Notes on ThumbsPlus

A few preliminary notes by Walter vom Saal

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For many years I used ThumbsPlus to organize my entire photo collection and have been very happy with it. ThumbsPlus is offered by and is now in its 8th version. It was developed and maintained by a small company with only one primary programmer. It has many powerful features, including several features Lightroom does not have

In the last couple of years I along with many others have become increasingly dissatisfied with ThumbsPlus .  At some point I might add more information here about the reasons I became dissatisfied. Largely it had to do with my worries that the program was no longer being well supported, and my worry that the program eventually might die. Because of these worries, and also because Lightroom in the meantime had been developed and evolved into an extremely powerful program that did much (but not all!) that ThumbsPlus could do, I decided to stop using ThumbsPlus and move all my photos into Lightroom. I did this reluctantly, because I really liked ThumbsPlus and it continues to offer valuable features that Lightroom does not have.

Some things I liked about ThumbsPlus

- Database with keywords, annotations, and galleries. It is a very powerful program that allowed me to keep Keywords, Annotations (similar to Lightrooms's Captions), and Galleries (similar to Lightroom's Collections) of over 40,000 photos. I could very rapidly search the entire database by keywords or annotations or file names or parts of file names, or Boolean combinations (and, or) of those.

- Editable database. The full database is viewable and editable in a database program.

- Web galleries with user-selected features. It includes a powerful web gallery creation feature, including both templates and a high degree of user-specified parameters. In several ways the web album creation capacities of ThumbsPlus were better than those in Lightroom. For example, you could add a variety of user fields beneath the photos. It also was possible to edit the templates to do other more advanced things. As one example, I was able to develop my own specialized web album template that allowed both screen-size photos for the album, and automatic links to full-resolution photos that could be downloaded. In this way it was more flexible than Lightroom is now.

- Support. I found the developer responsive and supportive (as did many others). There also was a very knowledgeable and helpful user's group. It had large and very helpful group of users. For example, I posted a question about how to rename photos in a gallery in the gallery order (for export to PowerPoint or other slideshow programs). This was something not built in to ThumbsPlus (though it should have been), but I got a quick reply from another user about a clever work-around that solved the problem. Unfortunately, as described below, this high level of support largely evaporated in recent years.

- Other things Lightroom still can't do. See the list in the page on ThumbsPlus vs. Lightroom.

Some things I didn't like about ThumbsPlus

- Poor help file. It has alwyas had terrible help file.

- Disappearance of support. The nice collection of very helpful users gradually dissipated. The very useful user forums were not maintained by and disappeared. (I can't help wondering if they were intentionally allowed to die because of the increasing number of angry complaints about lack of responsiveness.)

Why I decided to give up on ThumbsPlus and move to Lightroom

- On line complaints about ThumbsPlus grew to a chorus of angry users when Version 8 was repeatedly promised and not delivered.

- Many users complained that the developers at became less responsive to individual requests than they had been previously. I sent several emails that were never responded to. This was in sharp contrast to my experience several years earlier, when I had participated in beta testing of one upgrade and found the staff at to be very responsive and attentive to user interests and needs. 

- When I finally did get Version 8, it did not have the new features I had most hoped (and asked) for. I couldn't get it to work without errors, and emails to the company about it went unanswered. (I stayed with Version 7, which was working quite well for me and with which I was quite satisfied.)

- While my dissatisfaction with ThumbsPlus was growing, Lightroom in the meantime had been developed (it didn't even exist when I started using ThumbsPlus). Lightroom was recently released in its third major upgrade, had an impressive list of features, and was being offered by a company that I had more confidence would continue to exist, and was being used by a huge number of people that offered the likelihood of strong support through forums, discussion groups, and third party offerings.



See also:

Notes on Lightroom

A comparison of ThumbsPlus versus Lightroom

Procedures for migrating from ThumbsPlus to Lightroom


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[updated 3/24/2012]