ACDSee 5.0 PowerPack Review
Phil Askey, February 2003

PowerPack Software Suite

ACDSee 5.0 is available as two different packages, first of all there is the ACDSee browser / viewer without any support products, secondly there is the ACDSee PowerPack which in addition to the ACDSee browsing / organizational software you also get ACD FotoAngelo (Slide show / screen saver creation software) and ACD FotoCanvas (Photo editting). In this review we will be covering ACDSee 5.0 in some detail as well as a brief look at ACD FotoAngelo 2.0 and ACD FotoCanvas 2.0. Note that the standard ACDSee 5.0 package does include a Lite versoin of ACD FotoCanvas.

ACDSee supports a huge variety of image formats from the standard BMP, JPEG, GIF, TIFF to more exotic formats such as Canon RAW (CRW) and Photoshop (PSD).

Note that in the screen captures taken the applications have been installed with default settings and no user interface customization has taken place, ACDSee's user interface can be heavily customized to suite your own requirements and need not be as complex as may initially seem to be the case.

ACDSee 5.0

Main Window

Below is an example of the main ACDSee 5.0 window, this can be more easily explained with the concept of window panes. On the left we have the Navigation pane (folder browsing etc.), below this the Preview pane and to the right the File pane. Note that this pane layout can be modified in the 'Customize Layout' menu option. Above these three panes we have the toolbar (a row of icons) and the menu bar.

This is the default file view mode after installing the application, a grid of thumbnails showing all the images in the current folder / album / search result along with a preview of the currently selected image.

You can also choose from six other file view modes, two of the probably more often used of which are shown below. These file views can be customized, as we will see later. I would personally have liked the ability to view EXIF metadata in the detail file view mode but this is not currently possible in ACDSee 5.0. Note that you can also choose what files are shown (Filter option) and in what order the files are shown (Sort option).

Thumb + Detail file view mode Details file view mode

Ways to navigate images

In ACDSee 5.0 there are numerous ways to navigate images, you can if you wish simply browse through filesystem folders (probably the most often used), you can add images to albums and browse that way, search through your database or browse the calendar. The last two options require that you have already cataloged images on your hard disk(s) and/or CD-ROM discs (more on this later) - this navigation option is not shown below.

Just like Windows Explorer, just select a folder in the tree view
Allows you to pick out album collections (as well as archive files). An album is essentially a group of shortcuts to images
Calendar (Year view)
Here you can see the number of items in each year, click on a year to see all images in the file view pane *
Calendar (Month view)
Drill down to months within the year, the numbers in bold type indicate some images on that date. Also available is a day view *
Find files with names matching a wildcard criteria or with certain text in the description etc. You can also search between a date range, taken by a certain photographer, with certain properties (dimensions, color depth) or metadata (type of camera, flash used etc.)
Find files in a certain category, this can be 'Match Any' (OR) / 'Match All' (AND). Categories can be added or removed here.

* Files must be cataloged in the database before they can be searched in this way, calendar date can be either the ACDSee DB date, Metadata (EXIF) date or File modified date.

File Pane Views

Above the file pane are four tabs marked File, View, Properties and ACDInTouch. The first three provide different methods of browsing the selected images, the last connects you to ACD System's update and information provision service, ACDInTouch. As with other parts of the interface it is possible to enable or disable any of these tabs.

A full pane of images in the selected view mode
A horizontal film strip of images across the top of the pane, click on an image to view it below
A horizontal film strip of images across the top of the pane, click on an image to view its properties (including EXIF Metadata)
Connects to the Internet to retrieve the latest ACD information and also check for software updates