Do you ever feel overwhelmed by hundreds or thousands of images on your desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone? Do you ever wish you could access all of your images – across multiple devices! – in one clean, easy-to-organize, secure location, whether you’re online or offline?
That’s what Mylio Photos is designed to do.
Mylio is a photo-management program that offers:
- Easy cataloging, rating, and IPTC metadata editing (so you can sort and organize photos of all types)
- Intelligent search functionality (so you can instantly retrieve images from long-ago trips, forgotten folders, and more)
- Quick syncing (so you can view, manage, and even edit your images on an unlimited number of devices, even if they’re offline)
- Outstanding privacy and backup options (so you never have to worry about your photos getting stolen or deleted forever)
Importantly, Mylio Photos works without saving your files to the cloud. This means you get the benefits of cloud storage but none of the drawbacks. For instance, while using Mylio, your photos remain secure in your home, not on the servers of a for-profit company. And you won’t spend hundreds of dollars on ever-increasing cloud storage costs, either. Mylio even manages to keep catalog sizes low by using Smart Previews, which are modified RAW files that offer full editing capabilities yet take up about 3% of the disk space of the originals.
Of course, no program is perfect, and Mylio isn’t right for everyone. That’s what this hands-on Mylio Photos review is about: Sharing both the pros and cons of Mylio, so that – whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, beginner or expert – you can determine if it’s the perfect program for your needs.
Let’s dive right in!
Mylio Photos: Overview
In essence, Mylio Photos is incredibly simple:
It takes all the photos on your desktop, laptop, phone, and tablet. And it creates a single catalog that contains all of your files, and which you can access from all of your devices.
You can use any connected device to view and perform operations on these files. For instance, you can move images into different collections. You can add star ratings, labels, and keywords, and you can even apply edits.
Modify files on one device, and the adjustments will immediately appear on other Mylio-connected devices. That way, you can treat your Mylio apps as one big image manager, not as independent catalogs on separate devices.
Bear in mind, however: Mylio isn’t designed for image storage. It doesn’t save your photos to the cloud; instead, it keeps them safe and secure on your devices.
You might be wondering:
If Mylio stores an entire catalog of images on each of my devices, won’t I run out of space on my tablets and phones?
It’s a serious concern, but Mylio offers a clever workaround: The program keeps your catalog files small by only storing image thumbnails. Then, depending on your specific device’s storage capacity, it produces higher-resolution images – called Smart Previews, as discussed above – or copies the originals. (For reference, a large, 10 TB image catalog translates to 500 GB of Smart Previews and just 200 MB of thumbnails!) That way, you always have access to your image thumbnails, and you can configure different devices to store high-resolution files as needed. You also have the option to customize how Mylio handles image storage, and you can even save larger files on a folder-by-folder or image-by-image basis.
Now, I’ve spent the last handful of weeks working with Mylio and testing its features. And while I go into greater depth below, I’m deeply impressed. The application is easy to use, the interface is sleek and intuitive, and the entire process, from importing and sorting files to syncing and even editing, is carefully designed for maximum effectiveness.
In my view, Mylio Photos is the perfect program for photographers who:
- Have a large or fast-growing image catalog
- Want to organize images across multiple devices
You might also want to try Mylio Photos if you prefer the reasonable costs and added privacy of home storage – and if you like the idea of using cloud storage but with added security, you also have the option to combine Mylio’s encryption process with your choice of cloud service.
Let’s take a closer look at Mylio’s features:
Ease of use and interface
Getting your photos organized with Mylio Photos couldn’t be simpler.
After you purchase a Mylio subscription on the company website – or set up a full-featured, 30-day free trial – the program will download and install on your computer within minutes.
(Do you need to start with a computer? Just pick the device that is currently storing most of your image files!)
Open Mylio Photos, and follow the prompts to log in to your account and set up a folder. When you’re done, you’ll see a clean, inviting interface. You can begin adding photos from your computer using the Add Media button in the Navigation bar:
And the photos will instantly appear in your Mylio Library. (Note that, during the import process, your files aren’t moved from their original location, so you can easily keep your desktop structure organized and even edit your images in other apps.)
You can sift through your imported photos using several Views, which can be handy for locating and keeping track of different image types:
The All Photos View, for instance, displays every image in your Mylio Library in chronological order (though you can adjust the app so it sorts by name or rating instead), while the Map View lets you examine photos based on the place they were taken. Then there’s the Albums View, where you can create collections for your images, and the Folders view, which lets you see all the external folders holding your files.
(Personally, I love the Albums option, and when testing Mylio, it was the View I used most frequently. You can create Albums for specific photography genres – based on the type of images you like to take – or you can use Albums to organize files based on specific trips or photoshoots!)
Mylio also offers a Dashboard, which helps you set up your catalog and take advantage of various features:
It’s here, in the Dashboard, that you can add additional devices to your Mylio account. Select the Devices option, then click Add:
And Mylio will walk you through the process of connecting a phone, tablet, additional computer, etc.
Soon after getting Mylio up and running, I added the entire photo library from my smartphone. Setup was insanely easy, and my phone images were syncing within seconds.
Heading back to the main interface, you’ll see a series of icons on the right-hand side of the screen:
These allow you to review image info (such as camera type, lens type, and date of creation) and rate your images. You can also apply image adjustments, and you can export the finished files for sharing or printing by clicking the Share Selected Items icon and following the prompts:
Note that the interface remains relatively consistent on the Mylio smartphone app, though the View options sit at the bottom of the screen while the Dashboard joins the Navigation bar:
And you can only access certain elements, such as the Edit panel and the Export window, by first selecting a photo.
At first, you might find transitioning back and forth between the desktop app and the smartphone app a little disorienting. But after a few minutes of playing around, I suspect you’ll get the hang of it (I did!).
Once you’ve connected your devices and added your image folders, maintaining a Mylio catalog takes very little effort. You don’t even need to import new photos; just add the files to the existing Mylio folders on one of your devices, and they’ll quickly appear in your Mylio Library. Convenient, right?
Syncing and storage
As I emphasized above, Mylio is designed to sync images across devices, but the program doesn’t rely on cloud storage. You (as the user) keep your files on your computers, external hard drives, phones, and tablets, while Mylio creates thumbnails that sync across each device via a secure connection. (Note: If you like the idea of cloud storage, you can use an external cloud plan to store your photos, which can then be integrated with Mylio. Here, Mylio offers an encryption option so you can be confident that only your devices can access the files.) As you adjust the files on your computer, the corresponding thumbnails are adjusted on your phone and tablet (and vice versa).
It’s tough to organize images using small thumbnails, of course, so Mylio also offers the option to sync Smart Previews, the small yet high-quality versions of the original files. These Smart Previews can then be edited in Mylio like any RAW file, shared at resolutions large enough for social media and slideshow viewing, and even printed as 5x7s – yet they take up far less space, allowing you to maintain a high-resolution catalog without the need for terabytes of storage.
Mylio actually enables intelligent Smart Preview syncing by default. Thanks to this setting, the app evaluates your device and syncs Smart Previews if it determines your device has sufficient storage space. (You also have the option to customize Smart Preview syncing based on image ratings and keywords.) And if you want Smart Previews – or even Originals – for specific images, you can always use Mylio’s Tap to Sync feature to designate specific folders for Smart Preview or Original syncing. That way, you can create a folder of images for offline editing, save them as Smart Previews or Originals, then process the files while on a plane or in an area with no internet. Alternatively, you can sync Smart Previews or Originals on an image-by-image basis by right-clicking specific files, then selecting the Download: Previews or Download: Originals option.
Personally, I’m a fan of Mylio’s cloud-avoidant syncing solution. I have a huge image catalog, so a cloud-only program like Lightroom CC is out of the question (I don’t even want to contemplate the price for 15+ TB of Adobe cloud storage!). Mylio is the only photo-management program I’ve encountered that allows me to view all my photos across my devices. Also, as Mylio points out, cloud storage certainly isn’t secure – and you don’t always know what companies are doing with your photos, either. By keeping images on your devices, you can massively mitigate security and privacy risks.
One more thing: If you’re like me, you probably want to keep a backup of your images at all times in case of accidental deletions, natural disasters, or computer viruses. And while Mylio doesn’t store all of your images by default, the program makes it easy to create Vaults: backup devices that maintain copies of your original files.
To create a backup Vault, connect a (spacious!) external hard drive or computer, then make sure the Device Quality option is set to Vault:
The device will automatically maintain an updated repository of every image in your Mylio Library. And you’re not limited to just one; you can create multiple Vaults at multiple sites that automatically copy new files as they’re added to Mylio.
Image organization is Mylio’s bread and butter; there are plenty of options to satisfy both beginners and even the most serious professionals.
Once you’ve added and synced your image folders, you can scroll through them in the All Photos View or examine files by location in the Map View, but I’d recommend creating Albums, which let you categorize images by photoshoot, genre, or any other type of category you can imagine. You can easily create a new Album by selecting the New Album icon:
From there, you can create sub-Albums for more fine-grained organizing.
(Note that Albums only exist within Mylio, so changes won’t modify your hard drive folder structures. Changes to Folders in Mylio, however, will be reflected on your devices, which means you can adjust the folder structure of any Mylio-connected device, even while offline.)
You also have the option to apply flags to images by clicking the Rating and Tagging icon, then selecting the flag icon:
And you can add star ratings and labels in the same area.
Flags, ratings, and labels are an established part of most photo-organization workflows, so I was happy to see that Mylio included all three. To my mind, a combination of Albums, flags, ratings, and labels is enough to manage most photo catalogs, but I was still pleased to see a few additional organization features, including keywords and Categories, both of which allow you to associate individual photos with descriptive words for easy retrieval. Not all photographers rely on these organization methods, but for some – especially those who work with stock agencies – they’re absolutely essential. And note that any added ratings, labels, and flags can be accessed by most editing programs in addition to Mylio.
Mylio also offers two powerful ways to find and retrieve images:
The Filter bar, which lets you view images based on camera type, flags/stars/labels, Categories, and more. (There’s even an option to see images that contain specific people, courtesy of Mylio’s intelligent facial-recognition technology.)
And the Search bar, which matches search queries to image keywords, titles, places, people, etc.
You can also combine the Filter and Search option for even more efficient image retrieval. Plus, Mylio Photos uses Optical Character Recognition to read text inside your images (such as words and phrases on signs and t-shirts).
Bottom line: If you often find yourself frustratedly digging around in image folders to no avail, you’re going to love Mylio’s Filter and Search features. Not only are they simple to use, but they’re also highly effective. I managed to locate dozens of images with very little effort, and I suspect that other users will have a similarly easy time.
Speaking more broadly, Mylio’s image-organization tools are on par with – and perhaps even better than – most of the programs currently on the market. Beginners will appreciate the streamlined approach, while more advanced users will enjoy Mylio’s sophisticated options for ranking and categorizing images.
Mylio is advertised as a photo manager, not a photo editor, so I wasn’t expecting much from the editing tools. Yet while the program certainly can’t outcompete a dedicated post-processing program like, say, Photoshop, it does include plenty of useful options for enhancing your images.
To see Mylio’s editing tools, open an image, then find the Edit icon on the right-hand panel:
Once you’ve opened the Edit panel, you can select from a handful of presets, adjust the exposure, do white balancing, crop, rotate, and straighten the image, add sharpening, and even apply local adjustments using brushes.
If you’re just getting started with image editing, you may be able to get away with only editing in Mylio. And if you’re a more advanced user, you can apply some basic edits in Mylio, then use Mylio’s smooth integration with other editing programs to make more sophisticated changes.
Really, that’s the more important takeaway: Mylio makes it extremely easy to move back and forth between the manager app and a dedicated editing program. If I want to edit an image in Lightroom, for instance, I can right-click and select Open with Adobe Lightroom. And if I want to swap out a sky in Luminar Neo, I can hit Photo>Open With>Luminar Neo. Then, once I’m done, I can save the file next to the original (using the Save As command), and it’ll appear back in Mylio.
By the way: Regular Adobe users will be pleased to know that Mylio includes a plugin for ultra-smooth integration with Lightroom Classic, so managing your photos with Mylio and editing in Lightroom is surprisingly efficient.
Like many other photo-organization programs, Mylio is offered as a subscription. You can grab a standard plan – which can handle unlimited photos across unlimited devices – for $9.99 per month, or you can save by purchasing an annual subscription for $99.99. Considering the program’s power, this seems pretty reasonable, and you do get to try the program for 30 days before buying.
Interestingly, Mylio has also partnered with Seagate to offer a deal: Buy a qualified Seagate drive, and get a Mylio Create plan for free. (The free Mylio Create subscription length depends on the drive.) The Create plan does have several limitations, including syncing for up to 25,000 photos and across a maximum of 4 devices, but if your photo library is on the smaller side, then it could be a good move – and once your free plan has expired, you can renew it for $49 per year (or $4.99 per month).
Is Mylio Photos right for you?
Mylio Photos is an impressive image-management program, but is it worth purchasing? That depends – on both your preferred image-organization workflow and the size of your catalog.
If you’re a hobbyist or professional photographer with thousands of photos and you like the idea of working across devices, Mylio is a great buy. You’ll be able to organize and share photos on your desktop, laptop, phone, and more. And you can edit RAW photos directly in Mylio or choose to work in a program like Lightroom Classic or Luminar Neo.
Even beginners with small catalogs will undoubtedly appreciate the added security offered by Mylio’s syncing methods in addition to the convenient offline editing options provided by Smart Previews.
However, if you only ever organize and edit your images on a single device, Mylio’s syncing technology won’t be of much use – though I’d still recommend Mylio for its excellent photo-organization and search capabilities.
At the end of the day, Mylio Photos is an innovative program for organizing and editing your photos across multiple devices. And if you’re still on the fence, I’d highly recommend grabbing a 30-day free trial, which is available here.
Disclaimer: Mylio is a paid partner of dPS.