Diffractor is designed to manage a collection of photos, videos and other files on a PC.

Diffractor indexes existing files to enable search and duplicate detection. Diffractor will spend time building the index the first time it is run. All indexed folders combined are called the collection.

Viewing and playing

Veiw and Compare

Diffractor can view and play a large number of 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.


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.

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

The presence tooltip lists the files that diffractor has located. 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.

Files and Folders

Diffractor only searches folders it has indexed. Add extra folders to the index using index options (press control-F6).

Diffractor will index files in any folder structure. However, the 'Import or Structured copy' feature allows files to be copied (or moved) into a year/date hierarchy. Many users organize photos and videos in this way.


Files on a memory card can be copied or moved to the collection using Structured copy to place them in a year/date folder structure.

  • Insert the memory card into a PC.
  • In Diffractor open the drive where the card is located.
  • Click Show items in sub folders (control-F9) to show all items on the memory card.
  • Select items you want to import.
  • Open the structured copy dialog (press F9) and copy the files onto your PC.

Don't forget to backup regularly, keep your media safe.



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. This feature is available after buying Diffractor. Google location services cost money.

When Diffractor is showing photos from Google photos locations are not supported. This is a feature of the Google Photos service to protect user privacy. Photos downloaded from the Google photos web app do contain a location.


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, the table below describes the specific metadata fields read or updated by Diffractor:

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.

Why is Diffractor a Windows Desktop App?

Modern digital devices are causing an explosion of digital media. Our research has shown many people still store their master copy of personal photos and videos on a desktop or laptop computer. Although you may view photos and watch videos on a tablet or smart-TV, it is often easier to do the heavy lifting of organizing your collection on that trusty old PC.

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. After purchasing Diffractor, a hash of the purchase email address is recorded online to enable validation.

How can Diffractor find files in a non-standard folder?

Diffractor indexes and searches a standard set of folders. You can add additional folders in index options (control-F6). More information.

I have purchased diffractor; how do I enable more index folders?

To enable purchased features: click Buy in the menu. On the buy screen, enter your email address and click verify. More detailed instructions.

If you have more questions ask on the support page.