Geosavvy search on the Mac: CDFinder 5.1, GeoSpotlight

If you’ve got a digital camera, chances are you organize your photos with Picasa or iPhoto. If you’re a dedicated amateur photographer, you’re likely using Aperture for Mac or Adobe Bridge. But if you’re a newspaper or magazine photo editor, and you count your photos in the hundreds of thousands spanning up to a decade, you’re more than likely to have them stuffed on countless DVDs and external hard drives.

For the latter situation, there has long been CDFinder for Mac, a cataloguing tool for all sorts of files on removable media (and hard drives) that allows for far more specific searching than Apple’s own Finder/Spotlight or Microsoft Windows, with the added benefit that the media/drives don’t need to be connected to the computer to search them.

So what happens when the developer, Germany’s Norbert Doerner, gets bitten by the geotagging bug? Why, he turns CDFinder into a geosearch marvel.

Best to show you by example. Below I have a catalog of some photos of mine that contain EXIF coordinate metadata. These photos don’t necessarily have to be on a mounted drive at the moment. The first thing you can do is view their location on a map, with a whole range of options available to you:

And if you read the manual, you find that you can create your own menu options here to include whatever mapping solution you fancy, as the coordinates are available as variables that you can insert into any URL string and add to the list.

That’s much more versatile than the one link to Google Maps provided by the Preview application in Mac OS X 10.5. But the next trick is more impressive: You can do a proximity search on your photos. Just right click on one and head for the Find menu item:

Next, you get asked for the radius of the circle within which you want to find photos…


And up pops a list, with previews, of photos meeting that criteria. That’s got to be a fantastic feature for regional papers reporting on a story and looking for photos of a specific spot in their archives (assuming they’ve been geotagged).

Do try this out yourself — there is a free trial (license is $39). One caveat: You need to turn on this photo geosavviness in the preferences, under Cataloging > Read Media-info, to use these search options.

You just know this stuff is eventually going to make it into operating systems by default, it’s just that it will take ages. Here’s hoping that this kind of smart geosavvy search gets extended to photos in my Aperture library, or that Aperture gets plugins to do this. And here’s me hoping that photo browsing tools soon let me roam a mapped view of my photos, or accept a bounding box on a map as a search query, right from my desktop.

Er, actually, that day may come sooner rather than later. As I wrote this post, The Map Room linked to a recent post on High Earth Orbit where Andrew Turner shows off GeoSpotlight, a Mac application he whipped up that lets you search for images via their EXIF coordinate metadata (which Spotlight indexes as of OS X version 10.5) using a bounding box, and showing a selected image on a Map. It’s great to see GUIs being developed that bring this raw capability of OS X 10.5 to us non-command line people:


One thought on “Geosavvy search on the Mac: CDFinder 5.1, GeoSpotlight”

  1. What a great tool ! And for all of you out there not being fortunate enough to work with Mac on a daily basis, there’s a Windows version,too. It’s called CDWinder, has the same cool geosavvy functions, and can be found here : :)

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