Collect, curate and display… for yourself

In Random Act of Geekery by Santiago ArciniegasLeave a Comment

Got a large image folder backup on your hard drive? Read on!

In the earliest eras of the internet, when people would go online and search for images. Why? cos videos where insanely large for a 56kbps modem connection. These images you would download, save on out hard drive or floppy and then maybe re-upload to your own geocities/angelfire, site.

This need to accumulate and curate you images has always been one of my biggest fascinations among online activities. Why people feel the need to create, curate and showcase random peaces of the internet galleries not merely as a backup practice, but as an unique expression of individuality. People could put their hearts into these pages to show through other art or pieces of memorabilia and fashion… who they are.

However if you have been online for a while too, you know, nothing on the internet is eternal. And geocities died and you changed hosts and lost all the data. Accounts get deleted because users, being naive, upload renaissance paintings that happen to feature and naked child ( I kid you not). Through my life not only had geocities disappeared… but got banned from we heart it and had so far 3 tumblr blogs deleted. So uploading my 3rd parties image collection for reference online hasn’t been that easy. When services like, Pinterest, FFFFound, we ♥ it, pinterest and tumblr are your best friend and your sworn enemy, you are forced to take up the habit of making a nice and clean hard copy of all those nice images you love seeing, just like the 90’s… except floppys won’t cut it… and flash drives can’t be relied on… and who on earth burns a DVD these days?

I have a folder with pictures downloaded since the late 90’s, that’s over 30.000 images I have…. and that doesn’t even include porn. Maybe I’m a hoarder… maybe you are too, and if so you know having this huge folder with files are really a nightmare to organise let alone look at. I check mine almost constantly cos I need it for reference, inspiration or just passing time.

Fortunately there are a few “softwares” that help you with this sort of thing.

Here we’ll give a look to a few for mac!

FoIve purchased and reviewed some of the most popular… My criteria and thought are based on

Interface /  Icon.  I think interface is important because what you are keeping here are not your personal photos but the art you’ve collected over the years. So the aim of the app is to make your art look good, and be easy to browse.

Features: Since most of this images are to be browsed, auto sorting, tagging is a must. Also tools that help clean up are a plus, like finding duplicates or allowing me to clean up my folder from things I don’t want anymore (ej live folders).

Sync. Finally because the cloud is here to stay, I find it useful that my images could be syncd among devices. I’m not talking here about.

Pixave by LittleHJ


With an Icon and interface that is completely seamless to the new OS X look, Pixave is a gorgeous app, it displays the thumbnails of your images beautiful, and has some customization options.

Some of the features I use most are a bit hidden away, like the star rating system. Which should be readily accesible.

Sorting images from  the “all” view is not possible… which means sorting within different collections has to be done one collection at a time.

With most of the competition now abandoned, Pixave really stands out as it looks really modern and is regularly updated.

Extraordinary  Features:

It has color filter tool which doesn’t quite work, but its there, it doesn’t allow you to sort images by colors on the over all view of your collection.

It has a star based rating system that feels a bit clunky but it works.  You have to create a smart to collection if you want to sort through Strarred images.

It has Wonderfull editing system, and embedded sharing functionality. As it handles videos, you can convert em to gifs easily.. An Image crop tool would be great, as well as a video trim ability.

Most extraordinary of all it has a duplicate find options, which is great when updating the image backups you have from Tumblr. This was the reason I bought it.

Keeping it N*Sync:

It has iCloud sync functionality and promises a soon-to-come iOS app… which I am really hyped for!

SparkBox and Pixfeed by IcyBlaze (discontinued)




I Love the Icon and interface somehow makes the images added look really nice.

For some reason it doesn’t use OS X preview function but its own… which i find odd.

Then it has some wonky controls, for example, One is not able to zoom in on the image by scrolling (or pinching). if I want to see some image in detail i have to click the zoom icons.

Extraordinary  Features:

It  has a Smart folder that woks by date only… which isn’t really that helpful.

Has websnap and browser plugin. to add images straight from the web. Useful if using the tumblr backup jammy or capturing a lot of images off a board.

The best feature by far tho is that it sorts by colors very accurately which I love, even by hex color values.

Keeping it N*Sync:

to phone via paid app directly. But thats awesome… even tho it can’t be done through itunes, and has to be done via wifi. And you need to disable the sleep function on you phone if the transfer is for a large library like mine.

It creates its own library so none of the changes made there apply to the actual backup. Also means Deleted images from the app don’t gett actually deleted from the hard drive.

Price: its 19,99 + 4,99. While the paid iPhone app might seem just greedy, i do like that my reference images are somewhere else in my phone, apart from my actual personal photos, so not having them in my camera roll is a plus. The wifi transfer the app offers just isn’t fast/reliable enough, I would like it to use apple’s iCloud instead for syncing but… then you might need to put more cash for larger iCloud storage.

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PixFeed (discontinued)


Formerly known as Drool, this app was separately an image aggregator for social networks such as Instagram, Facebook… but then decided to add some basic functionality, from Sparkbox, as a paid add on so the app could also manage pictures on you hard drive. However it lack the color sorting function is why I decided on purchasing Sparkbox for a full review instead of this one.

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If Icyblaze decided to merge both apps into one… and allowed batch download/backup your tumblr likes/posts, flickr photos/favourites, Instagram photo/likes, dribbble shots/likes… This would be a heck of an app, they could even go crazy and add DeviantArt, Pixiv and Pinterest support. But until then. Otherwise its just an excuse to not use the browser… and if you are paying, Sparkbox is the one to go for.

Note: Unfortunately I think they stopped development of Sparkbox one in favour of Pixfeed, tho none have been updated in a while. Pixfeed at the time of writing has broken functionality when dealing with dribbble and Facebook accounts.

Pixa by Shiny Frog



Ugly icon… I’m sorry… but  the green pipe just shows me off..

However the app if fairly decent, as far as the GUI goes its very nice looking and has a dark theme, but my images somehow don’t look as pretty on it as i would like.

I love that you can sort by image size and  has a zoom view and can extract hexadecimal color values.

Extraordinary Features:

The app has a built in Screen shots tool. Tho not sure if it necessary I like OS X screen cap tool already.

Tho the app does sort images by color, it works by using Auto tags . It has 10 predefined tags… and its sorts images into one of those 10 colours… which is both too broad and not very accurate.

Also has Size based auto which might come in handy for some tags might come in useful… but when I’m looking for a specific image its easier to just think what color it was.


It syncs your library to dropbox which is cool… and you use drop box for this. B

What I love most its that has live folders instead of its own library so whatever changes you make to the library also happen on you image folder on your hard drive. Next you could sync that folder you phone using iTunes or whatever.



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Price: $30 USD, but often bundled with other apps… ironically often with the following app.

Ember by Realmac (discontinued)



It has a nice icon that integrates with yosemite perfectly… and this one uses OS X preview. The app looks beautiful and like Pixfeed you can integrate RSS feeds from sites like Dribble, so from the go you can have some really great inspiration images just there.

Extraordinary Features:

Has basic edit tool for pics, which might come in handy.

Sorts by color but you can’t choose the color you want to see… you have to create a smart folder for each color you are interested in looking which can take time.

Has a tool that takes screenshots and web snapshots but it can create videos from screen recording!

Oh and yeah… it can also handle videos!

Keeping it N*Sync:

It creates its own library of images, but unlike Sparkbox. It has an auto import feature so any images added  will be adde there too and any you delete will be deleted… just know ion you hard drive they will take twice the space.

Aso since its in its own library but has no iOS app you can’t sync this one on your mobile directly or with iTunes. You ca n however have your library on drop box and access it on any macs you have with Ember installed… cool but not great if you have library as big as mine.

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Bonus mention: Clipstart by River fold



It had a beautiful Icon and then they changed it for the current one… which I don’t really care for. A yosemite integration is highly anticipated.

The app looks ok, a bit a outdated but holds its gross just fine.

Extraordinary Features:

The app allows you to make some basic edits to vids.

When consolidated The app has a useful duplicate finder, so you don’t waste space with twice of the same file.

Keeping it N*Sync:

The app cases both live folders and has the option to consolidate all alive folders into its own library.

Has a video share export that supports Flickr, which unfortunately is not working right now.


At $29 bucks is on the pricey side… but if you have a lot of clips that are just for storage and not to make movies. This might be the way to go… cos iMovie its a bit complicated for managing large video collections that are meant to just sit there and not become something else. This is basically what and iVideos app should be.

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Note: After contacting with the author, A new version of clipstart is in the works that will fix flickr integration.


There is no perfect app. Tho I believe there could be if you mixed all of these together.   Having a separate libraries from the folder you make your image backups in makes most of the apps excessively large. Managing videos is awesome, which is why I now Pixave is the best of the bunch, which means I can keep both my art assets and XXX material. It also included two of my wish-list features. One, It has the ability to Upload your backup to the cloud, and while its doesn’t allow you to re post it on social media (like we ♥ it or Tumblr) and its amazing. And two, it has a duplicate finder that keeps my library really slim.

I few things I would add in my dream app, would be to simply support more image sharing sites, within the app. And have the ability to backup all my activity from them… nothing in the internet is eternal. And having my curated likes/faves/reblogs lost… its just a shame.

I would love it if the image could use google images search functionality and suggest or identify the source of the source. Right now, using this reverse image search is how I track the author of a picture I really like and its not credited. Also while at it -using also google images  AI to generate tags automagically would be… epic.


Now, while I get to learn to develop apps… or better yet (but even more unlikely)  meet some cool developer who wants to develop my ideas so we both get rich, you can try one of these apps and enjoy you hard copy backup of everything you’ve downloaded from the webs!

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