Photo Mechanic

by JL Beeken on 12-20-2009

Photo MechanicAnyone else over the Moon about Photo Mechanic or is it just me? I’ve gotten more photo work done in the past 2 weeks working at it part-time than I have in the entire two years previous staying up all night. It makes me wonder what I was doing all that time. I decided my time is worth more than 2┬ó an hour, and it was time to invest $150 and git ‘er done.

If you’re looking to annotate your photos for searching and the edification of future generations, this is it. Photo Mechanic is sublime. Every time I look I find another useful feature. Here’s some of my favorites so far:

Code Replacement
This can be used in any of the IPTC fields, although Caption & Keywords are probably the most common. You create a plain text document of codes and the names that will replace the codes. For instance, typing in \heb\ would automatically be replaced with Hector Eugene Beeken. I only have to spell it right once and then remember the code, although there’s also a list that shows up next to Caption if I forget. I’ve used this the most in my own generation of family photos where there’s the same 6 or 8 people showing up year after year through hundreds of photos.

IPTC Stationery Pad
Just tick off the fields you want entered, put in their values and apply to hundreds of photos at once. Use the Clear button before each new use or you could end up with some funny results. The down arrow next to each option houses a list that you create as you go along (for future use.) Also prevents spelling errors as you only have to spell it right once and add it to the list. This covers every IPTC field in existence and more than you’ll ever use.

IPTC Stationery Pad, Photo Mechanic

Find or Find & Replace
Oh my goodness. This will search every IPTC field there is. Either a selection of photos or all of them at once.

Select Others (invert)
Let me count the ways. Photos with GPS, photos without GPS. Photos with copyright, photos without copyright. Photos with addresses, photos without addresses. If you’re wondering what work you’ve got done and what you haven’t and think it will take you forever to figure it out, here’s your tool.

Make Arrangement
Ever wish you could re-arrange a folder of pictures by dragging them around on the screen into a better order? Well, you can. Just drag and drop them around on the screen into a better order. Then use the Rename option to rename them.

Since photos come off my digital camera as year-jlb-(4 digit number) and that seems to work, I decided to rename all my ancestor photos the same way, (using family names instead of my own, of course). Consistency helps me to be less confused. Grave photos (because I have so many of them) are named grave-name. This is not written in stone; maybe I’ll change my mind.

The Help Manual
Search for whatever you want and the results will highlight your search term. Take a gander through here before you get started and pick up a few good tips. For instance, after conducting a search for a particular batch of photos, F2 will show your search results in a different window. F1 will take you back to All Photos.

Photo Mechanic is not a photo organizer. It follows the navigation of your operating system. Wherever you keep your photos, that’s where they are. For simplicity, I have two folders, ANCESTORS and DESCENDANTS with very few sub-folders. If you right-click on a folder it gives you options for how you’d like to open something to work on. I’ve opened as many as 5,000 photos at once and it didn’t take more than a few seconds. Even better yet, it didn’t crash my computer.

Open Folders, Photo Mechanic

Wish List
Although Photo Mechanic includes a screen with Google Maps for searching GPS locations and applying them to a single or batch of photos I wish it had somewhere to make a list for re-use, i.e. specific addresses and their co-ordinates. It doesn’t so I keep my own.

Set GPS Coordinates, Photo Mechanic

If you have a GPS device and you need software to line up your locations with your photos, Photo Mechanic can do that too.

Photo Mechanic Video Tutorials (versions 4 & 5)

Disclosure: I am a bona fide user of this product. This is not a paid advertisement.

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