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Frequently Asked Questions

General

When exactly will new features be released?

Our Project Roadmap shows what tasks are in progress and what features will be implemented next. You may give ideas you like a thumbs-up, so we know what's most popular.

Be aware that we have a zero-bug policy and do our best to help users when they need support or have other questions. This comes at a price though, as we can't give exact release dates for new features. Our team receives many more requests than can be implemented, so we want to emphasize that we are in no way obligated to implement the features, improvements, or other changes you request. We do, however, appreciate your feedback and carefully consider all requests.

Since sustained funding is key to quickly releasing new features, we encourage all users to support our mission by signing up as a sponsor or purchasing a commercial license.

Which benefits do sponsors receive?

Our sponsors additionally enjoy all features with a sponsor-feature label attached or marked as sponsors only in the docs, including Interactive World Maps. Visit photoprism.app/membership to learn more.

Shouldn't free software be free of costs?

Think of “free software” as in “free speech,” not as in “free beer.” The Free Software Foundation sometimes calls it “libre software,” borrowing the French or Spanish word for “free” as in freedom, to show they do not mean the software is gratis.

Why can't I just purchase and download a single version?

Unlike traditional offline apps such as Microsoft Office or single-player games, software exposed to the Internet must be updated regularly to stay secure and compatible with the latest standards.

It's essential to keep your operating system, Web browsers, and all other software up to date. Don't push your luck. Historically, even large tech companies have not supported their old products for an extended period of time, with only a few exceptions. Windows XP, for example, sold 400 million copies, which is why Micorosoft was able to offer updates for such a long time.

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.

What are the advantages of purchasing a commercial license?

A key difference between the open source and commercial license 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. We also work to optimize the standard configuration, feature set, and scalability of the Pro Edition to meet the requirements of professional users and organizations.

User Interface

Can I select multiple photos at once?

Yes, you can select multiple photos at once

Can I use trees for organizing my pictures and albums?

Except in Library > Originals and for object classification in Labels, PhotoPrism does not support hierarchically organized content for a number of reasons:

First, there are many tools (including Windows Explorer and Mac OS Finder) that already browse folders in such a way.

A common UX challenge is dealing with namespaces. For example, the album "Berlin" may exist 5 times in different parts of a tree. To avoid ambiguities, simple input fields need to be replaced with a tree browser that shows the complete context. This is especially difficult on mobile screens.

Personal albums can typically be browsed by time, with optional filters for more specific results. This is different in Enterprise asset management, where trees are required to manage responsibilities & permissions. We might do a special release for professional users later.

While you have complete freedom with organizing your original files and folders, we don't think trees should be an integral part of our user interface. Most users won't be able to sort their memories in a strictly hierarchical way and prefer to explore them in multiple dimensions instead.

What's the difference between keywords and labels?

Keywords contain a list of search terms extracted from metadata, file names, and other sources like geodata. Pictures with matching keywords automatically show up in related Labels.

Although related, keywords and labels serve different purposes:

  • Labels may have parent categories and are primarily used for classification, like "animal", "cat", or "boat". Duplicates and ambiguities should be avoided.

  • Keywords are primarily used for searching. They may include similar terms and translations, like "kitten", "kitty", and "cat".

Can I use the web interface to permanently delete files?

Yes, you can permanently delete files.

Why can't I play live photos or find stacks when I search for specific images?

Our search API and user interface perform a file search. This is intentional since "stacks" can contain files of different types and properties, such as color.

For example, there may be color and monochrome versions. Now, when you search for them or sort them by color, the user interface must display individual files. Otherwise, the results showing a color image/video when you filter by monochrome would make no sense.

Likewise, if you search for filename.mp4.*, you will find only JPEGs without video, because the video file extension is .mp4 without an extra dot at the end.

We recommend using the path: and/or name: filters with wildcards if searching for individual files limits the search results too much. Most users will want to find all related files so that they can be displayed together, e.g. as live photos consisting of a video and an image.

You can combine these filters with other filters such as live to ensure that the results include only pictures with a specific media type. Alternatively, you can use the filename: filter with a more permissive wildcard that excludes the file extension.

Library, Counts & Files

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 like 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 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.

Metadata 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.

Some files seem hidden, where are they?

If the quality filter is enabled, you might find them in Photos > Review. Otherwise, their format may not be supported, they may be corrupted, or they may be stacked with other files if their name, exact date & location, or unique image ID indicate they belong to the same photo. You may then unstack them if this happened by mistake e.g. because of bad metadata.

For what reasons can files be stacked?
  1. Files sharing exactly the same file and folder name will always be stacked, for example /2018/IMG_1234.jpg and /2018/IMG_1234.avi
  2. Files with related, sequential names like /2018/IMG_1234 (2).jpg and /2018/IMG_1234 (3).jpg may be stacked as well (optional)
  3. Pictures were taken at the same GPS position and second (optional)
  4. Image metadata contains the same Unique Image ID or XMP Instance ID (optional)

You can change the behaviour for 2 - 4 in Settings.

I already indexed some files. Why are Folders, Calendar and Moments still empty?

Folders, Calendar and Moments are populated at the end of the indexing process.

Why does the count in Search not match the count of files in Originals?

Library > Originals shows actual files, whereas Search counts unique photos and videos.

Photos and videos may have more than one file, for example:

  • A raw file + related jpg file + related xmp file = 3 files, 1 photo
  • A mp4 file + related jpg file = 2 files, 1 video

It is also possible that multiple .jpg files are stacked because they are related to each other.

Metadata

Why do some of my photos without geolocation information show a random location?

PhotoPrism estimates the location of photos without geolocation from photos that have been taken on the same day. You can disable estimations in Settings.

Why do some pictures have an odd date like 01/01/1980?

This may happen in case there was an issue with your camera's settings when the photo was taken. While the date can easily be changed in the edit dialog, this only updates the index without modifying your originals.

To fix the date directly in your image or video files, please use other applications like Photoshop, or Exiftool, and re-index your library.

Thumbnails

Isn't it insecure that thumbnail image URLs work even if you are not logged in?

Like most commercial image hosting services, we've chosen to use a cookie-free thumbnail API to minimize request latency and avoid unnecessary network traffic. If you were to copy private session cookies and use them in a different browser window, you would have a similar problem, except that they also work for other API endpoints, not just a single image.

Even if URLs were to become invalid every minute: Digital copies are as good as originals. Once shared and downloaded, such images should be considered "leaked" because they are cached and can be re-shared by the recipient at any time, with no sure way to get all copies back. Any form of protection we could provide would essentially be "snake oil", could be circumvented, and would have a negative impact on the user experience, such as disabling the browser cache or context menu.

For the highest level of protection, it is recommended to shield your private server from the public Internet. Always use HTTPS, a VPN and/or ideally TLS client certificates and make sure that only people you trust have access to your instance.

Visit docs.photoprism.app/developer-guide/media/thumbnails/ to learn more.

WebDAV

Why do I get an error when trying to add a remote server for syncing?

When adding a new remote server, PhotoPrism tests a number of common endpoints. Only when that fails, you'll see an error. There may be different reasons for this:

  • you are using HTTPS with an invalid certificate (not signed, outdated, domain doesn't match,...)
  • your server has permission issues, or an otherwise bad configuration. For example, Nextcloud blocks requests if the host doesn't match trusted_domains in its config.php
  • the IP is not reachable from your PhotoPrism instance due to network settings, or a firewall
  • the internal hostname can not be resolved to an IP address
  • it's the wrong host or port
  • username or password are wrong

Curl is an excellent tool for testing HTTP connections if you don't mind using a terminal:

curl -X PROPFIND -H "Depth: 1" -u user:pass https://example.org/webdav/

To avoid overlooking issues, it's best to run it from the same Docker container, virtual machine, or server environment where PhotoPrism is installed.

My file sync app fails with "unable to parse TLS packet headers" when trying to connect via WebDAV?

Because of security considerations, some backup tools and file sync apps like FolderSync removed support for non-SSL HTTP communication.

If you install PhotoPrism on a public server outside your home network, always run it behind a secure HTTPS reverse proxy. Your files and passwords will otherwise be transmitted in clear text and can be intercepted by anyone, including your provider, hackers, and governments. Backup tools and file sync apps may refuse to connect as well.