One approach to super-resolution fluorescence imaging uses sequential activation and localization of individual fluorophores to achieve high spatial resolution. Essential to this technique is the choice of fluorescent probes; the properties of the probes, including photons per switching event, on-off duty cycle, photostability and number of switching cycles, largely dictate the quality of super-resolution images. Although many probes have been reported, a systematic characterization of the properties of these probes and their impact on super-resolution image quality has been described in only a few cases. Here we quantitatively characterized the switching properties of 26 organic dyes and directly related these properties to the quality of super-resolution images. This analysis provides guidelines for characterization of super-resolution probes and a resource for selecting probes based on performance. Our evaluation identified several photoswitchable dyes with good to excellent performance in four independent spectral ranges, with which we demonstrated low-cross-talk, four-color super-resolution imaging.