An Overview of Sessions

Before starting work on your images, find out how Sessions can be used in your workflow, and how they differ from using a Catalog.

Introduction to Sessions

Use the Sessions function to organize all your work and any client project. Sessions enables you to store all files as a complete project that includes RAW files, setting files, library files, output files and paths to drives used in a project. For quick access and fast loading of folders you can create favorite folders for the locations used in a particular project.

Sessions are especially useful when you are shooting tethered. Simply create a tethered Session, plug in the camera and capture images directly to Capture One. This saves time compared to importing images after a shoot. Shooting tethered in Capture One can also help you get superior control. A shoot can be scrutinized as it happens, to help you fine-tune image parameters.

Opening a Session

After opening Capture One for the first time you will have created either a Catalog or Session in the process. If you created a Catalog when setting-up, and now want to switch and adopt the more project-oriented workflow of a Session, you will need to create a new Session (see below for more details). If you previously created a Session and want to continue working on the project, you can choose one of four ways to open it:

  1. Choose File > Open. Navigate to the Session file and open Sessionname.cosessiondb.
  2. Choose File > Open Recent. Choose a Session from the drop down menu. (This menu displays up to ten previously opened Sessions/Catalogs).
  3. Drag and drop the Sessionname.cosessiondb file on to the Capture One icon located in your Dock (Mac only).
  4. Double click on the Sessionname.cosessiondb file and it will automatically open in Capture One.

Choose File > Open. Navigate to the Session file and open Sessionname.cosessiondb.

Video tutorial: Sessions

Learn about the benefits of using Sessions in this in-depth video tutorial. (Click on the image to the right). Discover how to create, build and structure Sessions.

“Sessions” are a unique but simple file management option in Capture One.

Creating a new Session

  1. Select File > New Session. (Alternatively, go to the Library Tool Tab and press the + icon located next to the Switch Session/Catalog menu).  
  2. Name the Session, using a meaningful name.
  3. Choose a Template if set-up (or leave as Blank).
  4. Rename Session Sub-folders if desired.
  5. Decide on the location of the Session folder. If left to the default, the Session database file and Session Sub-folders are created and saved to the Pictures/My Pictures (macOS/Windows) folder.
  6. To change location, click on the action button (...) icon. A system window opens. Navigate to a new location and select Choose, or select New Folder, choose a name and select Create, and then select Choose.
  7. Press OK to create the new Session, or Cancel to dismiss the dialog and start over.

Find out more about creating a Session Template.

Select File > New Session. (Alternatively, go to the Library Tool Tab and press the + icon located next to the Switch Session/Catalog menu).

Adopting a file system based workflow

Sessions are convenient for professional photographers due to their default modular folder structure (consisting of Capture, Selects, Output and Trash sub-folders, and a separate Session database file). This makes them particularly well suited when working with a tethered camera in a studio, but they're also ideal for more typical day-to-day projects, where importing images from a memory card is expected. However, if you don’t want to create a Session for each occasion and would prefer not to adopt a more managed Catalog-based workflow, you can use a single Session for a typical file system workflow instead.

Sessions work differently to Catalogs in that they automatically generate and store image cache and settings locally. These files are stored in a CaptureOne sub-folder within the source images' folder. You don't even have to import images using a Session, you can continue to use your existing workflow. Simply navigate to your image folders using the Session Library instead, and the images will be displayed just as they would when using a Catalog or a typical Session. Any adjustments made are written to the local settings files and are used the next time you visit the image folder.

When the time comes to move the image folders, the accompanying Session database file of a typical Session isn't even necessary. Providing the CaptureOne sub-folder remains within the source images' folder, it can be moved to any location and viewed on any local computer running Capture One. Note that, using a Session this way will result in a loss of some search capability and will limit the effectiveness of favorites and albums.

  1. Create a new single Session using a descriptive name (e.g., Image Library).
  2. From the Library panel, go to the Sessions Folders collection and navigate to your existing folders of images.
  3. Click-on a folder of images to display them. Thumbnails will be displayed in the browser.
  4. Click-on an image in the browser to display the image in the viewer.
  5. Continue using Capture One to make adjustments as normal. 


You can use a single Session for a typical file system workflow