30 minutes of research on google yields nothing except the defunct phylum. Features I would need:

  • referenced/in-place management (images should remain where they are found on the drive)
  • support for eps/pdf/png/gif and some movies maybe
  • heavily customizable metadata (for me, the images are software generated, they are visualization of simulation data. It would be nice to embed some information of these simulations into the images.)
  • smart folders based on metadata


  • version control/non-destructive editing
  • quantitative image comparison

Picasa is a good start, too bad it doesn't support eps or pdf, which makes it less than ideal for older LaTeX stuff. Just realized it also doesn't support smart folders... Big fail ! I guess I'm spoiled by Apple but I would have thought this would be pretty much standard in any app by now... Any other suggestion? Also, this might not be the most appropriate SE site for this question but it's pretty generic and since I'm looking at something on the Mac, I thought I would start here... Thanks in advance !

  • I am having difficulty understanding what you are looking for. Can you give a specific example of "software for scientific image management" that meets your criteria on any platform other than the Mac?
    – user9290
    Apr 17, 2012 at 6:09
  • I haven't really found anything that fits. There are a few applications specific to medical imagery (RMI, microscope, CT-scan, etc...) but they are very focused on their specific fields. So it looks like this kind of software doesn't really exist, or at least I couldn't find it. Do you think I could cross-post this to another SE site? Apr 17, 2012 at 20:01
  • Perhaps it would be helpful if you would describe your specific field and the specific kinds of images you are cataloging.
    – user9290
    Apr 17, 2012 at 20:16

3 Answers 3


Metadata and smart folders are supported as part of OS X and integrated into Finder. Very basic example:

  • In Finder, pick any file(s) you want and select Get Info
  • In the Spotlight Comments field, enter tags, such as @fluid or @simulation (separate them by spaces).
  • From the File menu, select New Smart Folder
  • Click the plus icon to the right of Save
  • Select type Spotlight Comment (under Other...) and enter the tags you want in this smart folder, for example @fluid
  • Save and add the new smart folder to the Finder sidebar
  • Select the new smart folder and you will see all files with the @fluid tag

Preview.app can view all of the above file types you've mentioned (and Quicktime + Perian can do so for movies). Now you just need an image editor for the rest.

  • That's one way of doing it indeed, but it could become quickly cumbersome don't you think? Apr 17, 2012 at 20:03
  • Depends on the kind and amount of metadata you want to store. For tagging, this works just fine. And you can enhance it with Automator and AppleScript to suit your needs. Apr 17, 2012 at 21:15

ACDSee Pro

I'm looking for something similar. We have thousands of images on a network drive that I'd like to manage using my MacBook Air, and the relatively small hard drive makes keeping the large catalogs needed for iPhoto, etc. impossible. I just found that ACDSee is now available for the Mac and am going to give that a try.


Would Adobe Lightroom or Apple Aperture meet your needs? Both are for advanced photo editing, but they also include features for cataloging and managing very large libraries of images, including metadata tools.

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