Review: Shotwell Photo Management

"Shotwell is a digital photo organizer designed for the GNOME desktop environment. It allows you to import photos from disk or camera, organize them in various ways, view them in full-window or fullscreen mode, and export them to share with others."
Shotwell is going to be the default  photo-management program in Ubuntu 10.10. It is also completely Mono-free. The project home is at
Features include:
  • Basic RAW support
  • Image zooming
  • PNG support
  • Support for EXIF, IPTC, and XMP
  • Ability to edit with external editor
  • Printing support
Importing Photos
  • Drag-and-drop: You may drag files or directories of photos from your file manager and drop them onto the Shotwell window, which runs the import routine. By default, it copies photos to your library directory - usually the Pictures folder in your /home folder. Hold down Ctrl and Shift while dragging for Shotwell to  imports to the library without copying the photos.
  • Camera: Shotwell will detect a camera connected to the computer and show it in the sidebar. On selecting the camera, Shotwell will load previews of each photo for you to select or import the lot.
  • File menu: Selecting File > Import From Folder and choose a folder; Shotwell scans the folder and all sub-folders for photo files to import. The Import From Folder dialog contains a checkbox to copy files or not.
Most of Shotwell's reputation is built on the speed of the import process.

Once imported, the main gallery window provides thumbnail views of your image library, either a straightforward gallery of everything (Photos) or by alternate categories such as by date or whatever you define (Events). You can access to the image management functions through the top menus or right-click an image for the context menu:
  • Add tags  (tag multiple images by dragging a bounding box over a selection; control and shift allow selective add/remove from a selection)
  • Mark as favourites
  • Rotate left or right
  • Enhance - a basic sharpen, brighten, contrast operation
  • Hide
  • Duplicate
  • Remove
  • Show/Hide within the library
  • Set an image as your desktop background
The bottom toolbar enables quick access to rotate, enhance and also provides a Slideshow button (or use a familiar f5 key), which also gives you a slideshow actions and preferences toolbar. There's also a Publish button which will publish to Facebook, Flickr, Picassa. Shotwell prompts you to login to whichever account you select to leads through the upload process.

Like Picassa and F-Spot, Shotwell provides basic photo editing, only faster:
  • Rotate
  • Crop
  • Red-eye  removal - gives you two circles for you to position and size before applying the red-eye filter
  • Enhance - that all-in-one basic sharpen, brighten, contrast operation
  • Adjustment for colour, hue, sat, brightness, contrast
It's all done quickly and smoothly and the whole thing is so much more fluid and robust than F-Spot (which I've never got along with). Shotwell provides the basics of photo library management, but if you need proper editing and retouching you'll still need a full graphics program.  RC