Finding Your Images

July 16, 2018

Now that we’ve got the hang of which modes do what, it’s time to take a closer look at how you can find your files when you need them. Yes, we are talking searching. And we’re back in Manage mode.

You will observe, above the File List pane, there’s an area called the Quick Search bar. You can use this simple bar to search for files in a variety of ways. The results will appear in the File List pane.


Search Bar

General Search:

Enter any word or number into the Quick Search bar, and ACDSee will search for matches in the following database fields:

  • File name
  • Categories
  • Description
  • Author
  • Notes
  • Keywords

And it will also search in these IPTC fields:

  • Keywords
  • Description
  • Creator
  • Headline
  • Special Instructions


Metadata Search:

From the Organize or Properties pane, select metadata and drag it into the Quick Search box.


Drag metadata

Uh, what?

Yes. For example, search for images with a red color label by dragging the Red label from the Labels section of the Organize pane.




Find images rated 3 by dragging the 3 to the Quick Search bar from the Ratings section of the Organize pane.




To narrow down your search using multiple metadata terms, you can drag more than one into the Quick Search bar. If you enter two of the same type, like two categories, for instance, ACDSee will perform an “OR” search. This means that it will search for Category A or Category B.




However, if you add another different type of metadata term—let’s say a rating of 4—it will perform an “AND” search with that addition. This means ACDSee will be searching for photos assigned to Category A or Category B and Rating 4.




However, if you wanted to make an “OR” search out of that last divergent metadata, you could do so by holding down CTRL while dragging it. In this example, you would hold down CTRL while dragging the 4: Category A or Category B or Rating 4.




So “AND”, “OR”, or “NOT” can make your searching a lot more specific. Yes, I haven’t explained “NOT” yet. I’m getting there. Let’s look at it more in depth:

Use “AND” to search for all items containing both the search term before and after the “AND”. Search results that only contain one of the two won’t show up. So, if you search for “eggs and toast”, an item with only “eggs” won’t be returned in your results. Pro tip: Spaces between words will also be treated as though you put “AND” between them. And no, you don’t need to type it in caps. I just feel like yelling some words.




Use “OR” to search for all items containing one or the other of the two search elements. When you search for two search terms of the same type, (e.g. “Rating”:”4″, “Rating”:”5″), “OR” will automatically be added between them, since an image cannot be two ratings at once. All of this applies regardless as to whether you are dragging metadata or entering text or numbers.


Search Type


However, if you hold down CTRL while adding two different types of search terms to the Quick Search bar, “OR” will be added, (e.g. “Rating”:”4″ OR “category”:”Friends”). So “bacon or sausages” would return bacon or sausages, but not bacon_sausages.


Search via control


Use “NOT” to exclude words from your search. So, “pancakes not waffles” would return pancakes only.


Not Search


You can use * as a wildcard in your search queries. For example, if you search for “ac*e”, ACDSee will match “ace”, “acdsee”, “sacred”, etc.

To simply view all image files, click Image Well in the Special Items section of the Organize pane.


Image Well


And now to really confuse you. When you use quotation marks, the search operators become literal values. So if you entered “champagne and oj”, the search is going to return items that literally had both words and the “and” in “champagne and oj”.

Search Menu

Let’s familiarize you with the options in the Search menu. At the left of the Quick Search box, you will see a small drop-down arrow next to the search icon.  In the menu, the first items will be your five most recent searches.


Recent Search


You can use Clear Recent to clean this out.


Clear recent search


You can expedite your future explorations by saving searches. With the search criteria you will want to reuse, click the Search menu, then click Saved Searches | Save… from the menu.


Saved searches


Choose a name for your search that you’ll remember, and press Save.


Save name


Now the search will be available on the Search menu under Saved Searches | [name of your search].


Saved search


You can fine-tune your searches using a few more settings. For instance, from the Search menu, you can choose Case Sensitive, which will display the matching text based precisely on which letters you capitalized versus left lower case. You can opt to only return exactly that which matches what you enter in the Quick Search field. Choose Exact Matches Only from the Search menu.


Specific search

Where Can You Search?

To simply search computer-wide, you can use the Spotlight Search. Ordinarily ACDSee searches using the database. However, you can switch to search your whole hard drive by choosing Spotlight Search in the Search menu. On the other hand, you can search within the selected folder only. This is whatever folder you’re messing around in within the File List pane. That is also under the Search menu.


Spotlight search


I hope that makes finding your images a little easier. Happy searching!




  • Federico Calzolari

    Is this “drag-and-drop” feature only available for the Mac version of the program?
    I can’t use it in the PC version of ACDSee.
    It would be very useful a tutorial on the different search methods available in ACDSee for PC.



  • Doug Davis

    I have a folder that contains 14 files with “gargoyle” in the file name. I can see all 14 when searching in Windows Explorer. But when I search in ACDSee it only returns 3 files. I want to start adding metadata to my photos by searching on their names, but the search doesn’t seem to work. Can you help? The screens on this tutorial don’t exactly match my 2019 Windows version. So not much help with my question. Thanks.

    • Chu Lee

      me too, thousands images, only find hundreds. if checked “image only”, I found zero image in 2019

  • Hiro Adrian

    Hi, is it possible to search metadata date based on certain year? If using the method explained above, it seems that the drag and drop method can only search for the specific date selected and cannot specify by year.

  • I found that Windows version is has less function then Mac version. Most worse quick search, only 5 color lebel and much more. So the ACDSee 2019 is the last that I’ve bought, now I’m stat switching to another images files software manager. From several last version I can’t see any useful improvements. From ages you can not even simple export settings from older version and import to another computer.

  • Irene Rapold

    General Search:Enter any word or number into the Quick Search bar, and ACDSee will search for matches in the following database fields
    Not really what I get. Searching for an expression in a filename: no results, except when it starts with the expression. Wildcard *? No success either. If anyone can help, I am glad.

Most Recent Posts