Skip to content

Frequently Asked Questions

What media file types are supported?

PhotoPrism supports indexing, viewing, and converting most popular image, video and RAW formats, including JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP, HEIF, HEIC, MP4, MOV, WebP, and WebM. TIFF is partially supported without extensions such as GeoTIFF.

The internally used image format is JPEG. When indexing, a JPEG sidecar file can be created automatically for videos and images in other formats. It is needed for thumbnail generation, image classification, and face detection. JPEG XL support is planned as soon as it is generally available and enough compatible tools exist.

If installed, converting RAW files is possible with the following converters (our Docker image includes both):

On a Mac, RAW files can also be converted with Sips (supported cameras). Our goal is to provide top-notch support for all RAW formats, regardless of camera make and model. Please let us know about any issues with a particular camera or file format.

For maximum browser compatibility, video codecs and containers supported by FFmpeg can be transcoded to MPEG-4 AVC on demand, just as still images can be extracted for thumbnail creation.

Make sure you have JSON sidecar files enabled if you have videos, live photos, and/or animated GIFs so that video-specific metadata such as codec, frames, and duration can be extracted, indexed, and searched.

For a complete list of file formats and extensions, see our downloadable Feature Overview.

What are sidecar files and where do I find them?

A sidecar is a file that sits next to your main photo or video files and usually has the same name but a different extension:

  • IMG_0123.mov
  • IMG_0123.mov.jpg
  • IMG_0123.json

New sidecar files are created in the storage folder by default, so the originals folder can be mounted read-only.

Even if PHOTOPRISM_DISABLE_EXIFTOOL and PHOTOPRISM_DISABLE_BACKUPS are set to true, the indexer looks for existing sidecar files and uses them.

What metadata sidecar file types are supported?

Currently, three types of file formats are supported:

JSON

If not disabled via PHOTOPRISM_DISABLE_EXIFTOOL or --disable-exiftool, Exiftool is used to automatically create a JSON sidecar for each media file. In this way, embedded XMP and video metadata can also be indexed. Native metadata extraction is limited to common Exif headers. Note that this causes small amount of overhead when indexing for the first time.

JSON files can also be useful for debugging, as they contain the full metadata and can be processed with common development tools and text editors.

JSON files exported from Google Photos can be read as well. Support for more schemas may be added over time.

YAML

Unless disabled via PHOTOPRISM_DISABLE_BACKUPS or --disable-backups, PhotoPrism automatically creates/updates human-friendly YAML sidecar files during indexing and after manual editing of fields such as title, date, or location. They serve as a backup in case the database (index) is lost, or when folders are synchronized with a remote instance.

Like JSON, YAML files can be opened with common development tools and text editors. However, changes are not synchronized with the original index, as this could overwrite existing data.

XMP

XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform) is an XML-based metadata container format developed by Adobe. It provides many more fields (as part of embedded models like Dublin Core) than Exif. This also makes it difficult - if not impossible - to provide full support. Reading title, copyright, artist, and description from XMP sidecar files is implemented as a proof-of-concept, contributions are welcome. Indexing of embedded XMP is only possible via Exiftool, see above.

Are JPEGs updated when RAW or XMP files change?

JPEGs are currently not regenerated when related RAW or XMP files change. RAW files are digital negatives by design. PhotoPrism therefore assumes that their image information is immutable.

XMP files can affect the appearance, but most of the metadata they contain, such as title and description, does not. Creating JPEGs from RAW files is a time-consuming task, and in most cases would cause a huge, unjustified amount of overhead. In addition, the rendering information in XMP files is not well standardized. For example, changes you make in Photoshop may not be compatible with Darktable.

We recommend manually updating existing JPEG sidecar files as needed or creating additional JPEGs, so you can choose between different versions. New files and other metadata changes are detected and reflected in the index as usual when your library is scanned.

Which folder will be indexed?

This depends on your environment and configuration. While subfolders can be selected for indexing in the UI, changing the originals base folder requires a restart for security reasons.

If you skip configuration and don't use one of our Docker images, PhotoPrism will attempt to find a photo library by searching a list of common folder names such as /photoprism/originals and ~/Pictures. It also searches for other resources such as external applications, classification models, and frontend assets.

If you use our Docker Compose example without modifications, pictures will be mounted from ~/Pictures where ~ is a shortcut for your home directory:

  • \user\username on Windows
  • /Users/username on macOS
  • and /root or /home/username on Linux

Since the app is running inside a container, you have to explicitly mount the host folders you want to use. PhotoPrism won't be able to see folders that have not been mounted. Multiple folders can be made accessible by mounting them as subfolders of /photoprism/originals, for example:

volumes:
  - "/home/username/Pictures:/photoprism/originals"
  - "/example/friends:/photoprism/originals/friends"
  - "/mnt/photos:/photoprism/originals/media"

How can I install PhotoPrism without Docker?

Building From Source

You can build and install PhotoPrism from the publicly available source code:

git clone https://github.com/photoprism/photoprism.git
cd photoprism
make all install DESTDIR=/opt/photoprism

Missing build dependencies must be installed manually as shown in our human-readable and versioned Dockerfile. You often don't need to use the exact same versions, so it's possible to replace packages with what is available in your environment.

Please note that we do not have the resources to provide private users with dependencies and TensorFlow libraries for their personal environments. We recommend giving Docker a try if you use Linux as it saves developers a lot of time when building, testing, and deploying complex applications like PhotoPrism. It also effectively helps avoid "works for me" moments and missing dependencies, see next question.

Installation Packages

An unofficial port is available for FreeBSD / FreeNAS users. Developers are invited to contribute by building and testing standalone packages for Linux distributions and other operating systems.

Updates are released several times a month, so maintaining the long list of dependencies for additional environments would currently consume too many of our resources.

LXC Images

There is no official LXC image available yet, see related GitHub issue for details.

Why are you using Docker?

Containers are nothing new; Solaris Zones have been around for about 15 years, first released publicly in 2004. The chroot system call was introduced during development of Version 7 Unix in 1979. It is used ever since for hosting applications exposed to the public Internet.

Modern Linux containers are an incremental improvement. A main advantage of Docker is that application images can be easily made available to users via Internet. It provides a common standard across most operating systems and devices, which saves our team a lot of time that we can then spend more effectively, for example, providing support and developing one of the many features that users are waiting for.

Human-readable and versioned Dockerfiles as part of our public source code also help avoid "works for me" moments and other unwelcome surprises by enabling teams to have the exact same environment everywhere in development, staging, and production.

Last but not least, virtually all file format parsers have vulnerabilities that just haven't been discovered yet. This is a known risk that can affect you even if your computer is not directly connected to the Internet. Running apps in a container with limited host access is an easy way to improve security without compromising performance and usability.

A virtual machine running its own operating system provides more security, but typically has side effects such as lower performance and more difficult handling. You can also run Docker in a VM to get the best of both worlds. It's essentially what happens when you run dockerized applications on virtual cloud servers and operating systems other than Linux.

Will the self-hosted version continue to be supported?

Absolutely! We are on a mission to protect your freedom and privacy. Self-hosting is the easiest way to stay in control and protect your privacy. It also provides the best experience for advanced users who often rely on a local toolchain to select, edit, and publish their pictures.

At the same time, we understand that there is a great demand and many practical uses for a hosted version. It is thus offered in addition so our users have more choice. Selected hosting partners ensure that the privacy of our users is protected as much as technically possible, even in the cloud.

Likewise, businesses demand a commercial offering with features and support options geared towards professional users. They are willing to pay for the value they receive, which helps fund development and allows us to expand our team.

Should I use SQLite, MariaDB, or MySQL?

PhotoPrism is compatible with SQLite 3 and MariaDB 10.5.12+. Official support for MySQL 8 is discontinued as Oracle seems to have stopped shipping new features and improvements. As a result, the testing effort required before each release is no longer feasible.

If you have few pictures, concurrent users, and CPU cores, SQLite may seem faster compared to full-featured database servers like MariaDB.

This changes as the index grows and the number of concurrent accesses increases. The way MariaDB and MySQL handle multiple queries is completely different and optimized for high concurrency. SQLite, for example, locks the index on updates so that other operations have to wait. In the worst case, this can lead to timeout errors. Its main advantage is that you don't need to run a separate database server. This can be very useful for testing and also works great if you only have a few thousand files to index.

MariaDB lacks some features that MySQL Enterprise Edition offers. On the other hand, MariaDB has many optimizations. It is also completely open-source.

Can you improve performance when using older or otherwise slow hardware?

It is a known issue that the user interface and backend operations, especially face recognition, can be slow or even crash on older hardware due to a lack of resources. Like most applications, PhotoPrism has certain requirements and our development process does not include testing on unsupported or unusual hardware.

In many cases, performance can be improved through optimizations. Since these can prove to be very time-consuming and cost-intensive in practice, users and developers must decide on a case-by-case basis whether this provides sufficient benefit in relation to the costs or whether the use of more powerful hardware is faster and cheaper overall.

We kindly ask you not to open a problem report on GitHub Issues for poor performance on older hardware until a full cause and feasibility analysis has been performed. GitHub Discussions or any of our other public forums and communities are great places to start a discussion.

That being said, one of the advantages of open source software is that users can submit pull requests with performance and other improvements they would like to see implemented. This will result in a much faster solution than waiting for a core team member to remotely analyze your problem and then provide a fix.

Is a Raspberry Pi fast enough?

This largely depends on your expectations and the number of files you have. Most users report that PhotoPrism runs smoothly on their Raspberry Pi 4. However, initial indexing typically takes much longer than on standard desktop computers.

Also keep in mind that the hardware has limited video transcoding capabilities, so the conversion of video file formats is not well-supported and software transcoding is generally slow.

Should I use an SD card or a USB stick?

Conventional USB sticks and SD cards are not suitable for long-term storage. Not only because of the performance, but also because they can lose data over time. Local Solid-State Drives (SSDs) are best, even when connected externally via USB 3. USB 1 and 2 devices will be slow either way.

Why don't you display animated GIFs natively?

Support for animated GIFs was added in April 2022.

Why is my storage folder so large? What is in it?

The storage folder contains sidecar, thumbnail, and configuration files. It may also contain index database files if you're using SQLite. Most space is consumed by thumbnails: These are high-quality resampled, smaller versions of your originals.

Thumbnails are required because Web browsers do a pretty bad job at resampling large images so that they fit your screen. Using originals for slideshows and search result previews would consume much more browser memory, and reduce overall performance, as well.

If you're happy with lower quality thumbnails, you can reduce their JPEG quality and/or set a size limit. Note that existing thumbnail files won't be replaced automatically after changing config values.

You may also choose to render thumbnails on-demand if you have a fast CPU and enough memory. However, storage is typically affordable enough for most users to go for better quality and performance instead.

Can I skip creating thumbnails completely?

The smallest configurable size is 720px for consumption by the indexer to perform color detection, face detection, and image classification. Recreating them every time they are needed is too demanding for even the most powerful servers. Unless you only have a few small images, it would render the app unusable.

Reducing the Static Size Limit of thumbnails has a significant impact on facial recognition and image classification results. Simply put, it means that the indexer can no longer see properly.

I'm having issues understanding the difference between the import and originals folders?

You may optionally mount an import folder from which files can be transferred to the originals folder in a structured way that avoids duplicates. Imported files receive a canonical filename and will be organized by year and month.

Most users with existing photo libraries will want to index their originals folder directly without importing files, leaving the existing file and folder names unchanged. On the other hand importing is an efficient way to add files, since PhotoPrism doesn't have to search your originals folder to find new files.

Can I use PhotoPrism to sort files into a configurable folder structure?

You have complete freedom in how you organize your originals. If you don't like the unique names and folders used by the import function, you can resort to external batch renaming tools, for example ExifTool, PhockUp, or Photo Organizer.

Configurable import folders may be available in a later version. This is because - depending on the specific pattern - appropriate conflict resolution is required and the patterns must be well understood and validated to avoid typos or other misconfigurations that lead to undesired results for which we do not want to be responsible.

Why is only the logo displayed when I open the app?

This may happen when the server cannot be reached, for example, because a proxy is misconfigured, JavaScript is disabled in your browser, an ad blocker is blocking requests, or you are using an incompatible browser.

We recommend going through the checklist provided and to verify that your browser meets the system requirements.

Why is PhotoPrism getting stuck in a restart loop?

This happens when Docker was configured to automatically restart services after failures.

We recommend going through the checklist for fatal server errors and to verify that your computer meets the system requirements.

Can I install PhotoPrism in a sub-directory on a shared domain?

This is possible with our latest release if you run it behind a proxy. Note that for a Progressive Web App (PWA) to work as designed, the service worker should be located in the root directory. Also keep in mind sharing a domain with other apps may negatively impact the performance and security of all apps installed. The length of share links increases as well.

I could not find a documentation of config parameters?

We maintain a complete list of config options in Getting Started. When you run photoprism help in a terminal, all commands and parameters available in your currently installed version are listed:

docker-compose exec photoprism photoprism help

Our Docker Compose examples are continuously updated and inline documentation has been added to simplify installation.

What exactly does the read-only mode?

When you enable read-only mode, all features that require write permission to the originals folder are disabled, in particular import, upload, and delete. Set PHOTOPRISM_READONLY to "true" in docker-compose.yml for this. You can mount a folder with the :ro flag to make Docker block write operations as well.

How can I uninstall PhotoPrism?

This depends on how you installed it. If you're running PhotoPrism with Docker Compose, this command will stop and remove the Docker container:

docker-compose rm -s -v

Please refer to the official Docker documentation for further details.

How can I mount network shares with Docker?

You can mount remote folders that you can access on your host if they have already been mounted there, using your operating system's standard tools and methods. This requires no changes compared to specifying any other path or drive on your host.

Alternatively, you can mount network storage using Docker Compose. Follow this docker-compose.yml example for NFS (Linux, Unix) shares:

services:
  photoprism:
    # ...
    volumes:
      # Map originals folder to NFS:
      - "photoprism-originals:/photoprism/originals"     

volumes:
  photoprism-originals:
    driver: local
    driver_opts:
      type: nfs
      # The IP of your NAS:
      o: "username=user,password=secret,addr=1.2.3.4,soft,rw"
      # Share path on your NAS:
      device: ":/mnt/photos" 

For mounting CIFS (Windows, Samba, SMB) network shares:

volumes:
  photoprism-originals:
    driver: local
    driver_opts:
      type: cifs
      o: "username=user,password=secret,rw"
      device: "//host/folder"

Mounting the import folder from a network drive that can also be accessed via other ways (e.g. CIFS) is handy because you can dump all data from an SD card/camera directly to this folder and then start the import process under Library > Import. PhotoPrism also has WebDAV support for remote file management and uploading, for example, through PhotoSync.

Why does changing permissions using chmod does not work for my network shares?

This is a common phenomenon with NFS shares. For security reasons, permissions must be changed on the server to take effect; unless the server allows them to be changed remotely, which depends on the settings. Even then, the actual permissions on the server and those effective on the clients may be different in the worst case.

Do you support Podman?

Podman works just fine both in rootless and under root. Mind the SELinux which is enabled on Red Hat compatible systems, you may hit permission error problems.

More details on how to run PhotoPrism with Podman on CentOS in this blog post, it includes all the details including root and rootless modes, user mapping and SELinux.

Any plans to add support for Active Directory, LDAP or other centralized account management options?

There is no single sign-on support yet as we didn't consider it essential for our initial release. Our team is currently working on OpenID Connect, which will be available in a future release.

Your app is really terrible, can I tell you how bad it is?

If you are having a bad day and want to offend someone, please go somewhere else.

Professional Users

Our Community Edition is designed primarily for small servers and home users. Professional users are welcome to contact us for a commercial solution.

Back to top