Review: Geotagging software comparison for the Mac

Here’s a review of geotagging tools available as of today (July ’08). I tested all of them personally and tried to come up with a pro & con list on each of them. If you know a geotagging Mac application that’s not included on this list, please drop a comment.

Ovolab GeoPhoto

GeoPhoto is an all-in-one solution for your geotagging workflow and probably the most feature rich geotagging application today for the Mac. The registration fee is US$ 24.95. A trial version of GeoPhoto can be downloaded here.

Pros:

  • Automatically geotags your photos using a GPS track log.
  • Uses Google Earth (globe, 2D maps, satellite maps and terrain views) fully integrated into the application using the Google Earth API
  • Handles all sorts of photo formats including RAW camera files like Nikon NEF, Adobe DNG, Hasselblad 3FR, Pentax PEF and many more. See here for a more complete list.
  • Imports existing photos from Aperture 2 and iPhoto projects by referencing the files, not duplicating them
  • Stores precise altitude information based on satellite data in case it’s not accurate or missing
  • Reads many GPS logger formats including .NMEA, Google Earth & Maps (.KML, .XML), GPX. See here for a more complete list.
  • Import GPS data from some loggers directly using Bluetooth or USB. Devices include NaviGPS GT11/BGT-11, GlobalSat DG-100/BT-335, MKT-based loggers, Magellan, Wintec 100/200. See here for a more complete list.
  • Is able to batch-update lots of photos
  • Offers time zone, time/date correction
  • Exports your photos to a Flickr or Photocast gallery on the fly
  • Has its own support forum

Cons:

  • No hi-rez imagery available for the Google Earth globe window. May be a limitation of Google Earth API though? High-resolution details are available in the Google Map window.
  • While thumbnails are displayed correctly, my NEF files looked very ugly in the preview windows. It seems that GeoPhoto just zooms into the thumbnail.

If you’re interested in GeoPhoto don’t miss my post about the geotagging workflow using Aperture 2 and camera RAW files.

iCraig GeoTagger

GeoTagger let’s you manually geotag JPEG photos using Google Earth (which has to be installed separately). It is freeware and can be downloaded here.

Pros:

  • Freeware
  • Uses Google Earth to mark a location

Cons:

  • Supports JPEG only
  • Doesn’t support track log import. Geotagging has to be dony by hand for every photo.

If you’re using iPhoto don’t miss iCraig’s cool iPhoto plugin iPhotoToGoogleEarth that let’s you export geotagged photos from iPhoto for viewing in Google Earth.

GPSPhotoLinker

GPSPhotoLinker is free to use but it’s donationware. Please don’t forget to donate if you use it on a regular basis. It can be downloaded here.

Pros:

  • Donationware
  • Automatically geotags your photos using a GPS track log
  • Supports various image formats, including JPEG, TIFF, Nikon NEF, Adobe DNG and some other camera RAW formats as well.
  • Offers time zone and date/time correction
  • Is able to batch-update lots of photos
  • Offers linking options depending on time or distance between a GPS track point (nice!)
  • Shows preceding, next and time weighted average track points (cool!)
  • Writes location information (city, state, country) into IPTC/XMP header
  • Shows selected track points in Google Maps
  • Clearly laid out user interface
  • Easy and straightforward to use

Cons:

  • Only supports GPX track log format. You may want to have a look at GPSBabel to convert your track log to GPX if your GPS logger doesn’t support GPX.
  • A bit slow while loading larger images for preview.

JetPhoto Studio

The basic version seems to be free but you will have to buy the Pro version to get access to some features. Some features will deactivate themselves in the basic version after you use them like 15 times or so. The Pro version costs US$ 25. Download JetPhoto Studio here.

Pros:

  • Automatically geotags your photos using a GPS track log
  • Supports iPhoto library
  • Exports your images to Flickr
  • Is able to create web galleries, including Flash
  • Supports various track log formats, including NMEA and GPX

Cons:

  • Only supports JPEG
  • Not that intuitive. I didn’t get warm with the user interface.
  • Doesn’t support Aperture projects

HoudahGeo

HoudahGeo claims to be the only one-stop solution for the Mac. It’s the most expensive of all my reviewed applications and has a price tag of € 25 which is about US$ 40. Download it here.

Pros:

  • Automatically geotags your photos using a track log
  • Supports iPhoto, Aperture 2 and Lightroom projects
  • Supports various track logs formats, including NMEA and GPX
  • Supports track log download from GPS loggers directly using USB or Bluetooth. Supported devices include Wintec WBT-100, WBT-200 and WBT-201, Magellan, Garmin,
  • Supports various image formats, including TIFF, JPEG and camera RAW formats like NEF
  • Exports your images to Flickr
  • Exports your track log to Google Earth format and includes images
  • Offers time zone and date/time correction

Cons:

  • More expensive than the competition

PhotoGPSEditor

PhotoGPSEditor is free to use but it’s donationware. Please don’t forget to donate if you use it on a regular basis. You can download it here.

Pros:

  • Donationware
  • Automatically geotags your photos using a track log
  • Integrated Google Maps view
  • Supports various image formats, including some RAW formats like .NEF
  • Is able to batch-update lots of photos
  • Supports time offset correction
  • Clearly laid out user interface
  • Easy and straightforward to use

Cons:

  • Supports only GPX track log format. They claim to support NMEA but I can’t select a track log with the extension .nmea.
  • Current version crashes if I try to import an (admittedly large) TIFF file

Conclusion

My favourite GPS geotagging applications on the Mac are Ovolab’s GeoPhoto and GPSPhotoLinker.

There’s no way around GeoPhoto if your intention is to have both, the most flexible and easiest-as-possible geotagging workflow on the Mac. While most other tools offer some form of geotagging, none of them match the vast list of supported image and track log formats of GeoPhoto. I also really like the way it shows my photo’s thumbnails on the integrated Google Earth globe. Even though I’m a fan of GeoPhoto, it still lacks some of the cool features from the mother-of-all-geotagging tools: GeoSetter. Unfortunately, GeoSetter is only available on Windows.

Considering it’s a non-commercial product, GPSPhotoLinker is an awesome geotgagging tool and if you can do without Aperture 2 and iPhoto project support, it certainly is capable of supporting your geotagging workflow very well. I particularly like the average waypoint weighting function in GPSPhotoLinker.

24 thoughts on “Review: Geotagging software comparison for the Mac

  1. Thanks for a really nice survey!

    Currently I’m using gpsbabel and gpsphotolinker respectively to pull data from my globalsat dg-100 and batch geotag my raw CR2s. However, and as you also mentioned, gpsphotolinker can be a bit unstable sometimes and it’s slow every time. This is still a two step process, though.

    Sometimes I need to manually tagging the odd batch. I do it with google earth and geotagger, but it’s a bit of a boring process.

    I’ll have a closer look at geophoto. I dismissed it because I figured it was specifically geared towards iphoto/apperture users (which I’m not). Hopefully I can reduce my toolset to two tools, of geophoto is good enough for what I need.

    Thanks again for this informative survey!

    Cheers,
    Pedro.

  2. Pingback: 2ni’s Blog » Blog Archive » Geotagging photos
  3. None of these apps can edit GPX tracks visually (the way that MapConverter does wonderfully … under Windows). I’m also looking for this kind of app…

    Silviu

  4. I see you’ve already added info on iPhoto ’09 face recognition: I’d love to see more info from you re: that new app’s location function.

    For example: I can use an iPhone App to generate a gpx data file, but once it’d downloaded to my computer i can’t figure out how to link that data to photos in iPhoto.

  5. PhotoGPSEditor provides a way to manually type in the coordinates (even if only in decimal degrees format).

    Do any of these others allow for that?

  6. Also of related interest is CDFinder http://www.cdfinder.de , which supports cataloging geotags in photos, and offers a GeoFinder, which show you photos taken near a place. And while that doesn’t look as nice as iPhoto 09 does now, it handles really large amounts of photos rather nicely (iPhoto gets sluggish with more than 10,000 photos, at least on my MacPro…).

  7. You might be interested in Tagalog, which is designed to let you quickly and visually tag photos from a camera or in a folder using GPX tracklogs, then import them into iPhoto ’09: http://calftrail.com/tagalog

    Tagalog has a big brother Mercatalog, which has a bit more ability to navigate and geotag photos in its library, and also will export to a Google Earth .kmz archive for sharing: http://calftrail.com/mercatalog

    (Disclaimer: I co-founded Calf Trail Software, and was the main programmer on our Mercatalog and Tagalog apps! I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have. :-)

  8. HoudahGeo has meanwhile been updated to version 2.1. New features include:

    Enhanced time zone support
    - Extended GPS device support
    - Access to Aperture masters
    - Access to iPhoto originals
    - Lightroom 2 integration
    - Waypoint geocoding
    - Improved reverse geocoding
    - Map inspector panel
    - Track log inspector panel
    - Flickr sets support
    - locr.com upload support
    - CSV export
    - …

  9. @Pierre Bernard

    Is there ever going to be a fix where HoudahGeo can write back to an Aperture / iPhoto origionls without having to read them into Geo, tag them export them, delete the origionals from Aperture / iPhoto which is a pain, and then reimport. Alternatively code them before you import?

    Also would it be possible to edit the track and location information by a drag and drop process as when you overlay the google map there is often an error caused by the accuracy of the Navigation device used to genereate the GPX file.

  10. thanks for review

    personally I prefer JetPhoto.

    The Geotagging is simple and effective, but is only a tiny part of the tool as it is full featured gallery/album software.

    thanks for pointing it out to me

  11. Hi,

    have you had a chance to look at the Aperture plug-in Maperture from Übermind?

    The basic version seems free and it looks like it could cut down the Aperture geotagging workflow with something like the Holux device quite considerably. I am waiting on my Holux m-241 to get here (purchased based on your recommendation), so I couldn’t try Maperture yet…

    Thank you for your site and the great tips and tutorials: Great job!

  12. After some further investigation: it is the $39.95 product
    “Maperture Pro” that actually imports track files and applies the data within Aperture 2.

  13. Hi Christian, I tried the Pro version it but last time I checked it wasn’t compatible with Safari 4 beta.

    Cheers
    Jan

  14. Hi Christian

    Thank you very much for this great overview, really helpful

    I just switched from Windows to Mac, something I should have done years ago, I admit. You are right about Geosetter. It doesn’t get better than that !

    Frank

  15. Hi All, and thanks for a great review.
    I am new to this geotagging and have found 2 programs that I deem worthy for your consideration: firstly the Apple App Stores “myTracks 2.2″ by Dirk Stichling and second “Photolinker 2.2″ by Early Innovations. Both are paid programs, but “myTracks 2.2″ is cheaper @ approx. $13 than “Photolinker 2.2″ which costs $49.95. You can download the “Photolinker 2.2″ for free but than you should consider a donation if you use it regularly.
    I feel I would rather pay a reasonable amount of money for a decent program with good features and regular updates, than have a free version that has glitches and crashes or something… We should all value the time that the developer has to donate to give us a GOOD program and as we all know …nothing good comes for free nowdays!!

    If anyone of you has the patience to look at these programs in detail and evaluate which is better (as from reading the comments i feel you are all much smarter in this field than I am.) I would very much appreciate the feedback as I would like to purchase the winner!
    My criteria are …simplicity of use, intuitiveness, and above all stability!
    After all…we love our Macs, so lets give them a program they can live with without stress :-))
    Tom

  16. Hi there!
    I just published a geotagging application for Linux, OS X and Windows:
    http://www.mardy.it/mappero-geotagger

    The application can be bought from my website, and then freely re-distributed (it’s open source, and licensed under the GPL licence). I’m currently running a promotion (mainly to advertise the application), where I give it to a discounted price to those who mention in in twitter or Google+, and completely for free to those who blog about it (detailed information is in the application’s website).

    I wonder if this might be of interest to you — maybe you can help me spread the news?

    Anyways, keep up the good work!

    Ciao,
    Alberto

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