Photo Collections: IrfanView

by JL Beeken on 3-05-2012

IrfanviewAfter the post on photo collections I’m sure some of you are wondering how you can do this for free, so I’ll tell you.

I’ve found a way to make photo collections with IrfanView. Sort of. All you need is a text file of file-paths to your photos.

Creating a Photo Collection with Irfanview

Assuming you already have embedded tags in your photos you can go to Thumbnail view and search them. You can search individual folders, folders with sub-folders or you can even search your whole hard-drive, then click Show in Thumbnails.

Search, Irfanview

As you can see, the search options aren’t much but let’s say it’s Oakland Cemetery I’m looking for. If I search for ‘oakland cemetery’ it will bring up every photo with the word ‘cemetery’. If I put quotations around it, it will still bring up every photo with ‘cemetery’ in it.

In a few seconds, searching on ‘oakland’ brings up 107 photos of gravestones in Oakland Cemetery. Only because I already have that information embedded in the IPTC sub-location field.

Next step. Select all the thumbnails and click Save selected file names as TXT.

Save File List, IrfanView

I’ve now saved a list of file-paths to the photos as oakland-cemetery.TXT.

Opening a Photo Collection in Irfanview

The next time I open IrfanView I can go to Load file list from TXT file and browse to my oakland-cemetery.TXT file.

Load File List, IrfanView

I can do a few creative things with this; contact sheet, send by email, create a slideshow, even copy them into a different folder temporarily and use them in other software.

You can’t load more than one list at a time unless you combine the text files first.

You can remove individual files from the thumbnails to tweak your collection without deleting them from your hard-drive. Then re-save the collection under a different file name.

Remove Thumbnails From List, IrfanView

Adding files from other folders is trickier. If you move your cursor over to the file browser to find other files the thumbnails from your text file will disappear.

So you’d have to go at it the other way around. Make a folder for your collection. And then browse through the folders there adding files to it. This won’t move files from their original locations but create copies in the new folder.

It’s not a great solution as I explained about duplicate files in my last post on photo collections. But it will allow you to gather together photos temporarily for use in a project you’re working on.

You can also go around your computer adding copies of files to a folder. The search parameters in IrfanView are seriously lacking so you can use Search in other software to find the files you want. In this case, of course, you don’t need a text file because you’ve got a folder of photo copies to load.

If you look at one of these TXT files you’ll see that it’s just a list of file-paths to your photos.

Photo File Paths

Creating a Photo Collection with Directory List & Print

You can also create a list like this in a text file by using Directory List & Print. If you’re collecting a particular folder. You can’t drill down into individual files. And you wouldn’t want to anyway. It would take you forever.

Directory List & Print

‘Copy to clipboard’ and then paste it into a text document. If you use a text editor like Notepad++ instead of Notepad on Windows you’ll have fancy search options if you want them. For instance, if you want to look for file-names with a particular word in them and kill the rest.

Anyway, the point is you just need a text file of file-paths to be able to load the thumbnails into IrfanView.

Of course, if you rename or move files anywhere on your hard-drive they’re going to leave any collection you’ve added them to. That goes for any way you do this and any software you use.

As long as your file locations are stable you’ll be able to re-load a collection at any time. Just create a folder for your collections and put all your text files into it.

If you want more ways to search your files the only other thing you need for your GPS and IPTC annotation is GeoSetter, and that’s also free.

So, there it is – if your money’s more valuable than your time – how to make photo collections without spending a cent.

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