MediaDex, Part 1: Organize, Annotate & Share Your Multimedia

2010 update: MediaDex has been defunct since 2008. It’s now called Canto Single User. I don’t use it or recommend it anymore. If you’re looking for good IPTC software, try Photo Mechanic or GeoSetter.

If you’re still looking for IPTC software that goes beyond JPGs, this could be it. I tried several but MediaDex is the only one I’ve found that will add IPTC information to multiple formats. It also claims to be familiar with 127 different file types. BreezeBrowser has multi-format ability (photos only) but I found some incompatibility problems there, no response from their tech support and the trial version went by too fast.

MediaDex comes in two versions, Standard and Professional. The Pro version also handles PDFs, MS office documents and digital RAW images.

I liked the feeling of this software immediately. After that I was lost. About Day 4, when I was ready to pack it in, I suddenly made a breakthrough. The breakthrough came about by reading the instructions.

The instructions are available at their website under MediaDex Support. MediaDex Tutorial and MediaDex Tutorial Examples. This is not the whole manual which is built into the software but a shorter piece to get you started. Download them both and work your way through. The fog will begin to leave your eyes. It also has 4 community forums (United States, France, International and Deutschland) where you can communicate with other users.

When you first install the software it will ask you to either buy or register. You can also choose to cancel that screen and the program will open. In trial mode, you are limited to 2 catalogs and 250 records. Once you register you have unlimited access for 30 days, after which time it will revert to the limited version unless you’ve made a purchase. That means you have plenty of time to look this over and experiment. And that’s a good thing.


Basically, what you’re doing here is creating a cataloging structure, any way you want it, and then assigning one or more categories to your assets. Create some category names and then import some assets (files). Highlight a batch that belong to a particular category, and drag and drop them onto the category name. An asset can belong to any number of categories. Thereafter, double-clicking on a category, or multiple categories, will bring up all the assets belonging there. But that’s only the beginning.

“Records” are any information that have been added to your “assets” and there are several ways of adding and viewing this. My favorite is the Information Window, where you can cycle through your assets adding information as you go. Caption, copyright notice, keywords, author, date created, etc. You are virtually unlimited in the fields available and you can arrange them in the order you like, or you can make your own templates. This is the IPTC Information window. There are others: Audio, PDF, Office Documents, PPT, Standard, etc.


IPTC, as described in a previous post, is a standard set by the International Press Telecommunications Council, for embedding information in photographs, and compatible across a range of other graphics software, although commonly limited to JPGs and uncompressed TIFFs, or JPGs only.

What you have to do in MediaDex to get started for IPTC is “Prepare the Catalog”. I don’t know why it’s programmed this way, but you have to go to File/Administration/Prepare Catalog/for IPTC and it will run a script to set things up. And you have to turn on “Always” under ‘Writing Metadata to Assets’ in the Asset Handling Sets window. Otherwise it will not keep IPTC info. There, I just saved you three days of wondering. Then I went back and did XMP and EXIF too, just in case.

If you’re the type of person who can read a Help File and enjoy figuring things out, this software will reward you for your efforts. If you’re the kind of user who won’t make the effort, do not pass Go, do not. The depth of options here make MediaDex look daunting and it doesn’t have to be, but this is not Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition.

MediaDex has the capacity to handle a lot of information and do it fast. It has all the usual options of importing, exporting, copying, moving, renaming, emailing, printing. You can watch slideshows, make Web albums and batch convert.

You can even dump every single photo and document on your entire computer into a Central Asset Location, import them all at once and start organizing from scratch. Ouch.

The Search capability is mind-boggling in its depth. Quick Search, Regular or Advanced. It will search 131 types of information and you can have as many ‘ands’ and ‘ors’ as you like or a choice of 14 other operators such as contains, starts with, up to, from, etc.

MediaDex Find Records

The Preferences section is almost another program in itself.

MediaDex Preferences

MediaDex is the most thorough cataloging software I’ve seen. You can index in minute detail and search 10’s of thousands of files here in equally minute detail. What more could you want? Not another single excuse for not including source information on every single photo or document you ever download or scan.

Available in English, German, French and Japanese, with 12 months of free upgrades. Compatible with Windows and Mac.

Have fun!

2 thoughts on “MediaDex, Part 1: Organize, Annotate & Share Your Multimedia

  1. Margaret Eves

    Thanks for the informative review of MediaDex. I’ve been searching for good photo database software on and off for years. I’m an experienced Filemaker Pro database user, so lots of fields don’t scare me. In fact, that’s what I was yearning for.

    I only discovered IPTC metadata TODAY!!! This is a shock to me since I finished up my Master’s in Library Science in 2006. We talked Dublin Core out the ying-yang. (OK, maybe IPTC got mentioned in the alphabet soup lesson, but I didn’t retain it.) I’m a former video editor and have done some amateurish attempts at video library cataloging using Filemaker Pro. But I have a rather large collection of historical family photos that I desperately need to scan and create digital images. I’ll take a look at MediaDex. OH, HERE’s MY QUESTION:

    How well would MediaDex talk to Reunion? I know that I can tell Reunion the location of an image file. But would Reunion have to go through MediaDex, or would both Reunion and/or MediaDex simply be looking at the image files in a separate folder/location. That is, the image files aren’t “contained” within MediaDex.

    Hope that makes sense.

    I’m just now reading up on the Multimedia features for Reunion, so I may discover the answer myself. (Yes I’ve finally reached the point where I have to “read the directions.” Gone are the days when I used to study PRINTED software manuals.)

    Good to discover your blog.
    -Margaret Eves
    Researching Eves, Thom, Davis, Davis, Armstrong, Morton, Daniel, etc.

    1. JL Post author

      How exciting! IPTC is my favorite photo-related obsession.

      I’m not acquainted with Reunion. What I would be looking at there is whether Reunion can ‘read’ IPTC info at all. And if so, how much of it? Maybe two or three fields? At best, I suspect, it’s not going to import everything you can enter into your MediaDex database so it’s not an equal conversation. Can it also ‘write’ IPTC?

      Your photos are only linked to MediaDex; it’s not separate copies. If the files are linked to Reunion as well, the IPTC info just is what it is, whether it’s entered using MediaDex or something else.

      If you add IPTC using other software would it then ‘update’ itself in Reunion? Or does it only pick up what’s there at the time you first link the images into Reunion?

      Lots of questions and not enough answers for you. Without being an expert in this subject, I would guess that genealogy software in general is not hugely concerned with being on the cutting edge of IPTC-compatibility. Test this out and surprise me …

      P.S. MediaDex is now upgraded into a version called Canto Single User and is, reportedly, in better hands for future developments.


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