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Creative Ops

Why image tagging software is essential to a productive creative workflow

September 29, 2021 · 7 min read

Ever spent way too much time searching for a photo for a design project? You search every keyword you can think of, look through every folder, and you still can't find the image you're looking for.

If you had image tagging software, you'd no longer have this issue!

Image tagging software simplifies the process of finding image files so you can spend less time looking through a million jpegs and more time on your design work. Let's dive into what this software is, why it's important, and how you can use it to make work easier for your creative team.

What is image tagging software?

Image tagging software is a photo organizing software that automates the tagging process by adding tags to image files. Using AI-powered image recognition and facial recognition, the tool searches the image and automatically adds relevant tags based on what objects or people are in the image. Some software can add additional tags for things like colors or emotions, allowing you to include even more information so it’s easier to find the image you need later on.

While you can manually tag your pictures by labeling each jpg, gif, or png with keywords, image tagging software streamlines the process, making your workflow that much more efficient. With auto-tagging, your team doesn’t have to manually tag all the images, which is both time-consuming and prone to human error.

As an example, let's say you import images into your library, including this photo:

Dog wearing a pumpkin hat
Dog wearing a pumpkin hat


The image tagging software would then create tags for this photo based on what is in it. For this photo of a dog in an orange pumpkin hat, it might tag the keywords "dog," "hat," and "pumpkin." You could then manually modify those tags if you wanted.

When your next important design project comes up, and you've got to use the picture of the dog in the pumpkin hat, you just search the tags for "dog" or "pumpkin," and the image will pop up! 

Why is image tagging software important?

Image tagging software is an integral part of image management because it enables companies to quickly search and find images in their library. This helps your team save time, which is especially important for enterprise companies using images from an extensive photo library. It also benefits agencies that may be juggling several projects from different clients.

Without the right image tagging management software in place, your team would have to manually tag each image. So, not only would the image discovery process be painfully manual, but the image upload process would take extra time—or your team may be too busy and neglect to add tags, complicating the discovery process even more.

Depending on the size of your image library and the number of images you regularly import, image tagging software could potentially save you thousands of hours.

Moreover, the image tags used to categorize a photo become part of the metadata for that photo. When you upload these images to your website, the tags support your website’s SEO and make the process of finding a product or content asset easier for your website visitors. 

When they type in "dog hat" in the search bar of your site, they'll likely see the orange pumpkin dog hat you have for sale.

How to use image tagging software

The image tagging process will depend on the software you're using. The categorization may involve using broad tags like "slideshow slide." It can also involve hierarchical tags based on emotions, colors, and objects.

Returning to our example of the cute dog photo, you might also use the tags "orange" and "happy". These specific tags make it easy to find the exact digital photo you're looking for. Broader tags allow you to find the best image for a project, even if you don't have a specific photo in mind.

Searching for Food and Bowls in an Air workspace
Searching for Food and Bowls in an Air workspace


Here are some examples of when image tagging software might come in handy:

  • Social media: When you create social media assets and resize them for each channel, you can tag these images with "social media" to make it easier for you and your team to locate images when you need to post them.

  • Marketing campaigns: You can tag images with the campaign name. That way, when someone from your team is creating assets for that campaign, they can find all the photos that correspond in your image library. This naming system will also come in handy when it’s time to analyze your campaign performance.

  • E-commerce products: Tagging images for e-commerce products is also important. You might use broad tags like "jeans," "pants," and "winter" or more specific tags like "blue jeans" or "2021 collection." Not only will tags make it easier for you to find the images, but they will also enable site visitors to find what they're looking for on your website.

  • Editorial work: If you're doing editorial work where you need to identify who is in the photo and search for that person in your image library, tagging is definitely important. Many image tagging software tools use face recognition to help you auto-tag your images so you can easily find who you're looking for.

5 image tagging software tools that will save you time

When it comes to image tagging software tools, you've got quite a few to choose from. Many digital asset management (DAM) and photo editing software tools offer an auto-tagging feature to improve photo management.

Here are just a few of our favorite image tagging software tools:

1. Air

Air is built with creative teams in mind as it allows you to bring all your digital images in various image formats together in one place. It goes beyond cloud storage to give you all the features you need to create a centralized workspace for your team. 

With Smart Search, Air allows you to navigate your workspace like a search engine. With built-in features like image recognition and smart tags, you can effectively tag your photos in no time. Bookmark your favorite images, add non-visual digital assets, and preview files by hovering over them before you open.

With Air, you'll never have to waste time hunting for lost photos again!

Demonstrating Air's search capabilities
Demonstrating Air's search capabilities


2. Adobe Lightroom

From the makers of Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom is well known for its editing tools. It also happens to be one of the best cloud storage options for image tagging. This photo management software goes beyond just tagging as it allows you to resize, edit, organize, store, and share your images across devices.

Adobe Lightroom offers auto-tagging to make tagging your photos faster and easier. Their smart tagging system is built on Adobe Sensei, which leverages AI and machine learning to understand the image and provide relevant and descriptive tags. It's available for both Mac and Windows.

Image tagging software (Adobe)
Image tagging software (Adobe)


3. Google Photos

Google Photos is a free photo management software that's great for small businesses and beginners. With Google Photos, you can backup and access videos and photos from any device. Once you upload your photos into Google cloud storage, Google Photos goes to work automatically organizing all your images and making them searchable.

Google Photos automatically captures geolocation information for your images from digital cameras and smartphones so that you can search by location. You can also search by object to find image files. Google has an auto-tagging feature for faces, and you can even organize photo albums by the individual.

Image tagging software (Google)
Image tagging software (Google)


4. Exif Pilot

Exif Pilot is a free tool that allows you to view, edit, and create EXIF, EXIF GPS, IPTC, and XMP data. You can also use this tool to remove or add EXIF and IPTC tags and clean up your image metadata. You can add, edit, and remove keywords as well.

While Exif Pilot is a simple program, it gives you what you need to properly tag your images so they are easier to find later. Have all of your image metadata in a spreadsheet? You can import EXIF and IPTC data to/from XML files, MS Excel files, and Text files in CSV format. The paid upgrade also offers batch editing with a special plugin.

Image tagging software (Exif)
Image tagging software (Exif)


5. ACDSee Photo Studio

ACDSee Photo Studio is one of the best photo management software tools for extensive RAW files as it offers RAW support for more than 550 digital camera models. The tool allows you to organize your photos using face recognition and data location features. This makes it easier to search for images based on who is in the image and where it was taken.

ACDSee Photo Studio goes beyond image tagging features, giving you the tools you need for RAW editing, renaming and resizing images, and comprehensive digital asset management. The software is GPU-enriched, which means it processes your edited images faster than other software.


The right image tagging software for your team will depend on the functionality you need. No matter which tool you use, it will help you save time, streamline your workflow, and help avoid the frustration of lost images.

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