Top 5 Photo Mechanic Free and Paid Alternatives 2023

By Narrative

Photo Mechanic is not the only option out there when it comes to photo culling tools. In the last few years, other alternatives to Photo Mechanic have entered the market, with features that may be better suited to your photo culling needs. Take a look at some of the great free and paid alternatives we have found.

1. Narrative Select

Select by Narrative is the best alternative to Photo Mechanic. Not only is it lightning fast, but it’s integrated with AI to help you choose your very best images. The best part is you still have full control over the image selection process!

Pricing: Free! 


  • Speed - Select can import your project in seconds! Forget waiting for previews and images to load, once your images have uploaded, Select has virtually no load time between images.
  • Eye and Focus Assessments - Select's warning indicators tell you the state of your subject’s eyes or if your subject is out of focus so that you can quickly identify flaws and move on!
  • Close-ups panel - Instantly view closeup crops of all faces in a photo, all at once. No more zooming in and panning around for group photos! 
  • Scenes - Select uses AI to identify scenes (groups of similar images). This allows you to quickly skip to the next scene if you have found the best image in that group. 
  • Image Assessments - Image Assessments use red and yellow warnings to let you know there are better images in a scene. You can also choose to filter out any of those images with red and/or yellow warnings applied to them, resulting in fewer images for you to cull.
  • Ship to Lightroom - Once you’ve finished culling, you can easily ship your chosen images along with their different star or color ratings directly into Lightroom.

Unlike some other products that attempt (and often fail) to cull your images for you automatically, Select empowers you to choose your best images faster with the help of industry-leading AI. Why not just do it for you? Because we are photographers too and we understand that images that aren't perfect still make the final selection because of artistic reasons outside of what any AI can detect. We know most photographers aren't willing to compromise the quality of their work to save time - and that’s why we created Select!

Cull your photoshoot twice as fast

Get Narrative Select Free on macOS & Windows. No credit card required.

2. ACDsee Ultimate

ACDSee Ultimate can be used for photo culling, cataloging and photo editing. It has customizable keyboard shortcuts to increase your culling and editing process.

Pricing: $89 per year 


  • Histograms to add layers and adjust different aspects of the photo (great for portraits)
  • Adjust the color tone of the image
  • You can create customized presets 

3. Adobe Lightroom

Lightroom is a program most photographers will be familiar with and it is built primarily for editing images. Lightroom is much slower than a dedicated culling tool and doesn’t have any additional AI features. 

See our blog on how to speed up Lightroom.

Pricing: $9.99/month


  • Ability to add/change metadata and sync those changes across a gallery
  • Create collections for easy organization

4. FastRawViewer

FastRawViewer is an affordable product that allows you to preview RAW files quickly and without lag.

Pricing: $23.99

  • Reads embedded JPEG images + RAW images
  • Increases the contrast in the highlights of the image to determine what can or cannot be corrected. 

5. Adobe Bridge

Adobe Bridge is a creative asset manager that anyone can download for free. No Adobe subscription necessary!  

Pricing: Free!


  • Tag with keywords
  • Adjust orientation
  • Add star ratings
  • Organize Files