One can be forgiven for thinking that free software is only ever, well, free because it's not really good enough to sell. However, if ever there was a program to change your mind then it's Adobe's Photoshop Album Starter Edition, which is now in its third version. You should be able to download and install the program in about five minutes flat, although you do have to register online for continued use of the software.
Deceptively simple in its appearance, Photoshop Album Starter Edition enables you to create multiple collections of images and to apply tags to pictures, categorising them as People, Places, Events or Other.
Better still, you can add your own categories, sub-categories and tag names for even more flexibility. The only area that's really lacking is ratings, because instead of a proper rating system using, for example, one to five stars, you can only assign images as favourites.
The program practically romped through our test batch of 1,000 photos in just over 20 seconds, before displaying them complete with a handy and stylish timeline for navigating photos or collections of photos in chronological order. There's also a separate calendar view that's equally well thought out.
Photo-editing tools are pretty rudimentary, but do include auto fixes for colour, levels, contrast and sharpening, as well as cropping and a red-eye fix. There's no viewing support for RAW images, but in most respects this is a really classy piece of software, complete with neat slideshow and photo-sharing options.