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Shotwell vs F-Spot

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Shotwell is an image organizer designed to provide personal photo management for the GNOME desktop environment. In 2010 it replaced F-Spot as the standard image tool for several GNOME-based major Linux distributions like Fedora and Ubuntu. Shotwell’s power is its simplicity, ease of use and speed.



F-Spot was designed to provide personal photo management for the GNOME desktop. The interface is very simple to use, yet still supports advanced features to cover more specialized needs. The latest version dates 18 months ago showing an uncertain development situation, but it still is a great tool to manage your photos.


Photo Organizing

The first thing that a photo management application must offer is a clear and ergonomic way to organize your photos. Both are doing well using a different approach.


After importing your photographs, Shotwell arranges them automatically using their creation date data. You can choose the year, month and day in a tree structure on the left panel and see the respective photographs on the main screen. Very plain and easy to use.


F-Spot is also using creation date to organize your photos, but it features a different tool to browse them. There is a top date-panel that shows how many photographs are in every month of the year in a bar graph form. This way can be more helpful for some users as you can more easily spot something that you know is included in a large album etc, but it can be confusing to others.

You can also set tags that reflect certain people of places a more personalized organization.

Editing Photographs

While organizing, reviewing and searching for photographs, it is very important to be able to have some basic editing tools within the application itself for some fast and simple editing.


Shotwell can rotate, crop, straighten, remove red-eye, adjust colors, saturation, shadows, exposure, tint and temperature, and finally enhance your photographs. The auto enhance option is very useful as it will attempt to guess appropriate levels for the image and for the pictures that I tried it, it works great.


F-Spot editing tools are easy to use but not all of them work as expected. For example the red-eye reduction tool did nothing for me while in Shotwell I did the job with one click. The soft-focus tool didn’t work for the selected area quite well either. Apart from these, there is also the ability to crop images, desaturate, sepia tone, straighten, auto color (that worked quite well) and color adjustment with more options that in Shotwell.

Uploading your Photos

Every modern photo management application must offer a straight forward way to upload your photographs to various image hosting services on the internet. Both Shotwell and F-Spot seem to get that pretty well.


Shotwell offers mainstream uploading options like Facebook and Picasa Web Albums. The thing that I didn’t like is the absence of an “add more plug-ins” button that would allow for the easier expansion of Shotwell, and the ability to upload to more services than those offered by default.


F-spot goes a step further on this sector, allowing users to export images to more on-line services than Shotwell, while at the same time offering some very handy local options like export to CD (that means burn it). To enrich the on-line integration, F-Spot offers the ability to set a cloud repository that it can be synchronized with. While there isn’t a button that will send you to an on-line repo with more plug-ins, at least here you will find an “install from local folder” button.


Both applications are simple and relatively powerful. My heart says F-Spot because of the more options that it offers, but my mind says Shotwell because of the efficiency and stability (F-Spot crashed twice while testing). Whatever the choice, it is sad to see a very useful application like F-Spot being in development freeze – as it seems.

Shotwell is doing the job just fine and it certainly is a worthy replacer for F-Spot, but it still lacks some “details” found on F-Spot, that I am sure that soon will be available.

Shotwell       F-Spot

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  • Zsolt Sándor

    i’m sticking with gThumb. :)

  • ScionicSpectre

    I love that you do articles like this as well as the context-wrapped update notices. This entry has helped me see which of these applications I prefer.

  • pt3

    is F-spot still slow and unresponsive

    • Bill_Toulas

      No, not slow at all. It is just a little bit unstable, at least it was during testing

  • Anonymous

    Nautilus + Eye of Gnome all the way! :D

    • Alexis Diavatis


  • td-ohio

    How about the fact that F-Spot is built with Mono, and Shotwell isn’t? Features aside, that’s a clear win for Shotwell. Oh wait; “World of Gnome”. I suppose then that Mono probably isn’t that big of a deal for you.

    • Alexis Diavatis

      Is it? We can’t judge programs by the language are written. Remember that Mono project started from Miguel de Icaza, the same person that started Gnome. 

    • Bill_Toulas

      No it isn’t for me. I decided not to even mention this on the article as it really doesn’t matter, nor it registers as a good or bad factor by itself

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