Cool cameras and other stuff

Is Chromebook for Photographers?

Written by Digicamhelp Editor

Acer Chromebook 13Not ready for prime time is defined as “usable, but only just so; not very robust.” I can’t think of a more appropriate description for the current Chromebook built-in applications when it comes to photographs. As of this writing, Chromebook for photographers is not an effective tool.

I didn’t have unrealistic expectations about photo editing on a Chromebook. However, I had no idea working with images offline would be so problematic. And working online can be painfully slow.

After a recent two-day trip, I copied about 300 images, averaging about 5MB each, straight from the Secure Digital card into a separate folder in the system Downloads Folder. Yes, I manually copied them from my card because they can’t transfer automatically unless one chooses to upload all of them to Google Photos. This is something I don’t want to do because I like to select my best photos and edit them before uploading to my online galleries. Sorting through hundreds of images online to select just a few is tedious and time-consuming.

Offline viewing of images on a Chromebook

Unlike my PC, using a Chromebook to to scroll through the batch of photos offline is a painful experience.

All images display horizontally in a folder on a Chromebook. An unedited, large file-sized image loads slowly until it displays correctly in the viewer, especially vertical images which look distorted. Vertical thumbnails display horizontal in a folder so the chrome viewer must rotate the actual images from horizontal to vertical position for viewing. Painfully slow.

Original image

Original image when rotated in Chromebook

In Chromebook editor

Distortions in Chromebook editor

Offline gallery viewing out of sequence

While images are numbered sequentially on a SD card, they appear by default in reverse order when transferred to the Chromebook downloads folder. The highest file number appears first. I could live with this however scrolling through them can be a nightmare, especially if you want to examine large number of photos.

For example, when I clicked on image #787 to open it and hit the Next arrow, the next image to appear was #491. Clicked on image #787 and the next image was #568. In other words, at this current time, you can not view them in the order takens


Evidently for some time now, there have been complaints about this issue by other Chromebook users. Until this issue is resolved, there is a workaround. It’s awkward but better than nothing.

  • Copy images from your camera’s SD card to a folder.
  • Open the image folder and change the switch from thumbnail view to  list view, then sort by Name.
  • Open the FIRST photo then use the keyboard arrows to scroll.

< jumps to the last image
> jumps to the 2nd image.

However, f you click on the middle of the list, > will still jump to the first picture.

To enlarge the tiny thumbnail images, press Ctrl +. Press Ctrl – to decrease thumbnail sizes.

I confess that I don’t understand why Google, the developers of the excellent photo editing and viewing softwarePicasa, hasn’t yet made a similar offline photo viewer, organizer and editor for their own Chrome Operating System.

Photo editing on a Chromebook

The built-in Chromebook editor is so simple that most serious photographers will find it frustrating. Editing with the Chromebook editor is limited to: autofix, crop, brightness, rotating an image right or left and undo.<sigh>.

There are some editors in the Chrome Store that are a few others worth considering.

Sample Chrome Photo Editors

A few of the Chromebook photo editors

Free Chromebook photo editors that work offline:

  • Polarr Photo Editor  – sophisticated image processing tools, similar to Adobe Lightroom. It can even open some RAW image files
  • Photo Editor (by dev.macgyver) – a simple and easy application for photo manipulation. Adjust color, add effects, rotate, crop, resize, frame, clone, and draw on your photos.
  • Pixlr Touch Up – very good offline editor if it’s not  “incompatible with your CPU architecture.”  Features include touch up, clone, crop, resize, rotate, adjust color, and add effects.

Free Chromebook photo editors that work only online:

  • Pixlr editor – powerful editor that has many of the features found in Photoshop and Pixlr Express (if you can stand the large ads)
  • Sumopaint – versatile, powerful photo editor and painting application – try this one if you can’t stand the ads on the Pixlr site.