ACDSee Review

ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2023
Platforms: Windows, Mac OS
Price: Free trial or $8.90/month

VERDICT: ACDsee Photo Studio Ultimate isn’t the most intuitive photo editing software, but ACDSee provides several organizational functions that are easy to use even for beginners. Picture editing capabilities are as close as possible to Lightroom and old Photoshop versions, but still aren’t at the same level.

  • Fast performance and optimization
  • Face recognition and geotagging
  • Cloud storage integration
  • Tools for skin enhancement
  • Customizable interface
  • A rather complicated interface
  • The correction tools are less effective than in Lightroom
  • No tools to fix chromatic aberration
acdsee interface

You will see a convenient, customizable interface with modules similar to those in Lightroom, basic and advanced settings for color correction and even retouching using layers and masks, as well as a handy organizer.

Summing up, ACDSee can be called one of the best photo editing software for PC. The photo editor combines color correction from Lightroom and some advanced functions from Photoshop.

However, due to its advanced features, the image editor can hardly be suitable for beginners; maybe that's the reason why it isn’t as popular as Lightroom and Photoshop. It has less training video lessons and reviews.

If you're looking for a photo organizer software that works like Lightroom but is cheaper and easier, you will definitely need to try ACDsee Ultimate 2023.

ACDsee Review: Photo Studio Ultimate Version

acdsee logo

Like Adobe, ACDSee has been on the market since the early days of digital photography. The developers are still in the process of creating their softwares, adding new tools and functions, among the recent ones is “facial recognition”.

Taking into account all the above-mentioned positive and negative features of this picture editor, I will probably place it into the list of top 10 best programs for work with photos.

ACDsee Photo Studio Ultimate 2023 Review

Like Adobe, ACDSee has been on the market since the early days of digital photography. The developers are still in the process of creating their softwares, adding new tools and functions, among the recent ones is “facial recognition”.


Taking into account all the above-mentioned positive and negative features of this picture editor, I will probably place it into the list of top 10 best programs for work with photos.

Convenient Modules

If you’ve previously used or studied Lightroom, you probably remember its separate modules. With their help, the learning curve becomes significantly simpler. Thankfully, the developers decided to continue this tendency and divided ACDsee editor into 5 main modes located in separate tabs that will be covered in this ADCsee 20 review. They are:

Manage - Management mode consists of a library of images where you can index scores, categories, labels and more. This function is quite useful since with the correct settings, you will find the right shot out of thousands in a matter of seconds.

Photos - Photos mode is similar to Manage. It allows a more comprehensive way of viewing image files on your hard drive, and you can drill down to specific day/month/year views.

View - In ACDSee, the View mode is a more detailed section where you may view images one by one along with the files of a larger size. This is a typical function for photo processing software, but it limits competition by using impressive buffering speed once again.

Develop - Here you may find the main tools for color correction of your shot: Exposure, Contrast, Saturation – along with vibrancy and clarity settings.

Edit - The edit mode may be described as “all in one”. In ACDSee Photo Studio Professional editing mode, you will find pixel-level tools such as picture retouching, watermarks and text overlay. The mode contains a long list of tools at the bottom of the left panel. This mode presents a non-destructive image editing, but with impressive complexity.

Customizable Interface

The ACD See app uses a standard 3-panel workspace with image folders on the left, the preview screen and tools in the middle, and the features on the right panel. You can pick between different UI colors: light, silver, and charcoal as well as delete/add toolbars. You may choose the color of the interface: light, silver or charcoal, remove/add the desired toolbars.

acdsee customizable interface

Besides, it supports touch gestures. It allows you to scale images in the folder. But when I tested them, I didn’t quite like the responsiveness and interaction. In this regard, touch support for Lightroom Classic is well ahead of ACDSee.

Basic RAW Editing

This mode greatly resembles Lightroom not only because of the toolset layout but also because of the ability to create and save presets. After saving certain settings, I’ve applied them to my other photos. You can create presets for both separate tools and entire images.

Tune – Large number of sliders for adjusting white balance, shadows, lighting, skin tone, split tone, and more.

Detail – This can be considered the main and only section for image retouching.

Geometry – Lens Correction, Cropping, Perspective adjustments.

Repair – Heal/Clone and Red Eye adjustment.

acdsee white balance

White Balance – Sliders for tweaking white balance turned out to be too abrupt and jumpy for some reason, so you shouldn’t put in a lot of effort. After setting the sliders, I got a strong starting point for moving onto more specific tones and color adjustments.

Fill Light - In the General section of Develop tools, there’s Highlight Enhancement and Fill Light sliders. Both of these can only be set in one direction, meaning a positive adjustment or nothing. What’s more, Fill Light encompasses a very broad range of tones, from dark ones all the way to highlights. So if you’re used to Lightroom adjustments of highlights and shadows, you’ll find it a little sensitive.

acdsee light EQ

Light EQ – is very similar to the shades/shadows and white/bright tone settings, which are included in Adobe digital photo organizers and editors. Using it is also very easy – simply select the tool and click on any part of the image. Light EQ will automatically regulate the tones – will make them brighter if you’ll click on an underexposed area, and tone down the colors if you press on a bright, intense image part.

acdsee color EQ

Color EQ – I suggest looking at the “Color EQ” tool if you’re interested in accurate color correction. It’s universal and works similarly to the HSL panel in the Lightroom. It allows you to adjust saturation, brightness, and shade of each color channel.

acdsee datail retouch

Detail – Most ACDsee reviews don’t recommend using the so-called “simple mode” in this module for professional image retouching since it offers a limited number of settings, the controls aren’t flexible, and the sliders work with a slight delay. However, if you have a simple task – like removing a pimple or some minor redness, then maybe the available functionality will be enough.

Advanced Photo Editing

acdsee advanced photo editing

The expanded image editing mode of ACDsee is available in the “Edit” module. The offered toolset is significantly larger and each tool has deeper manual settings. The base layout isn’t very convenient, all the available functions are on the left, the tools are located at the top, the layers are on the right, and the photo library is in the middle. If you’ve used Photoshop previously, then such an interface can be very unusual to you, but keep in mind that you can adjust the UI to your taste. You can move or even delete any panels according to your needs.

The photo editing mode offers a rather big number of additional, handy functions. Among them, you can find: corrective layers for color LUTs, Smart Erase, Skin Tune, Dehaze, and Grain.

acdsee frequency decomposition retouching Order Portrait Photo Retouching $5 per photo

This photo was edited in ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2023 for about 35 minutes. Looks quite nice but it can be done faster in Lightroom together with Photoshop because there are numerous tutorials that will help you.

Skin Tune - is a tool for portrait photographers. It provides three separate tabs – Smoothing, Glow and Radius. Noise removal is performed in Edit mode, and it smoothes the noise well enough, but there is no "Auto" option. There is an interesting viewing option that shows only noise, not a shot, in shades of gray. Practically the same effect may be achieved in Photoshop if you use the method of individual decomposition.

Grain – this new tools and he worked pretty poorly. But I suppose you can tinker with the sliders for Amount, Smoothing and Size to get a reasonably realistic look. There are more than 20 artistic effects. However, there are no AI filters to apply various styles. My favorite filter is probably Grain. You may apply a Grain effect to give your images a stylized look similar to the grain of an old film. The Grain tool can also be used in combination with other effects to achieve an overall vintage look. Besides, you may record your edits as actions or apply ready actions, which use grain, film styles, fading, etc. The program also supports plugins.

Automatic Removal of Unnecessary Elements in Photos

Smart Erase - tool allows you to automatically eliminate unwanted objects from the shot. You can see the same tool in Adobe Photoshop. I like that the tool takes into account the content and gives the picture a natural look, even if you remove crowds of people, clouds, phone booths, poles and more. All you need to do is select the unwanted object, and then, ACDSee automatically selects the background. If it isn’t suitable, you can always fill this area manually.

Convenient Photo Search Using Maps

ACDSee maps

One pretty impressive feature of your library organization is maps. This photo organization software provides a GPS function in files to display images on a map. This is quite an interesting and, even, convenient function. But when working with maps, I noticed some bug, flaw. The fact is that the function is incompatible with the pictures taken near the place where I clicked on the map. The program automatically picked up a place for me, and how it works, remains unclear.

Quick Photo Management with the Help of Face Recognition

ACDSee faces

One of the latest innovations of ACDSee is the “face recognition” function. As with some of the other organization features in this photo database software, it isn’t so well thought out and requires significant improvement when compared to competitors like Lightroom and PhotoDirector. By selecting a model in the shot and giving him/her a name, the program automatically finds faces in your collection. However, to see them, you need to go to the “Photo” mode, which to me is a rather inconvenient process, and then enable the “Face Detection” function on the top panel.

PicaView File Preview

acdsee picaview

PicaView is an interesting feature that doesn’t significantly affect the photo editing process but allows you to save a ton of time, which is an awesome bonus of any photo organization software. All it does is adding a new section to the right-click dropdown menu of your OS that shows a small (but high-quality) file preview and relevant EXIF data.


ACDSee imitates almost all Adobe moves and payment by subscription model is no exception. However, you may get something that Adobe has been missing for many years – a one-time payment, a product license. I can purchase a monthly subscription for $8.90 and get almost all the main programs.


The company doesn’t exclude the possibility to purchase the licensed version for just $99. It is a nice bonus, isn’t it? Yes, it greatly simplifies life. Now I don’t need to perform a mandatory monthly payment to use a particular program or function.

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Ann Young

Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a professional blogger, read more