“I wanted to change the way the world remembers.”
— David Vaskevitch, CEO of Mylio
The team at Mylio kindly provided me with one year of Mylio in return for my honest and unbiased review of their product. The opinions expressed here are my own. When you click the affiliate link at the end of this article and use my Mylio coupon code, a small portion of your membership signup helps support Maggie King Freelance!
If you’ve read my thoughts on keeping your digital photos stored and organized for good, you know it’s a topic I care a lot about. But even more than keeping them neat and tidy, I care about actually viewing my digital photos, and sometimes that’s a different story.
I stand by the system I laid out in that article. It’s important to have multiple, reliable backups and to still print photos every now and then. However, when you have literally thousands of photos, you don’t always remember every photo you’ve ever taken. It becomes a hassle to look through hundreds of folders trying to find the batch you’re wanting. Stuff gets buried and it stays buried.
In my search for an intuitive system that solves this problem, I crossed paths with Mylio, an up-and-coming software that’s designed to come at the issue from a slightly different angle. For the past two weeks, I’ve been trying it out. I fiddled with features, put it through some paces, and had a really enlightening talk with Mylio’s CMO, Cheryl Isen, and Mylio Customer Champion J.C. Figueroa.
Here I’ll cover the basics of Mylio, and why it stands apart from other, similar systems.
What is Mylio?
The short answer is this: Mylio is a software that keeps all of your images synced across your devices, without using the Cloud unless you want to. But you’re not here for the short answer.
Mylio is Lightroom, but not Lightroom. It’s Picasa, but not Picasa. It’s a riff on all those different photo storage options we’ve all tried and almost loved. And I feel like I finally may have found the one that strikes the right chord.
The look of Mylio is vaguely reminiscent of the Windows Phone, without the “busy” aesthetic. It marries that idea of visual navigation with a more pragmatic layout. While everything still has a home, it’s a lot easier to put your brain in “discovery mode” with Mylio than with, say, that mile-long list of your collections in Lightroom.
Who is Mylio for?
Mylio is for everyone, but everyone will use it differently. There’s an impressive lineup of features to unpack; some users may never even scratch the surface of what it’s capable of. And that’s just fine by Mylio.
When I imported photos into Mylio for the first time, I intentionally used a source that contained images spanning several years. I wanted to see how Mylio organized them without my help. I switched over to calendar view to watch the progress, and there they were. Shifting. Categorizing. Pies I had baked, little babies resting in my arms, screenshots I should have deleted ages ago. They were funny, beautiful, and just a little bit weird. They were the years of my life in a neat grid view.
It was a surprisingly emotional experience. I’d never had that response to viewing my images before, because I’d previously viewed them a few at a time in my camera roll or in folders, by file name. Customer Champion J.C. Figueroa told me that a lot of people share those feelings when he walks them through their Mylio setup.
“It’s my favorite part,” he admitted.
That moment of discovery is the very core of Mylio. Although the software is feature-rich and capable of advanced customizations, its vital mission is to make it simpler for people to access and view their photos. For that reason alone, I believe it will resonate with users of all skill levels.
How is Mylio different?
Now that we know about Mylio’s mission, let’s look at what sets it apart from similar programs:
It’s not dependent on the Cloud.
First of all, it’s a way to sync your photos across different devices without relying on the Cloud. That doesn’t mean you can’t use the Cloud, it just means you don’t necessarily have to. Mylio currently supports Amazon Drive and Google Drive. I’m hoping that as Mylio gains traction, more Cloud-based services will become available without needing a workaround.
*cough* Dropbox *cough*
It starts with what Mylio calls a vault. You choose one of your devices to act as your vault and hold all the full-resolution files, which means the device you choose needs to have a healthy store of free memory (shoot for 250GB). You’ll view compressed versions of your photos on the other devices, but it’s not a level of compression you’re likely to notice, especially with things like family photos.
A vault is different from the Cloud because the originals are stored on a physical device you own. This can be a computer, an external hard drive, a NAS…you get the idea. Whatever your vault is, it’s a device you have complete control over in a way Cloud services just can’t offer (unless, of course, you actually choose one of your Cloud services to be your vault). From what I understand, some Mylio customers even alternate vaults, syncing every few weeks before putting one into a secure location.
A vault is REALLY different from the Cloud because you don’t need an internet connection to access it. When your devices are all connected to the same network, running Mylio from your account, they will sync with one another even if they aren’t connected to the internet.
My personal favorite feature in the entire Mylio-verse:
When you shift your photos around outside of Mylio into other folders that have been added to the program, Mylio moves them within the program, as well. Lightroom has never enabled my indecisiveness that way, and I’ve always resented it.
The Mylio team is behind it all the way.
When we discussed my reaction to Mylio’s calendar view, J.C. was kind enough to screen share some of his favorite Mylio features with me. His enthusiasm was contagious as he flipped from his own underwater photography to photos of his son, to scanned images of a relative he’d never even gotten to see in person.
This March, Mylio CEO David Vaskevitch described a personal experience (below) with his own Mylio setup — among other Mylio-related things — on The Chris Voss Show.
With so much focus in digital photography on the nuts and bolts of it all — file types, megapixels, lens specs, etc. — it’s refreshing to hear from a team that still cares about the images themselves. Not just how they look, but how they make us feel, the memories they trigger.
What is the setup process like?
The beauty of getting started with Mylio is that it does all of the heavy lifting for you. The introductory sequence takes you step by step before you even get into the program. It prompts you to sync calendars, create a vault, and select what you’d like to import; all you have to do is click. Boom, boom, boom. It also gives you the freedom to skip a step and come back to it later.
When I set the Mylio app up on my mobile devices (my current iPhone and an iPad Pro) a quick walkthrough pointed out different features once I made it through those first few options. Word is that the walkthrough is in the process of an upgrade, so it may be about to get even better.
Don’t feel the need to get all your photos in there at once! It’s fine to start small. You can always add more later by going to File > Import.
Still, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t overwhelming, even as someone who works with a large volume of images on a day-to-day basis. But then, I feel overwhelmed when I reorganize a closet because there seem to be so many steps between me and my goal. So don’t let the scope of this project turn you off to its importance. Once you have everything set up, Mylio is a program that can run itself while you scroll happily down the digital equivalent of memory lane. There’s no rule that says you have to explore its more complex features in fact, versatility is one of the program’s greatest strengths.
If you’re not on solid footing with this level of technology, I’d encourage you to make a day out of it with a more tech-savvy friend. Buy them some pizza and ask a bunch of stupid questions. Have fun with it!
How can basic users get the most out of Mylio?
It’s easy to get mired in all the different types of features offered here, but users who want a basic experience from Mylio can easily find their comfort zone by sticking to simpler features that pack a big punch:
This is one of the first features Mylio will offer you during setup and it made an instant fan out of me. A long time user of Google Calendar, I’ve got events listed on there that span back to my freshman year of college. Mylio gave me the option to choose which calendars I wanted to sync, what type of events I wanted to include, and most importantly (drum roll, please) the ability to color coordinate them.
Now when I look through my photos in calendar view, events from my synced calendars show up to add context. You can see them below:
Notice when I select a month, it shows me a list of the events for that month. In this case, one of my weekly reminders to take out the trash ended up here. I don’t care about remembering that, so I’ll just click on that event in the menu and select Delete.
You can also see in the top right month up there that I have an event called “Brother-in-law’s Birthday”. On my actual calendar, or course, his real name was used. Since I knew I’d be screenshotting this to use in an article, I selected that month, clicked his birthday event, and clicked Edit Event to rename it.
All the usual suspects here: flags, stars, and color labels form the main lineup. But once again I find Mylio’s layout to be superior to anything else I’ve used. Keyboard shortcuts will serve you well here:
- Use the period key (.) to flag or unflag.
- Use the numbers 1–5 to give a star rating.
- Choose a color label with the remaining numbers: 0 for purple, 6 for red, 7 for yellow, 8 for green and 9 for blue.
Below those options, you can also choose a photo to be the Photo of the Year for the year it was taken and you can toggle Auto-Advance on and off. This will allow (or not) Mylio to move on to the next image once you choose a flag, label, or rating.
To view images by category, Click the Filter icon, then choose which filter you’d like to apply in your search. In this example, I searched for images with the purple color label.
Mylio is for everyone, but it’s not for everything. It’s not an Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom competitor when it comes to editing. It doesn’t have to be; that’s not the goal of Mylio. With memories, you’re generally not interested in whether the lighting is just right or the retouching is on point. This experience is more about emotions and connections.
However, you can make respectable edits to your photos in Mylio. When you click on a photo and select the Edit panel on the far right, you’ll see some presets to try, along with icons for different types of editing you might want to do:
From left to right, you see these icons:
- Red eye removal
- Compare before and after
- Reset edits
Of course, you have a histogram up top and when you scroll down, you’ll see some more advanced options. We’ll talk all that in an upcoming article. However, since each option is controlled by a simple slider, you may find that a little trial and error is the most effective way to tackle this.
People tend to take facial recognition for granted these days, but it never fails to amaze me (or to creep me out just a little). Mylio’s facial recognition is pretty spot on. It was able to differentiate between each of my three children’s baby photos. As their mother I can tell them apart easily, but it’s a little unreal to watch a machine accurately categorize all those chubby cheeks by owner.
You can go through and tag your images one at a time…
- Pull up any individual image.
- Click the little person icon on the toolbar at the right of your screen. Circles will appear around the faces in your image.
- Select the circle you want to tag and find the right name.
- If the right name isn’t there yet, type it into the Who is this? field.
…but I don’t recommend it. Not because of Mylio’s workflow or because of the sheer volume of faces to work your way through, but because nothing else exists for me when I am looking at my kids’ baby pictures. I spent at least two hours down that rabbit hole before I moved on to batch tagging.
Fortunately the batch tagging process is swift and simple. I found it absolutely necessary after importing thousands of family photos.
- Click People on the horizontal toolbar at the top of Mylio.
- Select the Untagged grouping of photos.
- Click the Batch Tagging icon on the right hand toolbar. (This looks like the icon you clicked for individual tagging, except this one has two people.)
You’ll now see a new menu: Faces detected in untagged people. Mylio will let you add people to tag, and it will suggest faces that look alike in groups. It’s up to you to approve Mylio’s groupings. As you can see in the image above, you approve, reject, or ignore the suggestions. If you click the checkmark below an individual image, it will automatically advance to the next one. To add a new person directly to an image, click the icon in the bottom center of that image, between the checkmark and the X.
The photos in this example are of my oldest daughter. Since Mylio was correct that all of these faces belong to her, I simply used [Shift + Click] on the first and last images in the group to select them all. Then I clicked the checkmark on the first image to approve all of them at once.
Sharing Mylio with Family
If you’ve got a robust enough plan, you can add Mylio to all of your family’s devices. That means you get all the photos everyone took at last week’s family reunion (did anyone get a picture of Aunt Ruthie? She’s not going to be around forever you know…) without having to nag at anyone. It also makes it easier to put together family photo books and just enjoy the general convenience of shared access.
Fingers crossed for an actual family-oriented plan in the future, but for now this gets the job done.
Where do I sign up?
Just hop on over to Mylio.com and click the Get Mylio button to create an account. It’s free for up to three devices and/or 25,000 photos. Mylio Premium gives you unlimited devices and unlimited photos, and throws in RAW editing capabilities for $8.33/month.
Certain Seagate Backup Plus Portable Drives come with a year subscription to Mylio Create, which supports four devices, 50,000 photos, and RAW editing. ($50/year after the first year.)
Oh, and tell ’em Maggie sent you.
Use the promo code Maggie_King to save 25% on Mylio. See you there!
What if I want to know more?
You can visit Mylio’s website to hear more about the software in their own words. The podcast I mentioned earlier is packed with interesting information as well and will really give you a feel for what the Mylio team is striving for.
You can also check out Mylio for Advanced Users, also available on Medium. I cover more of Mylio has to offer, in detail. So go have some fun with Mylio’s basic features and come back ready to dig deep.
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