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.
When indexing, a JPEG or PNG sidecar file is automatically created for videos and images in other formats, such as RAW or vector graphics. 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.
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.
In case FFmpeg is disabled or not installed, videos cannot be indexed because still images cannot be created. You should also have Exiftool enabled to extract metadata such as duration, resolution, and codec.
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:
New sidecar files are saved in the storage folder by default, so the originals folder can be mounted read-only.
PHOTOPRISM_DISABLE_BACKUPS are set to
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:
If not disabled via
--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.
Unless disabled via
--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 (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.
Does your software depend on any external services?¶
Your use of these services is fully covered by us. Depending on your usage, this can save you much more than the cost of a PhotoPrism+ Membership, since other providers generally charge usage-based fees and often don't allow you to cache the data they provide, compromising performance and your privacy with unnecessary requests.
In order to successfully set up your installation and view location details in PhotoPrism, you must allow incoming requests as well as those to our Geocoding API and Docker if you have a firewall installed, and make sure that your Internet connection is working:
Other open source applications sometimes use the free map tile service operated by openstreetmap.org. In this case, their usage and privacy policies apply, which means that your request data is stored and used to create publicly available reports. This is different from our approach, which focuses on your privacy and user experience.
Why do I see connection errors when requesting API keys at startup?¶
Are the keys for using interactive world maps provided free of charge?¶
The API keys required to use the maps are unfortunately not free for us due to the number of users we have. Those costs are one of the reasons why we encourage all users to support our mission by signing up as a member or purchasing a commercial license.
To improve the situation for those who don't want to or cannot sign up, more details such as cities and lakes have been added to the freely available basic maps:
We are aware that advanced users could register "non-commercial test accounts" instead, but we think that would not be completely fair and MapTiler could then no longer offer them to those in need. Keep in mind that we have many more users than other open source projects that might encourage their users to do this. Likewise, using the OpenSteetMap development API is discouraged for consumer applications like ours, although some projects do it anyway.
How can I activate my membership?¶
To connect a new instance to your membership account, you will need to log in with the admin user that is automatically created during setup (see your
docker-compose.yml file or the app store documentation), and then follow the steps described in our activation guide.
What are the advantages of purchasing a commercial license?¶
A key difference between the public license and a commercial license agreement is that you get access to additional support and configuration options, as well as the right to customize functionality to your needs without having to publicly disclose your changes. Our Compliance FAQ gives answers to the most frequently asked questions about product compliance and scalability.
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 know there's a huge demand and many practical uses for a cloud-hosted app that is easy to set up. We like to give our users the choice and therefore offer a fully managed service as a deployment option. Selected hosting partners ensure that your privacy is protected as much as technically possible, even in the cloud.
Will JPEGs be updated when the related 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 sub folders 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
~/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
~ is a shortcut for your home directory:
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 sub folders of
/photoprism/originals, for example:
volumes: - "/home/username/Pictures:/photoprism/originals" - "/example/friends:/photoprism/originals/friends" - "/mnt/photos:/photoprism/originals/media"
Can I use FAT32 and ExFAT formatted drives?¶
Photos and videos can be mounted from FAT-formatted drives, such as an external SSD. Our tests have shown that PhotoPrism and MariaDB can also be started from there. However, at least on macOS, the logs may occasionally show directory access errors and you will be forced to restart if problems occur.
I can't find a download link to install your software on Windows?¶
PhotoPrism depends on a number of other open source tools and applications, such as Darktable, RawTherapee, and FFmpeg. While you can install them directly on Windows, it's a lot of work and we don't have the capacity to test the respective Windows versions before each release.
We therefore recommend to use Docker, so you can take advantage of our pre-built and QA-tested Docker image, which includes all the dependencies you need. It is a well-tested standard tool that also lets you run many other self-hosted apps without having to worry about the details or Windows-specific issues. To further simplify the setup for you, we offer a batch script that you can run in the directory where you want to install PhotoPrism:
curl.exe -o install.bat https://dl.photoprism.app/docker/windows/install.bat install.bat
This will automatically download all required config files and start the server for you. Before you run the script, make sure you have Docker Desktop installed on your Windows PC.
How can I install PhotoPrism without Docker?¶
We also provide tar.gz packages that allow you to install PhotoPrism on Linux without using Docker, for example by running the following commands:
sudo mkdir -p /opt/photoprism cd /opt/photoprism wget -c https://dl.photoprism.app/pkg/linux/amd64.tar.gz -O - | sudo tar -xz sudo ln -sf /opt/photoprism/bin/photoprism /usr/local/bin/photoprism photoprism --version
Since these packages need to be set up manually and do not include the system dependencies required to make use of all the features, we recommend that only advanced users choose this installation method.
For FreeBSD and TrueNAS CORE (formerly FreeNAS) users, an unofficial port is available that builds PhotoPrism from source. It will also compile and install the required TensorFlow libraries for you.
Building From Source¶
You can alternatively build and install PhotoPrism from the publicly available source code, which includes all the Community Edition features and most of the Essentials features (except additional user roles):
git clone https://github.com/photoprism/photoprism.git cd photoprism make all install DESTDIR=/opt/photoprism
When choosing this installation method, missing build and system dependencies must be installed manually, as shown in our human-readable and versioned Dockerfiles. Since you often don't need to use the exact same versions, you can replace most packages with those available in your environment.
Please be aware, though, that we do not have the resources to provide support and special dependencies, such as TensorFlow libraries, to private users who choose to build from source. If possible, we recommend using Docker Compose or the installation packages we provide, as they can save a lot of time creating and troubleshooting custom builds.
What are the benefits of using Docker?¶
(1) Docker uses standard features of the Linux kernel. Containers are nothing new; Solaris Zones were released about 20 years ago and 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 of this, based on standard functionality that is part of the kernel.
(2) Docker saves time through simplified deployment and testing. 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.
(3) Dockerfiles are part of the source code repository. Human-readable and versioned Dockerfiles that are part of our public source code help avoid "works for me" moments and other unwelcome surprises by enabling us to have the exact same environment everywhere in development, staging, and production.
(4) Running applications in containers is more secure. 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 with a dedicated operating system environment provides even more security, but usually has side effects such as lower performance and more difficult handling. Using a VM, however, doesn't prevent you from running containerized apps to get the best of both worlds. This is essentially what happens when you install Docker on virtual cloud servers and operating systems other than Linux.
Why does your Docker image use the Plus License instead of the AGPL?¶
Our Plus License is used for both the PhotoPrism+ extensions we provide to our members as well as the standard Docker image we distribute. This allows us to bundle the extensions, and other third-party components that we are not allowed to distribute under the AGPL, with the compiled application in the Docker image. The public source code, however, remains under the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL).
If you don't want additional features, you can alternatively use the "ce" tag instead of "latest" to get a smaller Docker image distributed under the AGPL license. Note that third-party components and digital assets included in this image are still subject to additional terms and conditions.
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 enhancements. As a result, the testing effort required before each release is no longer feasible.
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.
I've configured an external database, but can't connect?¶
Most often this happens when new users configure
127.0.0.1 as database server host, since these always point back to the current container or computer. So it is not possible to access an external service with such a hostname or an IP address starting with 127. It works only if it is used directly in the container or on the computer where the database server is running. Instead, you must use a hostname or IP address that is accessible from other machines and containers.
Why is my configured memory limit exceeded when indexing, even though PhotoPrism doesn't actually seem to use that much memory?¶
When indexing a media library, many files are opened and processed very quickly, which is not a typical workload compared to other containerized applications and services. Various libraries and external applications simultaneously interact with each other in complex ways, so single spikes are inevitable. Some memory is also used by the kernel for buffered I/O to improve performance, although the extent to which caching counts towards a limit may vary.
We therefore recommend not to set hard memory limits, unless you are familiar with memory management and understand the implications. Instead, you should reduce the number of indexing workers and limit file size and resolution if you are low on resources or want to limit memory usage for other reasons. Also make sure you have at least 4 GB of swap configured.
Why does PhotoPrism always consume 100% of CPU when the background worker is running?¶
Many users reporting poor performance and high CPU load have migrated from SQLite to MariaDB so that their database schema is not optimized for performance, for example, because indexes are missing or columns have the wrong data type. The instructions for these migrations were provided by a contributor and are not part of the original software distribution. As such, they have not been officially released, recommended, or extensively tested by us.
In some instances, users have manually changed the contents of the database. It is also possible that the database is in an inconsistent state for other reasons, e.g. due to bugs in previous versions that have been fixed in the meantime. However, we are not currently aware of any such cases.
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 enhancements 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, cache, and configuration files. It may also contain index database files if you are using SQLite. Most of the space there is taken up by your thumbnails: These are high-quality, scaled-down versions of your originals. Thumbnails are necessary because web browsers are bad at resizing large images to fit the screen. Using full-resolution originals for slideshows and in search results would also consume a lot of browser memory and significantly reduce indexing performance.
We are working to implement storage optimizations whenever there is an opportunity. It is also possible to increase the JPEG compression and/or limit the resolution if you are happy with lower quality thumbnails.
To free up as much space as possible, the most effective way is to delete all files in the
/cache/thumbnails storage folder. It is located outside the originals folder by default, depending on your configuration. Then perform a full rescan of your library or run the command
photoprism thumbs -f in a terminal if you have direct server access. This command can also be used to replace existing thumbnails, for example after changing the quality settings. Higher resolution thumbnails cannot be automatically removed at this time.
If you have a fast CPU and enough memory, you can choose to render certain thumbnails only on demand. However, storage is usually so cheap that most users opt for better quality and performance instead.
Actual storage requirements vary and depend, among other things, on file resolutions and formats (RAW, JPEG, video,...). For highly compressed, high-resolution videos in modern formats that cannot be displayed natively by browsers, the storage folder may even be larger than the originals, since videos transcoded to AVC are not as heavily compressed.
Can I skip creating thumbnails completely?¶
The smallest configurable size is 720px for use by the indexer to perform color detection, image classification, as well as face detection and recognition. Recreating them every time they are needed is too demanding even for the most powerful servers. Unless you have just a few small pictures, this would make the app unusable.
Reducing the Static Size Limit of thumbnails has a significant impact on face recognition and image classification results. Simply put, it means that the indexer can no longer see properly.
When should I perform a complete rescan?¶
We recommend performing a complete rescan after major updates to take advantage of new search filters and sorting options. Be sure to read the notes for each release to see what changes have been made and if they might affect your library, for example, because of the file types you have or because new search features have been added. If you encounter problems that you cannot solve otherwise (i.e. before reporting a bug), please also try a rescan and see if it solves the problem.
You can start a rescan from the user interface by navigating to Library > Index, selecting "Complete Rescan", and then clicking "Start". Manually entered information such as labels, people, titles or descriptions will not be modified when indexing, even if you perform a "complete rescan". Be careful not to start multiple indexing processes at the same time, as this will lead to a high server load.
How can I shorten the startup time after a restart or update?¶
To reduce startup time, do not set
PHOTOPRISM_INIT to avoid running additional setup scripts, and set
"true" to disable automatic permission updates.
If your instance doesn't start even after waiting for some time, our Troubleshooting Checklists help you quickly diagnose and solve the problem.
Why are files uploaded via WebDAV not indexed/imported immediately?¶
PHOTOPRISM_AUTO_IMPORT let you specify how long PhotoPrism should wait before indexing or importing newly uploaded files. The default setting is 300 seconds, or 5 minutes. This is a safety mechanism for users with slow uploads to avoid incomplete file sets, for example when uploading pictures with sidecar files. You can therefore reduce the delay if you have a fast connection and usually do not upload stacks of related files such as RAW images with sidecar JPEG and XMP files.
In some cases, it is also possible that the index is already being updated, so you will have to wait until the process is complete before indexing new files.
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?¶
Why is PhotoPrism getting stuck in a restart loop?¶
This happens when Docker was configured to automatically restart services after failures.
Can I install PhotoPrism in a sub-directory on a shared domain?¶
Setting up PhotoPrism behind a reverse proxy in a sub-directory on a shared domain is possible in principle. This method is experimental, however, and not generally recommended because a number of detailed issues remain to be addressed and technical expertise is required.
I could not find a documentation of config parameters?¶
docker compose exec photoprism photoprism help
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, for example import, upload, and delete. Set
docker-compose.yml for this. You can mount a folder with the
:ro flag to make Docker block
write operations as well.
In which cases could files in the originals folder get modified?¶
PhotoPrism generally does not write to the originals folder, with the following exceptions: (1) You rotate an image in the user interface, so its Exif header must be updated. (2) You unstack files that were stacked based on their name, so they must be renamed. (3) You add files using the import functionality or the web upload. (4) You manually delete files in the user interface. (5) You have configured the originals folder as your sidecar folder. (6) You access the originals folder with a WebDAV client to manage your files without having read-only mode enabled.
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?¶
Shared folders that have already been mounted on your host under a drive letter or path can be used with Docker containers like any other directory. In addition, certain types of network storage like NFS (Unix/Linux) and CIFS (Windows/Mac) can also be mounted directly with Docker Compose.
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.
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?¶
Please take the time to read this documentation and determine the cause of your problem before opening invalid bug reports, starting a public "shitstorm" or insulting other community members in our chat rooms. Aside from being annoying for everyone, it also keeps our team from working on features and enhancements that users like you are waiting for. Visit photoprism.app/code-of-conduct to learn more.
Our Community Edition is designed primarily for small servers and home users. Professional users are welcome to contact us for a commercial solution.