one or two but five discrete AI models:
- X-tags AI, which intelligently applies keywords to photos
- X-alike AI, which identifies duplicate photos and also supports a similarity-search feature
- X-prompt AI, which retrieves images based on a text prompt
- X-tetics AI, which analyzes and rates images based on their aesthetic features
- X-face AI, which retrieves images with specific people or selected facial characteristics
Since the Excire Foto 2024 launch, I’ve used the program extensively, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that its AI features are genuinely revolutionary. The Search for People and Search for Faces tools – both of which are powered by X-face AI – do an outstanding job of retrieving files of specified family members, friends, group portraits, portraits featuring specific ages, and so much more. They make it ridiculously easy to retrieve files from deep within your image database, and they’re remarkably fast, too; once you’ve completed the initial analysis phase, each search takes no more than a second or two.
Plus, Excire’s other AI-powered image organization features will massively speed up your workflow, and they’re so easy to use; X-prompt AI, for instance, can instantly retrieve practically any image from within your image library, and it only requires a simple text description to get started.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or a serious pro; if you’re after a great photo organizer that includes facial recognition and will save you plenty of time behind the computer, Excire Foto 2024 is a stellar pick. The biggest drawback is the lack of editing features, though the program is easily set up alongside an editor like Skylum Luminar Neo, and dedicated Lightroom Classic users can always use the Excire Search plugin instead, which brings many of the same features into Lightroom.
ACDSee Photo Studio – The Best Comprehensive Photo Organizer With Facial Recognition
When searching for image-organization software, ACDSee Photo Studio is frequently passed over in favor of more mainstream programs such as Lightroom Classic. I think this is a huge mistake.
Photo Studio is an all-in-one program that combines photo management and image organization into a powerful product, and while ADCSee’s interface does lack flair, the program packs a big punch thanks to some outstanding editing features (including advanced tools for color grading, layering, and masking) as well as robust DAM features that can handle large image collections with ease.
ACDSee Photo Studio boasts all the image-management basics (ratings, color labels, picks, etc.), and unlike many image managers, you don’t need to spend time uploading your files to Photo Studio; the program accesses your desktop folders directly, which you can then review in the ACDSee Folder panel for a more convenient workflow.
But what makes ACDSee Photo Studio especially noteworthy are the AI-powered tools. Even the most basic version of the program – Photo Studio Home – offers robust facial recognition that groups photos by face. And you have the option to apply names to the faces, and then make further adjustments using a simple process. In my experience, the recognition software is impressively accurate, and the streamlined workflow is very well-designed.
It’s also worth noting that the more feature-rich versions of the program – Photo Studio Professional and Photo Studio Ultimate – offer an AI-keywording tool that automatically tags your photos with relevant keywords. Plus, you can grab any version of the Photo Studio software for an outstanding price (Photo Studio Ultimate 2024, for instance, will currently set you back just over $100 for a lifetime license).
While ACDSee Photo Studio may not be the flashiest program on the market, its powerful features and low price make it a great all-around pick for beginners, enthusiasts, and even professionals. Unfortunately, the main three program versions mentioned above – Home, Professional, and Ultimate – are only Windows-compatible. However, Mac users do have the option to purchase a different version of the program – Photo Studio for Mac 10 – which includes the facial-recognition software as well as plenty of other powerful features.
DigiKam – The Best Free DAM Program With Facial Recognition
If you’re on the hunt for the best free image organizer that includes facial-recognition tech, look no further than DigiKam, an open-source desktop program available for Mac, Windows, and Linux computers.
I’ve tested the software at length, and it’s clear that DigiKam is a solid program that includes a slew of options for high-level image management. You can easily group photos, apply star ratings, apply tags, and view images by date. There’s also a facial-recognition tool – accessed in People View – that first scans your selected collections for faces, allows you to apply labels to a few individuals, and then auto-identifies the remaining people based on your indicated names. It’s not wildly accurate, but it’s certainly usable.
The real problem with DigiKam, however, is that it’s unintuitive and clunky. The interface is very barebones and outdated, plus there’s just too much of everything: too many tools, too many modules, and too many details on display. If you’re already familiar with other image management programs, you’ll catch on after some practice, though you may struggle at first. But if you’ve never used DAM software before, you’ll need to put in a lot of work before you can confidently navigate DigiKam.
At the end of the day, DigiKam is a robust program that certainly includes some impressive features. If you require extreme customizability and you don’t mind putting in the time, or if you’re looking for free software that offers basic face-based categorization, digiKam is certainly worth a try. But if you’re a beginner, or you’re looking for a powerful program that’s also intuitive, I’d encourage you to spring for a program such as Excire Foto 2024 instead.
Adobe Lightroom Classic: The Best Comprehensive Photography Program With Facial Recognition Tools
Adobe Lightroom Classic is a hugely popular desktop-based program that combines moderately sophisticated editing features with high-level image organization options. While it’s not quite as intuitive as I’d like – especially when recommending software for beginners – Lightroom Classic is packed full of features, and you can import, categorize, cull, edit, and even print your images all from the same workspace.
I spend hundreds of hours per year managing my images in Lightroom Classic, and so I mean it when I say that it truly is an excellent program, especially if you require comprehensive image organization capabilities. Lightroom’s Library module offers hierarchical collections, color labeling, flagging, keywording, and more, and once you’re done with your image organization, you can head over to the Develop module to make adjustments – from simple exposure and white balance modifications to targeted color changes and custom vignetting.
AI-powered image management isn’t a specialty of Adobe’s, and Lightroom Classic includes very few tools in this vein, but there is a facial-recognition feature that even seasoned Lightroom users often don’t know about; it groups photos based on faces, and then allows you to add names to identified photos. These names then become searchable keywords, which you can use to sort and retrieve images of people as needed.
Honestly, while Lightroom’s facial recognition is fairly easy to use, the accuracy can be a little poor, and the AI model takes a frustratingly long time to analyze image collections, which is a real problem for anyone looking to manage large files.
That said, if you want to carry out your entire photography workflow in a single program and you need face-based image organization tools, Lightroom’s built-in tools can get the job done. One note: If you can afford it, I’d recommend supplementing the program with Excire Search, the handy Lightroom plugin (mentioned above) that brings Excire’s state-of-the-art facial-recognition software directly into the Lightroom interface. Plus, Excire Search 2024 brings the new prompt-search feature into Lightroom (so you can find images in your catalog by inputting free-text descriptions!).
Each of the programs on this list offers powerful facial-recognition technology to help you effectively manage your image library. And the programs often come with additional selling points: deduplication technology, image-editing tools, aesthetic evaluations, automatic keywording, and more.
So which of the best image organizers with facial recognition is right for you?
Google Photos is an excellent choice for casual photo-snappers, especially those looking for a no-fuss approach to image management. On the other hand, Excire Foto 2024 is perfect for enthusiasts and professional photographers looking to get their image collections under control with cutting-edge AI.
ACDSee Photo Studio 2024 is ideal if you’re looking for a package that combines a robust editor and impressive image-management capabilities; Adobe Lightroom Classic is also a good choice, though if you go in this direction, I’d really recommend supplementing Adobe’s facial-recognition algorithms with the Excire Search plugin. Finally, if you’re just getting started and can’t afford any paid photo organizers, DigiKam is a reasonably effective free choice.
So pick a program that feels right, give it a try, and enjoy the power of facial recognition!