Diffractor is designed to manage a collection of photos and videos on your PC.

It can view and search any files, but the collection has extra features such as duplicate detection, fast search and presence. The collection is indexed to support these features.

Your collection is simply defined as the contents of one or more folders. Use the collection options screen to specify which folders. (press CONTROL F6)

For example: All my family photos and videos make up my collection. It is split over a few different folders.

Read more about organizing your collection.

Viewing and playing

Diffractor can view and play many file formats and codecs.

  • ENTER opens a photo or video full screen.
  • SPACE stops or starts playing a video/audio file or a photo slideshow.
  • ESCAPE gets you out of full screen or other modes.
  • LEFT or RIGHT moves to the next or previous item.
  • CONTROL LEFT or RIGHT extends the current item selection and allow comparing of items.
Viewing and playing


Diffractor calculates the presence of files in the collection. The presence indicates if a file exists or is duplicated in the collection. It also indicates if an item has sidecars.

Sidecars are extra files associated with a media item – for example XMP metadata or subtitles.

The presence tooltip lists the files that diffractor has detected. Duplicates in red and sidecars in green.

Presence also works for files outside the collection. Use it to check if files on an old memory card are missing from the collection. Simply open the memory card and group files by presence. Files can:

  • Have similar or duplicate files in the collection.
  • Have a newer or older version the collection.
  • NOT be in the collection.
In collection

Folders Structure

The Import (F9) feature allows files to be copied (or moved) into a year/date hierarchy. Many users organize photos and videos in this way.

Import also supports other folder structures and has an analysis mode that can determine where files will be coped to.



Diffractor's address bar accepts folder names and search queries.

It searches folders in the collection by default. Other folders can also be searched by including a folder name in the search text.

  • London searches the collection for items tagged with London, having London in their description or Located in London.
  • c:\photos c:\videos London searches only the 'c:\photos' and 'c:\videos' folders.

Add extra folders to the collection by using collection options (press CONTROL F6). Folders can also be excluded from searches using a minus. For example: “-c:\photos\secret” would exclude that folder. Collection folders can also be Volume labels. Volume labels can be useful for removable hard drives where drive letters change.

Folders and files

In the address bar, one or more folders can be specified in a search, for example D:\Users\Zac\Pictures\2015. This would only show items from that folder. D:\Users\Zac\Pictures\2015\*.jpg would only show jpg files in that folder.

All items in subfolders can be shown by using the flatten operator **, for example D:\Users\Zac\Pictures\2015\**

Filter by media type using the @Video, @Audio or @Photo keywords, for example:
D:\Users\Zac\Pictures @Photo only shows photos in that folder.
D:\Users\Zac\Pictures @Photo or @Video shows photos or videos.


May searches for all items from the month May in any year. May 2010 shows all the photos from May 2010. 2010 shows items from the year 2010. Year:2010 shows items with their year property set to 2010, the year property may not by the same as the created date.


#London searches for items tagged with London in collection folders. # is used as a tag operator. D:\Users\Zac\Pictures #London searches a single folder for London pictures.

#London #Fireworks shows items tagged both London and Fireworks.
#London -#Fireworks shows items tagged London but without fireworks.
#London or #Fireworks shows items tagged with London or Fireworks.

Metadata Properties

Exposure:1/60 shows items with a 1/60th exposure. ‘Exposure’ here defines a search property scope where you search for a specific type of property. Common property scopes are FNumber, FocalLength, Camera, City etc.

Camera:'Canon EOS 7D' searches for photos taken with a 7D camera. Note the quotes to group text. Another example for an album artist is AlbumArtist:'The Levellers'

Missing Metadata

Use with or without scopes to find items with or without a property. For example without:tag will find all items without tag. with:tag will find all items with tags.


The @duplicates filter will show items that have duplicates. It can be used on its own or combined in a search. Duplicate detection is based on comparing item metadate and thumbnails. Diffractor will not detect all duplicates until all items have had a thumbnail generated. Thumbnails are generated on demand when an item is shown in a search result.



Diffractor makes it easy to add an approximate location, normally the closest town, to photos or videos. Diffractor contains a database of common locations that can added or searched for. If a photo or video already contains GPS information Diffractor will detect its town, city and country.

  • L to add a location to the currently selected items.
  • F3 to search for files in a location. Just type in the name of the town or country.

Not all locations are in Diffractors database. Diffractor can also use Google to find other locations.


Metadata is information related to a media file. It may be embedded into the file or contained in a separate associated file.

Diffractor can add or update metadata such as tags, rating, description or location. It can also understand metadata added by a camera. Diffractor has a database to cache these values for faster searching. However, the values are primarily stored in metadata to allow compatibility with other programs.

Where is metadata stored?

Jpeg, Tiff, Png and Gif files have internal EXIF, IPTC and XMP metadata extensions. Raw photos have a separate XMP file similar to Adobe products. MOV, MP4 and MP3 files have standard tags and also include an XMP block. MKV files contain an XMP block, this is not very standard and we plan to support Matroska tags in a future version. AVI files contain an XMP block.

For advanced users, there is a detailed list of supported metadata fields on Github

Formats and Codecs

File formats and codecs supported by Diffractor are listed below:

Video Encoding Formats

  • MP4 - mp4, m4a, m4v, f4v, f4a, m4b, m4r, f4b, mov
  • 3GP - 3gp, 3gp2, 3g2, 3gpp, 3gpp2
  • OGG - ogg, oga, ogv, ogx
  • WMV - wmv, wma, asf
  • WEBM
  • FLV
  • AVI
  • QuickTime
  • HDV
  • MXF - OP1a, OP-Atom
  • MPEG-TS - ts
  • MPEG-2 PS, MPEG-2 TS
  • WAV, Broadcast WAV
  • LXF, GXF
  • VOB

Audio Formats

  • MP3
  • AAC
  • HE-AAC
  • AC3 - Dolby Digital
  • EAC3 - Dolby Digital Plus
  • Vorbis
  • WMA
  • PCM

Video Codecs

  • H.263
  • H.264
  • HEVC
  • MPEG4
  • Theora
  • 3GP
  • Windows Media 8
  • Quicktime
  • MPEG-4
  • VP8
  • VP6
  • MPEG1
  • MPEG2
  • MPEG-4

Standard Image File Formats

  • BMP - bitmap image file
  • GIF - Graphics Interchange Format
  • JPG/JPEG - Joint Photographic Experts Group.
  • PNG - Portable Network Graphics
  • PSD - Photoshop image.
  • TIFF - Tagged Image File
  • WEBP - Google Web Photo

Raw photo file formats

  • 3FR - Hasselblad
  • ARW - Sony Alpha devices
  • BAY - Casio
  • BMQ - NuCore
  • CINe - Phantom
  • CRW, CR2, CR3 - Canon
  • CS1 - Capture Shop
  • DC2 - Kodak DC25
  • DCR - Kodak
  • DNG - Adobe Digital Negative
  • ERF - Epson
  • FFF - Imacon
  • HDR - Leaf
  • IA - Sinar
  • K25 - Kodak DC25
  • KC2 - Kodak DCS200
  • KDC - Kodak
  • MDC - Minolta RD175
  • MEF - Mamiya
  • MOS - Mamiya
  • MRW - Minolta
  • NEF, NRW - Nikon
  • ORF - Olympus
  • PEF - Pentax
  • PXN - Logitech
  • QTK - Apple Quicktake 100/150
  • RAF - Fuji
  • RAW - Panasonic
  • RDC - Digital Foto Maker
  • RW2 - Panasonic LX3
  • RWL - Leica
  • SR2 - Sony
  • SRF - Sony DSC-F828 or DSC-R1
  • SRW - Samnsung
  • STI - Sinar Capture Shop
  • X3F - Sigma devices based on Foveon X3 direct image sensor.

Frequently asked questions

Supported Operating Systems?

Diffractor is runs on Windows 7, 8 and 10.

Sorry Mac and Linux users. We are a small team and don’t have the resources to support more operating systems at this time. One benefit is that Diffractor is highly optimised for Windows.

Diffractor keeps crashing

Diffractor has been known to have problems with non-standard files during indexing. This can cause a crash. The -no-indexing command line option can be used to turn indexing off.

Performance is boosted by using Direct3d but this makes Diffractor susceptible to graphics driver problems. The -no-gpu command line option can be used to disable usage of Direct3d.

Is Diffractor a media player?

Diffractor is designed to help organize photos and videos. The goal is to be the fastest way to edit and search photo metadata. Diffractor will play or view most types of media however it misses some media player features; for example no support for subtitles.

Where is metadata stored?

Diffractor can add or update metadata such as tags, rating, description or location. It can also understand metadata added by a camera. See metadata for more information.

Diffractor fails to update my file?

Diffractor needs to be conservative when updating metadata in media files. If it finds anything non-standard or corruption it will report an error. This is the safest way to avoid corruption of important files. Feel free to report problems with updating files.

Does Diffractor perform lossless transformations?

When rotating a jpeg by a factor of 90 degrees Diffractor will perform a lossless transform.

Is Diffractor safe?

The Diffractor project does not collect personal information about users. Diffractor does contact a server daily to check for updates, this can be disabled in options.