Importing Images into a Catalog

Find out how to import images from your card reader, connected camera, flash disk or portable external drive, as well as how to import and view images already stored on your computer, external drive or network.

An overview of importing images

After choosing the option to create a Catalog, you will need to acquire - or import - images before you can to start to view them and work with them. When Capture One imports images it automatically creates a small variant file (a preview with a group of settings applied) for each image. At the same time it also creates a link or reference to where it’s stored.

You can import images files from various sources, such as a card reader or connected camera, or perhaps you’ve stored some images on a portable disk drive that you want moved. With new images like that you can get Capture One to copy those files when importing to a destination folder of your choice. From the Import To dialog of the Importer, select Choose Folder... from the Destination fly-out menu. Typically, that’s the Pictures/My Pictures (Mac/Windows) folder on your computer if you have space, or a folder on an external hard disk drive.

When you have an existing folder of images on your computer or external disk drive that you haven’t used with Capture One, you still need to "import" these images to generate the variants and create a link to them. From the Import To dialog of the Importer, select Current Location from the Destination fly-out menu. Capture One can "import" the contents of individual folders or your whole image library including sub-folders. Images aren’t copied or moved and importing will preserve the file structure, which is useful if you have a large library that you would like to maintain.

Capture One can also import images from any folder and store those images physically inside the Catalog. As images are always copied, this "managed" workflow is useful in that the original images are always available to the application for processing or exporting. However, as the Catalog should typically reside on your local drive, this option can quickly put pressure on system resources. From the Import To dialog of the Importer, select Inside Catalog from the Destination fly-out menu.

File formats you can import into a Catalog

Capture One supports a range of still-image formats and is compatible with QuickTime Player/Windows Media Player (Mac/Windows) for playback of supported movie formats and codecs. The following file types can be imported:

  • RAW (from a range of supported digital cameras)
  • DNG (from a range of supported digital cameras)
  • JPEG
  • TIFF
  • PNG
  • PSD (read only)
  • QuickTime/Windows Media Player (Mac/Windows) compatible movies and codecs (dependent on OS)
For a list of supported cameras, visit the Phase One site.

Selecting images from external media

Capture One’s importer dialog allows you to import all the images from a memory card, connected camera, flash disk or portable external drive, or you can import selected images instead.

Note that you can also import images from a connected camera if it supports the Mass storage protocol. Not all cameras support this feature, but some Nikon models do as an example.

You can choose to store source images on your computer or, preferably, store them on a dedicated external drive. In either case, Capture One will copy the images to the chosen destination folder and reference them. If you want to move the source files at a later date, move the folder from the Library. The Library will update the references to the images in their new location.

  1. Open the importer by choosing one of the following options:
    • From the main menu choose File > Import Images...
    • Click on the Import icon in the Toolbar.
    • Drag a volume or folder of images into the Capture One image browser.
    • Click on the Import icon in the browser of a new Catalog.
    • Connect your card reader to your computer.
  2. The Import Images dialog (i.e., the importer) opens. When a card reader has been connected or when a folder has been dragged into the Capture One image browser, the contents of that folder are displayed as thumbnails in the importer’s browser.
  3. If the importer’s browser isn’t displaying your images, go to the Import From tool, click on the Source fly-out menu, select Choose Folder... and navigate to the relevant folder you want to import. The images will then be shown in the browser and every image selected automatically for import. Also, make sure that the Include Subfolders check box is selected in the Import From tool. This option is useful for locating all the images on a memory card.
  4. Enable Exclude Duplicates to prevent duplication of images already imported by your current Catalog.             
  5. When you want to select specific images to import, adopt the usual shift-click to select contiguous images, or Cmd+click (Mac), Ctrl+click (Windows) to select individual images. When you want to reset the image selection, click on the background between thumbnails.
  6. When using a multi-bay card reader with two or more cards inserted, each card appears at the top of the Source fly-out menu. After downloading from the first card, select the next from the fly-out menu.
  7. In the Import To tool, make sure the Destination fly-out menu is set to Choose Folder... Note the importer remembers the last selection and, therefore, the current setting may not be suitable for your intended storage location.
  8. Navigate to either, an existing system folder, or create and name a new folder as desired on the local computer or an external disk, and click Set as Import Folder. Recently used folders appear as shortcuts.
  9. In the optional Sub Folder field, add a folder or a series of sub-folders. Select this only if you want to segregate a group of images from an existing folder of images on import, or adopt a multiple folder structure. (See below for more information.)
  10. From the Sample Path field, verify the path is pointing to the chosen folder for import.
  11. Verify the Collection text box is set to Recent Imports Only. If already set-up, you can use the other settings to sort images into existing User Collections (i.e., existing albums, or albums based on templates). (For more information, see below.)
  12. In the Space Left field, verify the capacity left on the volume, or drive is enough to store the new images.
  13. Select options for backing-up, naming images, copyright and adjustments as desired. (For more detailed information, see below.)
  14. Press Import All or Import X Images for selected images, if no further options are required. (Note you can always add adjustments later, of course, and easily add copyright info and rename files.)

Excluding duplicates

Capture One can determine if a source image or a movie file is a duplicate of another already referenced or managed by the current Catalog. You can specify the importer to ignore image duplicates when importing from folders already on your computer or external drive, for example when importing your existing image library into a Catalog, or when importing images from a memory card to your local computer or an external drive. This feature is particularly useful when importing from memory cards that haven’t been erased or formatted between use. Previously imported images remaining on the card can now be excluded from the import process, thereby preventing unnecessary duplication.

After enabling the feature in the importer dialog window, images are individually scanned in the importer’s browser prior to import. Images that match key metadata in the Catalog’s database are removed from the importer’s browser and excluded from the import. When importing a previously adjusted image with the settings file (e.g., when referencing images a second time from a folder on your computer) and the Include Existing Adjustments option is enabled in the importer, the image is considered a duplicate. Note also the import dialog can’t identify duplicate images when files have been saved in a different format.

 1. Open the import dialog window
 2. In the Import From panel, select Exclude Duplicates. This option can be left enabled for future use. 

Viewing images stored on your computer

To view and edit source images already stored on your computer you must first import them into Capture One’s database. When importing like this, Capture One is not duplicating or copying the source files but referencing them in their existing location. This procedure also applies when you’re referencing source images stored on an external drive. If you’re importing a large library of images, the rendering of individual previews for every image may take some time.

  1. Open the importer by choosing one of the following options:
    • From the main menu choose File > Import Images...
    • Click on the Import icon in the Toolbar.
    • Drag a volume or folder of images into the Capture One image browser.
    • Click on the Import icon in the browser of a new catalog
  2. The Import Images dialog (i.e., the importer) opens. When a folder has been dragged into the Capture One image browser, the contents of that folder are displayed as thumbnails in the importer’s browser.
  3. When searching for images to import, from the Import From tool, click on the Source fly-out menu and select Choose Folder... And navigate to the relevant folder you want to reference. The images will then be shown as thumbnails in the importer’s browser and every image selected automatically for import.
  4. Make sure that the Include Subfolders check box is selected in the Import From tool. Note this option should be used when maintaining a previously organized folder of images (i.e., an existing image library).  
  5. Enable Exclude Duplicates to prevent duplication of images already imported by your current Catalog.  
  6. When you want to select specific images to import, adopt the usual shift-click to select contiguous images, or Cmd+click (Mac), Ctrl+click (Windows) to select individual images. When you want to reset the image selection, click on the background between thumbnails. 
  7. In the Import To tool, select or verify the Current Location option listed in the Destination fly-out menu. This is intended for referencing image files in situ. Note the importer remembers the last selection and, therefore, the current setting may not be suitable for your intended storage location.
  8. Verify the Collection text box is set to Recent Imports Only. If already set-up, you can use the other settings to sort images into existing User Collections (i.e., existing albums, or albums based on templates). (For more information, see below.)
  9. Select options for backing-up, captioning and adjustments as desired. (For more detailed information, see below.) Note copyright and renaming options will be disabled when referencing images in their current location.
  10. Press Import All or Import XX Images for selected images, if no further options are required. (Note you can add adjustments, copyright info and rename files later.)

Importing images inside a Catalog

Although a Catalog will be typically chosen to reference folders of images, either when importing from external media or when importing folders already in place on your computer or external drive, Capture One can store the original image files physically inside a Catalog. This managed file option can be used when you want a temporary or portable Catalog to distribute or share with colleagues. You can import images from a folder on any external media or already on your computer. Original image files are duplicated, even when already located on your computer.

  1. From the Import From tool click on the Source fly-out and select the folder you want to import (from any location).
  2. Enable Exclude Duplicates to prevent duplication of images already imported by your current Catalog.
  3. In the Import To tool under Destination, verify the option Inside Catalog is selected. Note the importer remembers the last selection and, therefore, the current setting may not be suitable for your intended storage location.
  4. Warning! Image files are copied and stored physically inside the Catalog itself (not recommended when hard disk capacity is limited). Note the storage location can be changed when creating and setting up the catalog.
  5. Continue to verify or make selections for importing into albums, file naming, backing-up, copyright and adjustments, as desired.
  6. Click OK to start the import process.

Creating a folder structure on import

When downloading images from external media you can use the importer to organize those images into subfolders. This feature can be used in a number of different ways.

Firstly, it allows you to adopt an existing storage strategy if you have one, but you can use it to simply segregate a group of images from an existing folder of images or create just about any hierarchical folder structure. You can also save these folder structures as user presets and switch between them when necessary.

In addition, you can combine this with Capture One’s dynamic locations feature. By leveraging Capture One’s database access to the image metadata, the Location Sub Folder Tokens enable the importer to automatically create, organize and name folders of images when downloading. The Location Sub Folder Tokens are also available in the Export dialog, so you can semi-automate the organizing of folders when it is time to share a selection of images.

  1. Open the importer and, from the Source fly-out menu, select the images you want to import.
  2. In the Import To tool, click on the Destination fly-out menu and select Choose Folder... to set where to store the source files.
  3. Navigate to either an existing system folder, or create and name a new folder on the local computer or an external disk, as desired, and click Set as Import Folder. Recently used folders appear as shortcuts. When selected, the Sub Folder field is revealed. Note this option is unavailable when selecting Inside Catalog or Current Location.
  4. To create a single subfolder, add a descriptive name in the Sub Folder text field, and move to step 9.
  5. To create and organize images in multiple sub-folders based on metadata, click on the () icon next to the Sub Folder text field to open the Location Sub Folder Tokens dialog and select the appropriate tokens available in the list.
  6. Text and tokens may be used together in the Sub Folder text field or the dialog’s Format text box. 
  7. When creating hierarchical sub-folders, add a forward/backward slash (Mac/Windows) without spaces in between each new folder name or token used. Each forward/backward slash adds a subfolder to the preceding text entry or token. (Folder structures created in the Location Sub Folder Tokens dialog can be saved as a user preset. Click on Save User Preset…. Add a name and select Save.)
  8. When using the Location Sub Folder Tokens dialog, remember to click OK to accept the naming/folder-structure format.
  9. In the Sample Path field, verify the path is pointing to the chosen folder for import.
  10. Continue with options for backing-up, file-naming copyright and adjustments, as desired.

Adding images to a Collection on import

You can choose to have Capture One import images into a previously created Album or Capture Collection (an Album set up as a Capture Collection) in your Catalog. Albums are a useful option to have when you want to organize images in a different way without disrupting your existing storage strategy. As Albums are virtual folders, images aren’t copied or moved but merely referenced in their destination folder. Therefore, this option is available when importing from external media, when referencing images already stored on your computer or external drive, or when importing images inside a Catalog as managed files.

  1. Before importing, head to the Library and select the appropriate Capture Collection or Album. The chosen album will be highlighted in orange initially, then silver-gray.
  2. Open the importer and select the options in the Import From and Import To tools as appropriate to your intended workflow.
  3. From the Collection fly-out select from either: 
    • Capture Collection - select this to add imported images to the current capture collection (i.e., an album previously setup as a capture collection, denoted by a small camera icon.)
    • Selected Album - choose this to add imported images to an existing album. This option only works with albums (i.e., not projects or smart albums).
  4. The Recent Imports Only option should be selected when you no longer want to use this feature.

Backing up images on import

A simultaneous copy of the imported images can be chosen from the Backup To tool in the importer. For example, importing images from a memory card can be downloaded (i.e. copied) to the Pictures/My Pictures (Mac/Windows) folder on your laptop, and simultaneously backed up (i.e., copied again) to a connected portable external drive.

Warning! While this is a useful option for a temporary backup, it should not replace your principal backup strategy.

  1. In the Backup To dialog, select the Backup Enabled option.
  2. From the Location fly-out menu, choose Select folder… and navigate to your chosen location, such as an external drive, ideally, and select either an existing folder or create and name a new folder from the dialog.
  3. Images will be duplicated to the selected backup folder on import.

Renaming images draft

When left to the default setting, with the Image Name token in the Format field of the Naming tool, Capture One will leave the original file names unchanged. However, you can rename the images using text or tokens, or any combination of the two. There is a wide range of naming tokens available, organized by type for easy reference, and there are a number of built-in presets for commonly used naming conventions. You can easily create your own presets as well. Note when importing images already stored on your computer or external drive and referencing them in their original location (i.e., not moving them), the Naming dialog is disabled. For more information on naming and renaming, see File Naming.

  1. Go to the Naming dialog.
  2. In the Format field, verify previous image naming entries (Capture One adopts the last used, and this may not be relevant this time). To maintain the original image file names only, verify that the Image Name token is in place.
  3. To rename images, add text or combination of text and tokens in the Format field. (If you know the token names already, start typing in the Format field to reveal a list and select the relevant name.) Alternatively, click on the adjacent action button (... icon) to choose from the range of tokens. The Naming Format dialog window opens.
  4. Select the desired naming choice by dragging or double-clicking on the tokens in the flat list, or select from the organized Group list, or a built-in combination from the Presets fly-out menu. Any combination of text and tokens can be saved as a user preset.
  5. When the Job Name token is selected, the Job Name field in the Naming tool becomes active. Use this option to add a relevant name, such as the job's name, your name, or the company name, for example.
  6. Click OK to accept the changes. The Naming Format dialog closes and adds the chosen combination to the Naming tool's Format field.
  7. Add text in the Job Name field, see step 5.
  8. In the Sample field, verify that name is in the desired format.
  9. After pressing Import or Import All, any changes made will be applied to the images as they're imported.

Adding copyright and a description on import

Use the Metadata tool to fill in copyright information and a description or caption, if desired. The tool remembers data, so adding copyright information doesn’t have to be re-entered for each import. You can leave both fields blank if you’re unsure how the images will be used as both can be added after import.

Add adjustments on import

You can add image adjustments when importing from external media. It is limited to the automatic adjustments found in the main toolbar, but you can also apply styles and presets which can be extensive. You can also use this to apply certain keywords, if they’ve been saved previously as a user preset. When referencing images that have been worked on previously in Capture One, the Include Existing Adjustments option should be selected so that any previously made adjustments and settings can be applied. It can be left permanently selected, just in case.

  1. In the Adjustments tool, check mark the Auto Adjust option to apply on import the automatic adjustments selected from the Toolbar. (Note this option may slow down the import process.)
  2. Presets and/or styles can also be applied to images during import. Select the relevant options from the Styles fly-out menu.
  3. Select the Include Existing Adjustments check box if you are importing RAW files that have already been worked on in Capture One. This option imports and applies all adjustments and settings (i.e., ratings, keywords, copyright info, and any other metadata) associated with each image file.
  4. Selected adjustments will be applied on import.

Sorting images prior to import

Images can be sorted by a variety of criteria, and selected individually.

  1. Click on the sort-menu field, top-left of the browser window and choose an option from the fly-out menu.
  2. Click on the arrow to change the sorting orientation.
  3. Thumbnails can resized using the slider opposite the sort-menu field, located top right.
  4. When you want to choose individual images to import, shift-click to select adjacent images. To select non-adjacent images, Cmd+click (Mac), Ctrl+click (Windows) (clicking on single images will reveal data in the File Info panel, after clicking on the disclosure button).
  5. When you want to reset the image selection, click on the background between the thumbnails. 

Importer options

As Capture One allows you to continue working while images are imported in the background, the importer offers some useful additional options. This includes notifications during the importing process, as well as erasing the images from the card after copying and ejecting the card from the Finder/Explorer.

  • From the Import Collection fly-out, select Notify When Done if you want to be notified of the completed import, or leave the default Open Collection When Import Starts to start work on the files. If you want to continue to work without distraction, select Never Open Import Collection.
  • Options to Eject Card and/or Erase Images After Copying are also available.