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What’s that? You want more ways to stay organized and find things quickly? Well, not to worry. ACDSee has a variety of styles in which you can organize, so you can really just pick your favorite. Potentially your new favorite way to organize involves using the Collections tool. It’s exactly what it sounds like. You collect photos based on a common variable. That variable is up to you. And then you can find them super easy. Collections is a powerful grouping and search query tool, and is arguably the most efficient way of finding elusive photos.

You might choose to group based on the camera used, or maybe the size of the image. Or you might make collections for workflow purposes, such as collecting images you intend to share or process. It’s up to you — and you don’t have to explain your decisions to anyone!

To Create a Collection:

1. In Manage mode, at the bottom of the Folders pane, select Collections, which is tabbed with Catalog and Calendar.

2. In the Collections pane, right-click and select Create Collection… from the context menu.

Manage Mode - ACDSee

3. In the Create Collection dialog box, make some decisions. Name your collection—that’s obvious. In the Location section, you can choose to place this collection inside of a previously existing collection. But assuming this is your first time and that you do not have a time machine, you can overlook this part this time.

Under Options, select Include selected photos to effectively achieve two steps in one: creating a collection and adding the selected photos to it right away. But adding images to your collection after the fact is not difficult, so don’t sweat it if you didn’t have any photos selected. And then select Set as target collection to say that this is the collection you want to be able to send photos to with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Alt + C.

Create Collection Dialogue

4. Press the Create button.

Adding Photos to Collections

Now there’s a number of ways you can add the photos you want to your new collection. You can right-click the images in the File List pane and choose Collections | Add to | [name of the collection]. Or you can do the ol’ drag and drop your images from the File List pane onto the collection inside the Collections pane.

Adding to Collections

Or, with the Organize tab of the Properties pane open, you can select the images in the File List pane and select the checkbox next to the collection.

Select Photos for Collections

If you didn’t set your collection as the target collection in the set up phase, or if you want to change the target to another collection, you can do it at any time by right-clicking the collection and choosing Set as Target Collection. A target collection will display a blue circle icon next to it in the Collections pane. It looks like this:

Collections Pane

With your target collection set, you can easily add as you go by selecting the image(s) and pressing Ctrl+ Alt + C.

Before we go any further, let’s cover what to do if you were sleeping and put the wrong images in the wrong collection. Select the collection in the Collections pane. Then right-click the image(s) in the File List pane and choose Collections | Remove from Selected Collection.

Remove from Selected Collection

This won’t delete the image(s). It will only remove it/them from the collection. As you can see, you can also opt to remove it/them from all collections.

Finding Images with Collections

Now for the interesting part. While grouping your images is fun, a collection’s true purpose is to be ridiculously awesome at finding the images you need at any given time. This is where smart collections come in. It’s not that the average collection lacks intelligence, but more that a smart collection’s IQ is off the chart. A smart collection is a collection with a query built inside of it. Yes, inside. How does it get there? You, my friend, specify what you want it to be and the images that fit your query will show up in your smart collection.

Well that sounds kind of complicated. Technically speaking, it probably is. But for you, it’s positively accessible. Search queries get saved to the database and when you catalog new images in the future, the ones that fit your search query criteria will automatically show up in your smart collection.

So let’s make a number of smart collections and see what we can find.

1. In the Collections pane, right-click and select Create Smart Collection… from the context menu.

2. In the Create Smart Collection dialog box, enter a name for your collection—something that will help you remember what search query it contains. In the Location section, leave the Inside a Collection Set checkbox enabled to place the collection under the Smart Collections folder to keep it separate from not smart regular collections. In the Match section, press the Add button.

Create Smart Collection

3. In the Add Search Criteria dialog box, choose criteria by clicking the plus + signs to expand the tree and toggling the checkboxes on and off to select your properties.

Add Search Criteria Dialogue

4. Press OK.

Smart Collection Dialogue_1

5. Refine each item by clicking the underlined variables and selecting an option from the drop-down, or entering a number or word into the field.

Smart Collection Dialogue_2

6. Press OK. Select the smart collection in the Collections pane to reveal the results of the query.

Smart Collections

There are a wide variety of search queries you can create. Let’s say you’re looking for some photos you’ve uploaded but you don’t know exactly when. You know it had to be some time between the present day and April 2014. These would not be difficult to find. In the Add Search Criteria dialog box, expand the EXIF section, then expand the Image section. Here, check the box beside Date/Time. Press OK.

You can refine a date and time range by selecting the underlined date. This will open the Select Time Range dialog box, where you can specify down to the second.

Select Time Range Dialogue

Press OK.

You can further define by clicking the underlined word between the property and the date and selecting an alternative. By choosing “is within”, the smart collection will take the amount of time between the two dates and apply that relative to the present date. What this means is that the query will always return images within the past 731 days. There’s no need to update it.

Edit Smart Collection Dialogue_1 Edit Smart Collection Dialogue_2

And that’s that. Happy hunting!

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