There are several ways to load images.
- To scan a directory open a picture from this directory via the
tool bar or with the file/open menu. This will load all images in the
directory and all images in directories within the directory
recursively. All files are tried to be read. If you are using an import
filter command, this may lead to unexpected effects, like loading HTML
or PDF documents as pictures. Give a list of file types for the import
filter to avoid this.
- Copy image files in the windows explorer and paste them into
- Copy the path of picture files into the clipboard as text and
insert into PictureRelate.
- Drag and drop images.
- Drag and drop directories for recursive scanning.
- Open a database of images created with PictureRelate. If a
database is already open and you decide not to close it, the new
database is merged with the current database (which may take some time
for large databases.)
View pictures in order of loading
This is the default. To return to this view of your loaded images
- press the symbol in the toolbar or
- choose "view / Unsorted" from the menu.
View a picture in full size
Since version 1.1 PictureRelate can display selected images in large.
Just open up the view window using menu or tool bar.
To initiate viewing you can also
For more thorough viewing, PictureRelate also offers to use the application
associated with the picture to view. Choose "View external" from the
picture context menu.
- select picture and press space bar, or
- press middle mouse button on picture, or
- choose "View" from the pictures context menu (right mouse click
on picture), or
- Choose a tool from "Open with..." in the context menu.
To put a new tool into the "Open with..." menu choose "Open with... /
Edit Tools" and read the readme file.
View sorted by directory and file name
- Press the symbol in the toolbar, or
- choose "View / List Sorted by File" from the application menu.
Do a quick similarity search
- Double-click a picture, or
- select a picture and press return key, or
- press the symbol in the toolbar, or
- select a picture and choose "View / List Search Similar" from the
To adjust criterias
Criterias are grouped into global, coarse, local, and other.
- press the symbol in the toolbar, or
- choose "Search / Search Similarity Criterias" from the
Global criterias refer to the
overall appearance of the picture.
Coarse criterias split the
image into a few regions and compare those regions. Therfore these
criterias emphasize similar picture layout.
- Color is the overall
appearance of red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, and magenta. Note
that black and white are not colors.
- Saturation compares the
relative amount of saturated to pale colors.
- Brightness refers to the
relative amount of bright and dark regions in the picture.
- Texture means the
structure of image; no color information is used here.
Local criterias focus on
dominant accumulations of color in the image. Often these accumulations
appear as blobs to the human eye.
- Color again is the
color, as above.
- Saturation - as above.
- Brightness - as above.
- Center is a modifier
for all coarse criterias. If center is high, only the center region of
pictures are compared. If center is low, only the border regions are
Other criterias are
- Place indicates the
importance of the location of a blob.
- Area refers to the size
of the blob.
- Intensity measures how
dominant the accumulation is, i.e. how intense and colorful the blob is.
- Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue, and Magenta modify the three criteras
above. They adjust the importance of blobs of that color.
Note that color channels overlap sometimes. E.g. if you are looking for yellow,
try green and red too.
- Format, which is the
aspect ratio of width to height (i.e. portrait or landscape format),
- Size, which is the size
of the picture in pixels.
With a bit of experience you can search pictures by similarity the
- Choose a picture remotely looking like what you are looking for.
- Adjust criterias so that as many
similar pictures as possible appear as close as possible to the selected image.
- Select several of these similar pictures to see if they are a
- Repeat the above steps. Use the selection history functionality
to recover from unsuccessful selections.
To move forward and backward in the recorded list of selected pictures,
- use the toolbar buttons to select previously selected
picture, sroll to currently selected picture, and select next picture,
- press Alt-key and Cursor-left-key for previous, Alt-right for
next, or Alt-down to scroll to the selected image.
Search for duplicates
Select the degree of similarity you want and press "Search". Comparing
every picture with all other pictures can take a while for larger
databases, especially if you opted for a low degree of similarity. But
you can browse found images as soon as they appear in the list, and you
can cancel the search.
- Select the symbol in the toolbar (which
opens the search dialog once), or
- choose "View / List Search Duplicates" from the application menu, or
- choose "Search / Search for Duplicates" from the application menu
(which always opens the search dialog).
Semi-Automatic Adjustment of Criterias
Adjusting criterias is sometimes a difficult task, because it is not
always obvious which criterias are useful to find similar pictures and
which are not. Therefore I implemented two methods of auto-adjusting
criterias, which you can find in the "Search" menu and in the toolbar.
First select a number of pictures you consider to be similar. Use
Control-Click (hold down control key and click with left mouse button)
to add or remove an picture from the selection. Use shift-Click to
select a range of pictures.
This algorithm guesses your choice of
criterias in a quick single step. It compares how similar the criterias
in all selected pictures are and activates very similar ones and
deactivates dissimilar ones. This can give you an idea on what
criterias to focus for your search. Unfortunately in most cases the
number of selected pictures is far too small to give any statistically
significant hints, so this option on its own might not produce good
This algorithms adjusts your current
choice of criterias iteratively so that as many of your selected
pictures as possible are as similar as possible to the search picture,
while at the same time all non-selected images are made as dissimilar
as possible. In other words, the images you selected will - on average
- move to the top of the list of similar images. Note that it is quite
often mathematically impossible to find a setting for criterias that
brings all images to the top of the list. Also note that this algorithm
is iterative, so it matters where you start from. Especially those
criterias you turned off completely will not be turned on. In general I
recommend to start from the default setting of criterias.
For very large databases this option may become slow. In those cases
you may want to cancel it as soon as the results did become better.
Press escape key to do so. Otherwise use this algorithm repeatedly until results won't change any more. Add more images to the selection and repeat.
Use this option to restart adjusting
your criterias from a "reasonable" default whenever it looks like you
reached a dead end in adjusting criterias.
Large numbers of picture and database files
As soon as your loaded collection of pictures becomes larger, I
recommend you associate it with a database file on disk. Otherwise you
might run out of virtual memory pretty soon. To associate your pictures
with a database file, choose "Save..." or "Save As..." from the
application menu. Note that the file is not always created immediately,
but when needed. The name of the database will appear in the title bar
of the application window. Once you opened a database, PictureRelate is
working on that file. So you must not move or delete an open database.
And it is important to close the database. Otherwise it may become
corrupted. So don't kill the application. You may want to make a copy
of a large database (and by the way, if you compare the time a database
needs for copying with the time it needs for opening, you will
appreciate the work I spent into creating an efficient database
Also you may want to consider multiple databases. If you know which
pictures you want to relate, and which you don't want to relate, use
this information and put separate groups of pictures into separate
The status bar at the bottom of the application window displays current
status information (as it usually does in most windows applications).
There are some safety measures integrated into PictureRelate to avoid
running out of memory or disk space, but I recommend you don't rely too
much on them. Remember: crashing the program can corrupt your picture
- The first section displays errors, warnings, and information like
the file path of the selected picture.
- The second section displays the number of pictures loaded into
- The third section displays the amount of available virtual
memory. If this value drops below 100 MB, you should be careful. Close
some other applications, or see the windows documentation on how to
enlarge your swap space.
- The last section displays the amount of available disk space.
Choose a disk with enough space. As a rule of thumb, 50.000 pictures
need about 1000 MB of disk space.
Searching duplicate pictures is one thing, to decide which of the duplicates to delete is another task. In the end you have to decide yourself which picture to delete, but here are some helpful hints how to do it.
After pictures where modified in the Explorer or with other programs,
I recommend you use "File / Update / Update All Pictures" from the menu, so PictureRelate knows about the change.
If pictures were renamed outside of PictureRelate, you may have to re-load them into PictureRelate.
Using the context menu or keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Del you can remove all currently selected pictures from file system and DB at the same time.
Using "Select / Small Duplicates" you can (would you have guessed it?) select all pictures in a group of duplicates which are smaller than the largest picture in this group. Here size means the size of the picture in pixel. Usually this is a pretty good criteria, but there may be situations where it is not. E.g. if a picture was enlarged, but picture quality got worse in this process, you might want to keep the smaller picture.
But what if a group of duplicates has multiple pictures of the same size? Or if all of them are the same size? Then there is "Select / Largest Duplicate". Now you could drag and drop the largest duplicates to another folder (beware of name collisions!). Or to delete all but one largest picture per group of duplicates, you can do "Select / Invert Duplicates" and delete them as discussed before.
The context menu of a picture and the status bar offer some more help to decide which picture to delete. As mentioned before the status bar displays file path and file size of the last single selected picture.
To find out more about a picture the context menu offers to display "Properties" and to open the windows folder the pictures file is in with "Explore Directory".
"Explore Directory" opens a Windows Explorer with the file of the picture selected.
From there you can manupliate the picture as you are used to, e.g. delete it.
If you have a question which is not covered above, send it to me via