IMatch Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General Questions

Does IMatch run on Apple computers?

No. IMatch is a Windows application and runs on Windows 10 and later version of Windows.

Can I use IMatch on multiple computers?

Yes. The licensed user can use IMatch on any number of computers, provided that she/he is the only user of IMatch on these computers (no sharing IMatch with other people). See the IMatch License Agreement (EULA) for more information.

Do I get free updates?

Yes. When you purchase a license for IMatch, you’ll get all updates for that version for free, until the next major version is released. We ship updates with (often substantial) enhancements, new features and bug fixes about every six to eight weeks.

What about paid upgrades?

About every 12 to 18 months we release a major upgrade. For example, IMatch 2025 following IMatch 2024.
These upgrades contain major enhancements, big new feature blocks, often include upgraded versions of 3rd party components like the image libraries used in IMatch, AI tech, browser component updates, new apps etc.
We put a lot of work into these major releases and require a fee from users when they want to upgrade to the latest version. These fees allow us to continue the development of IMatch and help pay the bills.

When a new major upgrade is released, users with a license for the previous version can upgrade with a very fair discount We offer discounts for upgrades from one major release to the next. See Our Fair Update and Upgrade Policy for details.

Customers who have purchased the product within six (6) months before the release date of a paid upgrade get the new version for free automatically.

Note that older versions of IMatch will not stop working when you don’t upgrade.
These versions will keep working as long as there are no breaking changes in Windows or the 3rd party components and APIs IMatch is using.

Where can I learn more about IMatch?

Are there any reviews for IMatch?

Read the user reviews for IMatch on the Capterra web site.

Is there an overview of all IMatch features?

The Visual Index in the IMatch Online Help is a good starting point to find out about all major feature groups in IMatch.
The Meet IMatch help topic provides a good guidance for what you should look into, and in which order, depending on your requirements.
If you are new to metadata or you want to learn about how IMatch works with metadata, check out the Metadata for Beginners topic.

How do I convert the trial version to a licensed version?

When you purchase IMatch, our distributor MyCommerce sends you an email with your license key and instructions.
Use your email and license key to log into the photools.com Customer Portal and download the licensed version of your product. Double-click on the downloaded installer to install the software. Licensed versions of our products automatically convert an installed Trial version into the full product. If an older licensed version is installed, it is upgraded.

Where do I get support?

Support for IMatch is provided via the friendly user community and by direct email contact to the developers.

What happens if you discontinue IMatch?

Nothing. IMatch will continue to work as long as there is no breaking change in Windows. Which are really rare.
This gives you plenty of time to evaluate other DAM products and switch. Since IMatch is a great supporter of metadata standards, all your precious metadata is stored safely in your images or XMP sidecar files in standard IPTC, EXIF, GPS and XMP format.. This allows other applications to access this data easily.
For IMatch-only data like Attributes or Categories, export features are available which allow you to export this data and import it into other applications.

IMatch is slow and even stops responding…?

The installed anti-virus software (virus checker) is the problem in 90% of related support requests.
If you experience IMatch being very slow or stalling / blocking / becoming non-responsive and you use a virus checker other than Windows Defender, please configure your anti-virus software to exclude the entire folder (!) containing your IMatch database as the first step. A virus checker continuously scanning the IMatch database after ever change IMatch makes will bring the performance down to a crawl.

Tip: You can see the folder and file name of your database in the Dashboard and in the Info & Activity panel.

If this does not solve the problem, configure IMatch itself as an exception in your virus checker. IMatch uses external helper applications like ExifTool (in the same folder as the IMatch executable), and this sometimes triggers virus checkers to block IMatch.

If you need help, we’re here for you.

Snap! IMatch has crashed! What to do now?

Don’t Panic. Your database and settings are safe. You can just restart IMatch and continue where you left off.
Before you restart IMatch, make a copy of the IMatch log file. See The IMatch Logfile.
IMatch crashes rarely, and in most cases the crash is caused when IMatch tries to import a badly corrupted file. The log file contains the names of the recently processed files, which can be very help. Include the ZIPped log file when you contact us via email.

When IMatch crashes, it usually produces a DUMP file with detailed error information. See The Debug Dump File in the IMatch Help System for details and what you should do with the DUMP file.

If you need help, we’re here for you.

Does IMatch support RAW files?

Yes. IMatch reads and displays RAW files using the installed WIC codecs on your system. If no WIC codec is installed for your RAW format or WIC does not handle your RAW format, IMatch falls back to using the awesome LibRaw library.

Note that RAW files are proprietary and undocumented by nature. Camera vendors often have dozens of file format variants in circulation and neither Microsoft (WIC codecs included in Windows) nor necessarily LibRaw support all variants.

Related help topic: WIC Basics.

Does IMatch support videos and other file formats?

Yes. IMatch supports over 100 file formats, including video, Office, PDF, MP3 and many others.
Formats not directly supported can be added as a user-format or you contact photools.com and ask for including your proprietary format in a future version.

Is there a limit for how many files I can manage in IMatch?

Not really. IMatch can comfortably manage hundreds of thousands of files per database. Users typically manage between 50,000 and 200,000 files per database. Commercial and institutional clients between 200,000 and one million files.

Is IMatch fast?

Yes. IMatch is designed to be fast and, for example, searches 50,000 files in less than 1 second.
Naturally, as your database grows, IMatch will become a bit slower. For example, it takes twice as long to search 200,000 files than it takes to search 100,000 files. IMatch utilizes and benefits from computers with fast SSD storage and multiple processor cores. Put the IMatch database on your fastest disk/SSD and you’ll be fine.

Can you please add a feature that…

We’re adding features to IMatch all the time, based on requests made in the user community, from what we learn discussing with IMatch users in person and from projects done with IMatch.

Feel free to add a feature request in the feature request board in the IMatch user community. Other users can comment on your request and support it. If a feature request gets enough feedback and upvotes, we’ll look into it.

File Organization

General File Organization

IMatch manages your files where they are. There is no need to change how you organize files in the file system.

Can IMatch manage files on my NAS?

Yes. As long as Windows can access the files, IMatch can manage them.
Note that operations on files stored on a NAS (like the initial indexing or later writing metadata to the files) will take longer than for files stored on a hard disk or SSD in your computer.

What kind of file organization do you recommend?

Different users have different needs and preferences. There is no best organization.
From experience, it seems that most uses prefer to manage their files in a simple YEAR\MONTH\DAY structure (or only YEAR\MONTH, if you don’t take that many photos). Something similar to this:

c:\images
  |-2019
  |-2020
  |-2021
  |-2022
    |-01 Jan
    |-02 Feb
    |-03 Mar
      |-01   <= All files from March 1., 2022
      |-05
      |-12
      |-13
      |-19
...

A simple structure like this keeps your files automatically organized by time and it works well in Windows Explorer, IMatch and other software. You can easily see in the years, months and days you have created images or other files.

Tip: Using two-digit numbers with leading zeros where needed keeps the folders properly sorted, whether or not the software you use to work with them has smart sorting (like IMatch) or just sorts by by letter.

Related topics in the IMatch help: The Media & Folders View and Working with Files and Folders.
IMatch automatically organizes your files based on date in the Timeline View.

Can IMatch rename files?

Yes. You can rename individual files in File Windows by pressing F2 (or using the Rename command from the right-click menu).
To rename many files (batch renaming) use the Renamer, which offers powerful features for renaming files. It can even copy and move files, create folders on-the-fly etc.

Can IMatch sort files by date or file name or author or…

Yes. IMatch provides a feature called sort profiles which allow you to sort files by basically anything. IMatch includes a number of frequently used profiles you can just pick from in File Windows and elsewhere. And you can create your own profiles if you need to sort your files by less frequently used metadata.

Does IMatch provide search functions?

Oh yes. IMatch offers very powerful search functions.

Related help topics: Searching. The File Window Search Bar. Filters. Finding Duplicate and Similar Files.

What are categories?

IMatch categories enable you to organize, group and arrange your files in many ways.
You can create categories manually and assign files to them. A file can be in any number of categories, without duplicating the file on disk. This makes organizing files with categories very fast and versatile.
IMatch’s unique data-driven categories automatically organize your files by criteria like camera model, lens, aperture, shutter speed, location and more. You can create your own data-driven categories to meed your needs.
Formula-based categories allow you to combine existing categories into new categories, dynamically.

Related help topics: Categories. Data-driven categories. Category Formulas. Keywords vs. Categories.

Should I use categories or keywords?

This depends. Both concepts have some overlap. As a general rule: Use keywords when you want to persist (store) the information in the image itself. Use categories when you need complex features like data-driven organization or formulas.

See Keywords vs. Categories in the IMatch help for more information.

Metadata

What is metadata?

Metadata is data stored inside your images and other files, alongside the actual image.
This includes technical metadata like EXIF information your camera or phone embeds in the image, GPS coordinates some devices add, and data like title, headline, description or keywords you add later.

Related help topic: Metadata for Beginners. How IMatch is using Metadata.

Where do I see and edit keywords in IMatch?

The main feature to work with keywords in IMatch is the Keywords Panel. It offers many features to efficiently edit keywords for one or multiple files.

Where do I see and edit metadata in IMatch?

The main feature for viewing and editing metadata in IMatch is the Metadata Panel.

Are tags and keywords the same?

Yes. Some applications use the term tag to describe keywords. Which is a bit confusing.
IMatch uses the term tag to describe individual metadata fields like title, description, latitude, aperture etc.

Which metadata fields should I fill?

This depends on your needs. The Default layout in the Metadata Panel shows the most frequently used metadata fields.

Adding a descriptive headline, a description and some keywords is usually a good idea. Not only for display purposes, but also to support the search functions in IMatch.

Very important are the Create Date and Date Subject Created fields. IMatch fills these automatically during import from existing EXIF or other suitable metadata in your files. The Date Subject Created field is the more important field. It is used by IMatch to anchor the file on the timeline, for events, variables etc. See How IMatch uses Date and Time Information for detailed information.

When you work for image agencies or clients, you usually have specific rules to follow about which metadata fields to fill and how. In these cases you can create your own Metadata Panel layout which contains all the fields you need to fill.

See Metadata for Beginners for additional info and pointers.

Does IMatch support GPS coordinates and location data?

Yes. If your files already contain GPS coordinates, IMatch uses these coordinates to place the files in the Map Panel. It can also automatically add location data like country, city and location via the built-in reverse geocoding features.
If your files don’t contain GPS data yet, you can easily add it in the Map Panel.

How can I save time when adding metadata?

You can setup Metadata Templates to automatically fill one or more metadata fields. You can then apply these templates manually or automatically during import.

Get yourself acquainted with all the time-saver and batch features in the Keywords Panel and the @Keywords category. Spending an hour or two to learn how you can easily apply keywords to many files, replace keywords for many files, fix typos, correct inconsistent keyword usage (using different keywords for the same thing) etc. will save you lots of time in the future.

A good keyword thesaurus makes keyword input much faster and more consistent.

Related help topic: Saving time with IMatch.