Extensis Portfolio 6.1; It's Time To Get Organized

Where in the world is that wonderful shot you took last summer of Carolyn at the lake? And whatever happened to those great photos from the trip to Yellowstone that you want to e-mail to a friend? Whether your digital pictures are from a digital camera, scans from prints, negatives (or slides, or corrected and enhanced versions saved in the format of your image-editing software, on hard drives, Zip disks, Kodak CDs or on CDs, or DVDs that you burned yourself) you need to be able to find them quickly and easily. So what's the best way to keep track of them?

Extensis Portfolio 6.1 At A Glance
· Mac & Windows compatible
· Catalogs from all media
· Fast keyword searchers
· Offers easy web templates
· FolderSync offers instant updates

Photos © 2003, Howard Millard All Rights Reserved

Search And Discover
For versatility and ease of use, Portfolio 6.1 from Extensis is a top contender. In short order, this Mac and Windows software will generate a catalog of thumbnail images from your folders, discs, hard drives, and removable media. You can then search for images visually and by keywords, which you assign to individual images or groups of photos. You can tell Portfolio to automatically add file names, folders and path data as keywords. Customizable searches and views help you organize, access, and distribute your pictures. To share your work, Portfolio 6.1 will also create full screen, self-running slide shows which include navigation controls. Furthermore, Mac users can export slide shows as QuickTime movies. From any catalog of your pictures, Portfolio will create web pages using professionally designed templates. No HTML code knowledge is required. If you do know HTML, you can customize advanced website templates.

Download Ease
For digital camera users, Portfolio lets you re-name, categorize, and copy photos from your camera (or other sources) to your computer's hard drive. You can rotate images and import EXIF data, too. For existing files, folders, and discs, you can generate a new catalog or add to an existing one with a couple of mouse clicks. Want to send a CD (or other removable media) of your pictures to a friend or client? Simply choose which images you want to include, and Portfolio will collect them and add a copy of the free, read-only Portfolio Browser software so that recipients can preview, search, and sort through your pictures.


Almost A Plug-In
Now, with Version 6.1, whenever you copy, move, re-name, or delete files and folders on your hard drive(s) from within Portfolio, the new FolderSync feature keeps all these changes synchronized with your catalogs. Finally, your entire digital library is at your fingertips with the new Portfolio Express palette. Without leaving your current application--such as Adobe Photoshop or Elements--you can use this floating palette to quickly find and access any cataloged image you want. Decide you want to use it in a text document or add it to the image you're working on? Simply drag it from the Portfolio Express palette onto the application you're working in.

Get Organized
Here's a quick overview of how to organize your files with Portfolio 6.1. If a lot of your images are archived on CD or DVD, like mine are, the first thing to do is give each of these a unique name, and label each disc with it. Otherwise, you'll never be able to find the original discs. I use a simple numbering system starting with 0001. Similarly, with files on your hard drive, be sure that each image has a unique name.

Next, launch Portfolio. An Open dialog box (#1) is displayed. Click on the New Catalog button, which opens a new dialog titled, Save, (#2). In the "Save As:" box, type in the name you want to give to your catalog, such as Photos HM 2003. Then decide where you want the catalogs to be stored. I created a new folder on one of my hard drives to hold all my Portfolio catalogs. Now click Save and a new window opens with the name of your catalog.


It couldn't be easier to add your images to the catalog. Simply drag a file, folder, or disc icon (of a CD or DVD, for example) from your desktop onto the Portfolio window on the right (#3). Or click the Add button at the upper left of the dialog box and navigate to the item you want to add. Alternatively, you can Control-click (Mac) or Right-click (Win) any icon to add items to your catalog from within the Mac Finder or Windows Explorer. Portfolio can catalog most digital file types, including JPEG, TIFF and raw files, and will render a thumbnail preview of documents created in the most common graphics and video formats. It will also catalog text, PDF, PowerPoint, and audio files.


Organizing Options
When you drag an item into the open catalog window, a new dialog called "Cataloging Options" opens (#4). This is a great timesaver because you can automatically add a lot of caption information and keywords to multiple images--without having to re-type it all in for each picture. Click the checkbox to "Assign Properties to Added Files," and select the tabs to add Description, Keywords, and Fields. In my example, for Description I typed in "Green Market, Union Square" where all the photos on my CD were taken. Under keywords I typed in flowers, fruits, vegetables, produce, markets, food, New York, and so on--all the keywords I could think of that might help me find one of these pictures later or might be in a request from a picture buyer.

Part of Portfolio's power is that it gives you the flexibility to add more keywords and new fields later. A field is a database category that holds a specific type of information. Fields can include Description, Keywords, File name, File size, Photographer--the choice is yours. To add data later, go to Item>Get Info/Properties. In the keywords, you can add anything by typing, or you can remove a word or phrase by highlighting it and clicking Remove.


Advanced Options
With Advanced Cataloging Options, you can use mapping to set up Portfolio to automatically add data to catalogs from many digital cameras. Portfolio provides ready to use Tag Codes for data in the following formats: Photoshop, EXIF, IPTC, and TIFF. If you want to include all this data in your catalog, but the procedure sounds a bit too technical for you, contact Extensis to see if they have created a sample catalog file for your particular camera. A tech support person e-mailed me one called "EXIF Sample Catalog.fdb" to extract EXIF data from files from the Canon 10D digital SLR.

Now let's get back to cataloging existing files. As soon as I dragged my CD icon into the cataloging window, Portfolio went to work and quickly generated a gallery of thumbnails of my images (#5). Note that my file names are shown in the view under each image. A gallery is a collection of thumbnails and information within Portfolio, such as the one created from whatever you drag onto the cataloging window. A gallery can also show the results of a search. My catalog for the year 2003 will be made up of many galleries. With a gallery open, to name or save the gallery, go to the menu bar at the top of the screen. Choose Gallery>Save, type in a name and click OK. This is where I type in the number of my disc, CD 0039 for example. You could also use descriptive names, such as "Yellowstone Trip," but be sure you know where you have filed the CD in order to find it later.


Find Those Images
Once your photos have been cataloged, Portfolio offers easy ways to find, retrieve, and use them. While browsing through galleries, simply double-click a thumbnail to preview it. Portfolio can directly open most image, movie, and sound files without launching the programs that created them. To see detailed info about a file, select a thumbnail and click the toolbar button for Get Info (Mac) or Properties (Win).

Want to find a photo fast? Click in the QuickFind box at the top right of the window (#6). Type a word or phrase in the box and press Return. QuickFind will search the file name, description, and keyword fields to find all images that contain what you typed. Matching items are displayed in the gallery window. To narrow your search or when you want to set more specific guidelines, click the Find button (magnifying glass icon) or choose Catalog>Find. Now you can specify which field to search and add much more detailed search criteria.
Once you've found the photos you want to use, you can e-mail individual files or collections to friends or clients, and copy them to a CD with the option of including a catalog and a read-only browser. Further, as mentioned earlier, Portfolio will create web pages from selected items or entire catalogs, create a self-running slide show, and export a QuickTime movie with 14 different transition effects (#7).


It's time to end the chaos. Copy, catalog, and re-name pictures that you download from your digital camera. Take charge of your collection of photos and find any one of them in seconds by typing only a word or phrase. Then, when you have a request from Aunt Maud for that picture you took years ago, you'll be able to find it in a flash. Plus, you'll sleep better knowing that you've taken control of your digital photo files.

Extensis Portfolio 6.1, MSRP $199.95. At www.extensis.com, you'll find an online demo movie as well as a free 30-day trial version of Portfolio available for download.

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