Tropy Basics

Tropy is free open-source software that allows you to organize and describe photographs of research material.

What is Tropy?

Tropy is free, open-source desktop software that allows you to organize and describe photographs of research material. Once you have imported your photos into Tropy, you can combine photos into items (e.g., photos of the three pages of a letter into a single item), and group photos into lists. You can also describe the content of a photograph. Tropy uses customizable metadata templates with multiple fields for different properties of the content of your photo, for example, title, date, author, box, folder, collection, archive. You can enter information in the template for an individual photo or select multiple photos and add or edit information to them in bulk. Tropy also lets you tag photos. You can also add one or more notes to a photo; a note could be a transcription of a document. A search function lets you find material in your photos, using metadata, tags, and notes. You can export to JSON-LD, CSV, or PDF.

  • Tropy is not photo editing software (e.g., Photoshop). It offers only basic editing functions (rotate, crop, zoom, and a few others) sufficient to allow you to make the content of a photo legible. It will not make any changes to your original photos. You can save a copy of photos that you make changes to.

  • Tropy is not a citation manager (e.g., Zotero). It does not capture metadata from online catalogs or finding aids. It does not generate citations for use in word-processing software.

  • Tropy is not a web application. It exists on your desktop. Development is underway to allow collaboration on the web.

  • Tropy is not a platform for writing up your research (e.g., DEVONthink). While it does allow you to take notes attached to photos, you cannot use it to create any other kind of word-processor document.

  • Tropy is not a platform for presenting your research online (e.g., Omeka). It operates on your personal computer, not on a server. You can export your projects to JSON-LD, CSV, PDF, and Omeka S, where you can create online exhibits.

Preparing to use Tropy

Where are your photos?

The first step in using Tropy is to identify where on your computer your archival photos are stored---identify the folder and its location in your file system.

Are your photos in the format required by Tropy?

Tropy currently works with these file formats:


  • PNG

  • SVG

  • TIFF

  • GIF

  • PDF

  • JP2000

  • WEBP

  • HEIC

  • AVIF

Download Tropy.

To use Tropy, you need to download a copy of the software from the Download page at Tropy is free software; there is no cost to download or use it. Tropy is available for macOS, Windows, and Linux. Choose the version for your operating system; once Tropy has downloaded, open it and follow the prompts to install it on your computer.

Watch this quick overview of Tropy's functions.

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