Picktorial 4.0 review: Photo editor enhances its organizing features

When I reviewed Picktorial 3.0, I noted how the software took a few unconventional approaches to photo editing and employed a clever way to save non-destructive edits. The new Picktorial 4.0 adds some new editing features, but mostly focuses on the organizing side of working with your library of images.

An editing assistant

When you’re making adjustments to a photo—retouching in particular—you want to view the image at actual size to see how the edits are affecting the pixels. The new Assistant Viewer splits the editing area so you can view the full image in one pane while you’re applying corrections at 100 percent in the other pane. It’s a simple and effective alternative to zooming in and out repeatedly to see how the edits look.

picktorial4 assistant view IDG

The new Assistant View spilts into two sections.

However, the panes are not automatically synced. When you select another image to edit, the Assistant Viewer continues to show the previous image. You must click the new pane to activate it, and then select the image you want in the browser. It would be better to be able to switch to another image and have it load into both panes, or include this behavior as a preference.

Picktorial 4.0 also adds the ability to batch-apply edits to multiple photos by copying adjustments from one image and pasting them to one or more other shots. You can also batch-export images and create presets for specifying parameters such as filename, size, format, and quality levels.

Picktorial’s developers tout increased performance, especially when working with files exceeding 50 megapixels that are produced by high-resolution cameras. I did notice an improvement, but there’s still lag whenever you load a Raw image while the software interprets it. Don’t expect to shuttle quickly through a folder of Raw images, though the lag is much shorter or imperceptible when opening JPEG images, depending on the size of the file. (I ran Picktorial on a late-2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and a discrete Radeon Pro 460 graphics processor. Not the latest and greatest hardware, but it’s also not outdated.)

Search and albums

The photo organizing side of Picktorial gets the most attention in this release. Whereas some applications track everything—from file locations to edits—in a central catalog (such as Apple Photos and Adobe Lightroom), others rely on the Finder to do the organizing. Picktorial takes the latter approach, reading data directly from the files on disk, and writing the edit information back to JPEGs or, with Raw images, to .xmp text files on the side.

However, for search in Picktorial 4.0, the developers don’t lean on macOS’s Spotlight. Picktorial builds its own index, which results in faster search and the ability to do more with the data, such as create smart albums and sort photos using multiple criteria, without maintaining a central catalog file. The Library sidebar includes several pre-made searches, such as All Photos, star rating levels (such as 2 stars and higher), All Edited photos, and the like. There’s also a Search field for typing keywords and other queries.

That field presents a lot of possibilities, as Picktorial takes a text-based approach to searching. If you know the language, you can type it into the Search field. For example, let’s say you want to locate all the photos with the keyword “flower” rated two stars or higher. You have two options: click the pre-made 2-star-plus search item and then type “flower” into the Search field; or, type “flower rating>=2” in the field. One annoyance: if your query exceeds more than a couple of terms, the Search field doesn’t expand or wrap down to another line, so you won’t see characters that run longer than the visible area. According to the application’s documentation, specific attributes are limited to text contained in the photo name, keyword, camera name, camera maker and rating. The available syntax isn’t spelled out, and my attempts to search for, say, all images captured at f/2.8 proved unsuccessful. The search implementation has the potential to be powerful, but it’s not at all intuitive.