New App for Storing Genealogy Documents: Tropy

by , under Archive, Digital Images, Scanning

I am gearing up to digitize my family history archival materials, including scans of documents, as well as scans of photo prints, digital photos, and even videos. I have acquired a copy of Denise May Levernick’s book, How to Archive Family Photos: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize and Share Your Photos Digitally. I purchased my copy from, but you can also order it from the publisher Family Tree Magazine at

She makes the case that each type of digitized image mentioned above should have its own filing system suited to the particulars of the medium and file naming.

For documents, I will be considering a new FREE application announced today by Dick Eastman in his Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter under the heading: “Tropy: A New App that Helps Create Order out of Research Disorder.” This application is designed to organize scans of documents in jpeg, png, and SVG formats. While Levernick states it is preferable to scan historic photos in the TIF format to prevent losses during editing, she maintains jpeg is adequate for capturing and retaining documents in digital form. Even when you edit document jpegs, there typically isn’t enough loss to degrade the images.

Note: I haven’t worked with SVG files. In fact, I had to research this format. If you want to learn more, go here to read about “Scalable Vector Graphics” in also has an article about Tropy at

The following is copied from the Tropy website at

What is Tropy?
Tropy is free, open-source 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.

  • Tropy is not photo editing software (e.g., Photoshop). It offers only basic editing functions (rotate, crop, zoom) sufficient to allow you to make the content of a photo legible.
  • 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 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 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.

Preparing to use Tropy
Where are your photos?
To organize and describe your photos, you need to import them into Tropy. The first step in using Tropy is to identify where on your computer those photos are stored—identify the folder and how to get to it from your desktop.

Are your photos in the format required by Tropy?
Tropy currently works with these file formats:

It does not work with image files such as .tiff or .gif. You may need to convert your photos to JPG in order to use Tropy.

Tropy also does not work with any non-image format files such as PDF. There are many online conversion tools to create JPGs from your PDFs or other image files.

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.

I think that Tropy might be just what I need to assemble my genealogy documents and source material in one place for relatively easy retrieval.

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