Mac Image Browsers/Batch Processors Mini Reviews – Part 1

As previously mentioned, I decided to explore the Mac OS X options for budget ($100 or less) image browsers/batch processors. I basically wanted something to make it easy for me to generate the watermarked full size/thumbnail pairs I post here in my blog. The premise is that, with a better tool, I’ll spend less time processing and will post photos more often as I’ll avoid that “I don’t have time” roadblock.

My criteria, again:

  • Quick rendering in the browser
  • Batch creation of copies of the images
  • Watermarking
  • Sharpening
  • A nice simple, clean, elegant UI

Without further ado, and in no particular order:

Caffeine Browser
First Impression: The web site is clean and simple, a good sign. The app launches to a typical demo/register dialog with a countdown, then shows the main application interface. The interface is simple, clean and inviting.

Usage: Choosing a folder from the tree menu shows thumbnails of the images in that folder. The images display pretty quickly, though there seems to be a huge amount of padding around each image which reduces the number of images you can see at a time (I couldn’t find a setting for this). At the size of the window and thumbnail that was comfortable for me, I could only see 4 images at a time (2×2) and 9 (3×3) would have easily fit in the space. The watermark option goes away when you select more than one image, and there doesn’t seem to be any ‘batch’ functionality.

Conclusion: Caffeine Browser doesn’t really have most of the functions I’m looking for, but it does do a fairly nice job with what it does. If it weren’t for the padding issues, I’d probably like this quite a bit as an image browser. If you were a Curator1 user, you’ll likely find this to have a similar feel.

Price: $14.95

Downsize
First Impression: Web page is simple and looks good, but it not terribly informative. On first launch, the application starts right up and there is a red banner at the top of the screen telling me how many days I have left (20) to try out the software. I like this better than the countdown approach. The application is pretty straightforward – it’s basically a settings pane for you to enter your batch processing settings.

Usage: By default, the source list shows your iPhoto albums. This is probably a smart decision overall, but as I don’t use iPhoto I’d like a way to turn that off entirely. The Resize tab is quite easy to understand, as is the Watermark tab. I don’t like adding “frames” to images, so I didn’t really look into that functionality. Once you’ve chosen your batch settings, you can hit the Preview button to see how everything will come out -very nice. Clicking the ‘Process Images’ button chugs through everything as you’d expect with very nice results.

Conclusion: Simple, but effective. This tool does a great job batch processing images, but it is missing a few features that would make it really shine. First, there is no way to save your batch settings. For each batch of images, I want to create both a 640px max image (w/ watermark) and a 160px max image without a watermark. I’d have to manually change the settings each time to do this. If Downsize added the ability to save batch profiles, it would be awesome to be able to select multitple profiles to be applied to the selected photos – creating both versions of the image at once.

Price: $19.95

Imagewell
First Impression: The web site is a bit less polished, and reveals that this will be a “metal” application – oh boy… On first launch – I have no idea what this is.

Usage: The interface is not intuitive – settings when applied don’t seem to take effect visually in the sample – I can’t tell what I’m doing. This only seems to want to upload a single image to the web.

Conclusion: This one isn’t for me.

Price: Free

Picture the Batch
First Impression: The web site is a little sparse, though it nicely shows that this product is available for both Mac and Windows. As a Mac user, I always get a little apprehensive about products that also have a Windows version – the average application design aesthetic doesn’t seem to be the same on both platforms. ;) At first launch, I am presented with a message telling me that anything I do with this app will have a demo watermark on it – I’m tempted to ditch it right there.

Usage: A big window titled “Drop Window” opens up after I click ok on the “you can’t actually use anything you create with this product until you buy it” message. This has a not very attractive random smattering of images in it, and some kind of gray background – I’m sure to indicate that this is where you drop your photos. In case the imagery isn’t clear, there is big text on the bottom: Drop your image files onto this window. Unfortunately, it seems that I don’t follow directions well because when I dropped the folder containing my photos onto the window, I was presented with a little toolbox window with the following:

No valid image files were dropped.

I guess I need to drop the files themselves instead of the folder? Ugh – how hard would it have been to support both? Ok, dropping the photos… now a batch processing settings window has popped up. This shows a drop down of presets – nice, I’ll make a new one. Huh? You can only set the scale as either a percentage of the image or the size of the width or height of the image – no max size as (I thought) was the standard for this sort of thing. No preview option and I’m a bit tired of not liking this at every turn so I’m not going to actually go through the batch process.

Conclusion: If you’re more forgiving than I am regarding usability and polish, this might work for you. I really didn’t like it.

Price: $19.95

I’ll keep working through my list of potential options and posting them here as I go. The comments are open.

Please note: All versions reviewed were the latest available at the time this review was published. Software changes with each release, so these reviews may become outdated at any time.

  1. Which was produced by Caffeine software – is there a connection here? [back]