Handling Offline Media on CD/DVDs in PSE’s Organizer

In PSE you can move some of your images offline to CDs or DVDs, and only keep a low resolution “preview” (called a proxy in earlier versions) on your PC’s hard drive. Doing this was a good strategy as your hard drive began to fill up when using PSE 5 or earlier.  External hard drives were not very common back then. Electing to keep only a preview on your hard drive greatly reduced the amount of space each photo consumed. Within the Organizer’s Edit > Preferences > Files dialog you could set a maximum resolution of 1280×960 to maximize the usability of the previews in your Catalog. If you wanted to edit the photo, you would need to load the appropriate full resolution file from CD/DVD as prompted by PSE in order to proceed.

For almost everything else, PSE would prompt you giving you option to use the preview instead of loading the applicable CD/DVD. With the 1280×960 image size used for generating the previews, one could do almost anything with the preview without sacrificing quality. For example, such things as displaying an offline image full screen (F11), making a slide show, and even printing a 4×6 photo could all be done using the preview without needing to load the CD/DVD into the drive. PSE would use the preview from the hard drive.

All of that changed with PSE 6. With that version, Adobe made major changes to the database (Catalog) and you could not do hardly anything useful with offline media without loading the applicable CD/DVD. That really impacted the way I was doing things back then. At that time, I had about 16,000 pictures in my Catalog, and 12,000 of these were on CD/DVDs that became pretty much useless, unless I loaded their CD/DVD into the drive. Faced with that, I decided to bring all of the images back online to my C drive. It was a long tedious process, due in part to some CD-identifying bugs in early versions of PSE. My current Catalog of 25K photos is still currently on my C drive.  Today there are other options for dealing with offline media, like external hard drives.  

Right now I have plenty of disk space for future growth, but I am now shooting RAW images with a 10 MP camera (hopefully upgrading to one with 18 MP) and taking more and more video. Sooner or later, I will want to seriously think about offloading some of my older images, possibly even putting some onto CD/DVDs. I had an occasion to review how PSE 8 handles offline media stored on CD/DVDs. It may not be as restrictive as it was back when PSE 6 was introduced, but there are still some serious restrictions in PSE 8. The table below summarizes how things are done in PSE 8 for some common activities.

Feature or Activity Can Use Preview
Display Image in Full Screen Mode (F11) No
Use in a Slide Show From Slide Show Editor No
PDF Slide Show From Share > More Options Yes
Print From Organizer Yes
Export No
Email – Attachments & Photo Mail Yes
Share > Burn Data to CD/DVD No
Share > Mobile Phones and Players No

 Below is an example of a typical dialog box that allows you to use the Preview. In this case it is for printng from the Organizer.


The figure below is a typical dialog box that does not allow using the Preview as an option, in this case displaying the image full screen

It is intersting that some of the activities where the preview cannot be used require the least resolution for a quality output, such as displaying the image full screen or sharing the image to a mobile phone, are those that do not require high resolution images. Fortunately, most people probably find using external hard drives for offline storage works fine and in many respects much easier that keeping track of CD/DVDs. By keeping the the external hard drive connected, PSE always has access to the full resolution image. 

Please comment with your thoughts and experiences. What do you do as your main hard drive gets full?


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