Create and utilize a catalog in Capture One Pro 8


A catalog is the primary method of file organization and viewing in Capture One Pro 8. A catalog contains all the information needed for Capture One Pro 8 to find and display any image added to the catalog. The location of the actual image files can be on any disc location but can also be placed inside the catalog file. Image files and are located and accessed in the Library tool. Image files need to be imported into a catalog. It is also possible to shoot directly into a catalog from a supported tethered camera.

Find out more about catalog strategies.

A catalog is the primary method of file organization and viewing in Capture One Pro

Video tutorial: Catalogs

Learn about catalogs in this in depth video tutorial. (Click on the image to the right). Discover how to create, build and structure catalogs.

Create a Catalog

  1. Select File>New Catalog... Or use keyboard shortcut Shift+Cmd+N.
  2. A dialog box will appear. Fill in the Name field and select a Location for the catalog.

Create New Mulitple Catalogs

Import images into a catalog

There are three ways to import images into a catalog in Capture One:

  1. Import is the normal procedure. Press the import icon (arrow icon in middle or the top left of the user interface) or go to File>Import Images… Find out about the Import dialog box here.
  2. Shoot from a supported DSLR or digital back – Images will go to the active Catalog by default or it is possible to choose a location.
  3. Import a Media Pro or Expression Media Catalog, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalog or Apple Aperture Library. Go to File>Import Catalog and choose the appropriate option.
    Please note that there are certain limitations to what Capture One is able to import from other application.

Import Images From Memory Cards and Folders

Import and name files into a catalog

  1. Select File>New Catalog... (Give the catalog a name). An Import Images dialog box will appear.
  2. Choose the Location from where you want to Import Images (e.g. from a memory card or folder on your computer hard drive).
  3. Go to the Name tab and press the option box next to the Format field. (The box with three dots. It will turn orange once selected).
  4. You can either select one of the options in the Presets drop down menu or drag and drop one or more of the Tokens into the Format field.
  5. Once you have chosen your naming format, press OK.
  6. Add copyright information and a description, if desired.
  7. Check mark the Include Existing Adjustments if you are importing RAW files that have already been worked on in earlier versions of Capture One. Automatic backups can also be set by check marking Backup Enabled and setting a location.
  8. Next, press Import All at the bottom of the dialog box. You can continue working while images are imported in the background.

Synchronize a Folder

After importing images as referenced files into a catalog from a folder on a drive, the Synchronize Folder feature may be used to import additional images. This is useful when importing certain sets of images or if additional images have been added to a folder after importing and the catalog requires updating. Deleted images may also be removed from the catalog during this process.

  1. From the Library Tool Tab, select the Folder that requires updating.
  2. Go to the main menu and select Synchronize Folder… 
  3. Check mark the relevant boxes in the Synchronize prompt and press the Sync button. A new Import window opens.
  4. Select the images as required to add to the Folder, and check-mark the options for renaming, backing up and adding styles, as appropriate.

Update Folders with New Images

Exporting and Importing Catalogs Pro

Capture One Pro 8 now offers users the option to Export and Import Catalogs. Rather than switching between multiple catalogs, importing earlier sets and creating one ‘Master’ catalog may simplify workflow and improve search queries. 

Also, this new functionality is useful when, for example, you want to send a sub-catalog with images off to the retoucher and then later re-introduce the variants to an existing ‘master’ catalog.

The flexibility of importing and exporting of catalogs will also be popular with location photographers. For example, catalogs complete with the photos and adjustments created on a laptop may easily be transferred to a desktop computer back in the studio, or at home.

Capture One Pro 8 now offers users the option to Export and Import Catalogs. Rather than switching between multiple catalogs, importing earlier sets and creating one ‘Master’ catalog may simplify workflow and improve search queries

Export a Catalog Pro

Any Catalog Collection, Folder or User Collection (Album, Smart Album, Group or Project) in a catalog may be exported as a new separate catalog, which may be shared and worked on by colleagues.

  1. From the Library tool, under Catalog Collections, User Collections or Folders, select the folder to be exported as a catalog. If certain images from one or more folders are required to be exported, create a dedicated album.
  2. Right-click (Windows) or control-click (Mac OS) the relevant folder or album and select Export as Catalog… Alternatively, select the folder or album and from the main menu, select File> Export as Catalog…
  3. From the dialog box, specify a name for the catalog to be exported.  Select a destination, and check mark the Include Originals box to add the image files, if required. Selecting this option will make a copy of the original image files and place them inside the catalog.

Depending on your chosen workflow, this option may be useful when sending files off to a retoucher or to the studio (particularly if all of the editing features of Capture One are required such as high magnification zooming, lens corrections and of course, processing).

Note: Including the original images as managed files when exporting will increase the size of the catalog proportionately.

Any Catalog Collection, Folder or User Collection (Album, Smart Album, Group or Project) in a catalog may be exported as a new separate catalog, which may be shared and worked on by colleagues

Import a Catalog Pro

To import a catalog from Capture One.

  1. Open Capture One Pro 8 and from the main menu choose File > Import Catalog > Capture One Catalog…
  2. Navigate to the Catalog (<name>.cocatalog), select and click Import, or, optionally, double-click on the catalog file to imported.
  3. If the ‘master’ catalog already contains one or more of the variants in the catalog to be imported, a dialog box will ask you to choose which variants you would like to keep. Choose between Stop, All, Existing and Imported. Check mark the box to apply the choice to all the variants.

Imported catalogs are duplicated and merged with the current open ‘master’ catalog. Note, originals or ‘managed’ files are not imported and remain inside the (exported) catalog package. Any duplicated variants in the imported catalog will be referenced to the initial originals. The catalog is imported in the background, so that you may continue to work uninterrupted.

1.	Open Capture One Pro 8 and from the main menu choose File > Import Catalog > Capture One Pro Catalog…

Import a Sessions Folder Pro

In addition to merging catalogs, it is also possible to import Sessions into master Catalogs. Child collections will be imported as Projects with Session Folders, Albums and Projects preserved as individual Albums. Image files are referenced.

  1. From the main menu, choose File > Import Session…
  2. Navigate to the Session folder (<name>.cosessiondb) and select Import, or, optionally, double-click on the Sessions folder to be imported.

In addition to merging catalogs, it is also possible to import Sessions into master Catalogs

More on importing Capture One Catalogs and Sessions Pro

  • Numerous small catalogs with a number of albums and folders can be confusing, especially if you’re working on multiple computers, or have one or more operators with access to the computer or hard disk. Working from one or two large catalogs may be simpler and more appropriate for some users.
  • Having one master Catalog does not limit the number of images that can be stored, and, as a virtual organizational tool, it means that Albums, Projects Smart Albums and Groups can be implemented very effectively. Please refer to Catalog strategies for workflow examples.
  • Note, imported catalogs remain accessible, and can be deleted if required. Before deleting however, please make sure that any image originals that may have been embedded in a catalog initially have been safely imported into the new master catalog.
  • Previous Catalogs and Sessions from Capture One Pro 7 may be imported into a master Catalog in Capture One Pro 8. Upgrading variants using the new Capture One Pro 8 processing engine is optional but doing so provides improved image quality and access to the latest tools. However, once updated, the settings cannot be reversed.
  • Catalogs or Sessions produced by Capture One 7 and opened from within Capture One Pro 8 must be updated to benefit from the new applications new features. A warning dialog will be displayed with the option to Upgrade and Open, or Cancel.  While the upgrade is irreversible, settings and adjustments are preserved. Individual variants may still be processed using the existing Capture One 7 tools and processing engine. Also, to benefit from the new tools and image quality enhancements, the variants will require upgrading for compatibility with the latest processing engine.
  • Catalogs cannot be exported in previous versions of Capture One. In Capture One Pro 7, both image originals and adjustments must be exported first and then re-imported into the specified catalog. Capture One Pro 8 greatly simplifies this process with its new direct importing feature.

Filters Tool

The Library tool tab also has a Filters tool that is useful for global searches or groupings, allowing a quick comparison across thousands of files. A catalog offers full searchable functionality of image files from the Filters tool.

There are a number of ways to use the filters. There are visual indicators that let users see how many images have, for example, a 5 star rating and/or a color tag. The number next to the relevant color or star in the Filters tool represents how many images fulfill that criterion. Clicking and selecting on that number (represented by an orange dot) will filter all the images with those particular criteria so that they appear in the browser.

Global Search and Comparison

Add star ratings and color tags in the Filters tool

  1. Ensure the Library tool tab is open. Select one or more thumbnails in the browser.
  2. Drag and drop the thumbnail(s) on to the desired star rating or color tag in the Filters tools.  
    Tip: Press 0 (zero) on your keyboard to remove a star rating.

Discover other ways to add color tags and star ratings.

Add Star Ratings and Color Tags

Switch between catalogs Pro

  1. Go to the Library tool tab and select a catalog from the drop down menu.
  2. A catalog will open instantly in a new window.

Switch Between Open Catalogs

Catalog and User Collections

The content of the Catalog Collections window cannot be changed and shows fixed collections of all the images in the current catalog, recent imports, recent captures and the trash. The last ten Imports and last ten Capture sessions are always available to view here as a fixed album.

Shows fixed collections of all the images in the current catalog

Folders tool

The Folders tool lets users see where catalog files are located. The subheading Catalog shows if there are any images placed inside the catalog.

Essential information:  

  • Right-clicking on the folder will show a number of options including one to reveal the complete file system hierarchy.
  • Click on the plus icon (circled) to add folders for the catalog database to recognize. This can be useful if you want to move images from one folder to a new folder. Remember to always complete actions like this within Capture One Pro so that the Catalog database can keep track of changes.
  • Click on the minus icon (circled) to remove a folder from this section.

See where Catalog Files are Located

Offline browsing

Catalogs that are located on an external hard drive or servers can still be browsed when they are offline. It is even possible to apply some image adjustments. Follow our guide to Offline Browsing:

  • Image files that are located inside the catalog and files that are referenced in their current location can be browsed offline. Working offline can prove useful when using large image collection stored in more capable external storage as opposed to the internal storage of the workstation.
  • A number of visual adjustments and metadata edits can be made and will be automatically applied to image files the next time the catalog is reconnected. 
  • Go to the Folders section of the Library tool. By default the folder hierarchy shows the root folder, and the folder the images are stored in. To see the complete hierarchy, right-click on the folder and choose Show Folders Hierarchy. If the external location becomes unavailable, it will be flagged with a question mark. The image in the Viewer will also be tagged with a question mark and shown as Offline. (See circled).

Catalogs that are located on an external hard drive or servers can still be browsed when they are offline

Video tutorial: Offline browsing

Learn about Offline Browsing in this video tutorial. (Click on the image to the right).

If your images are no longer online with the current catalog, they can still be browsed and some image adjustments made. This is good if you keep your cataloged files on external drives or servers but would still like to browse 'offline'.

Virtual organization

A Catalog can store single image files, Projects, Albums, Smart Albums and Groups.

Groups: A group is a freeform organizing item. It can contain other groups, projects, albums etc. - it is a simple way to group items. A Smart Album located within a group will search for files located outside the group. (A project in contrast will limit the search scope of, for example, smart albums within it and cannot contain other projects).

Albums: Put an image into several albums without creating copies or using more hard disk space. This saves on hard disk space and makes for easier organization. Editing an image in one album will, of course, be reflected in all other albums, which contain the same image.

Projects: Group your albums into projects, search and filter for images within a project. A project will limit the search scope of, for example, Smart Albums within it. (i.e. A Smart Album will only search for files within a project unlike a group). A project cannot contain other projects.

Organize your images into albums, your albums into projects and your projects into groups. It is easy to drag and drop images between collections within different projects.

Organize Images as Albums and Projects

Organize a catalog: create a group

  1. Go to the Library tool and press the + (plus) icon at the top of the User tab.
  2. Select one of the four options.
  3. In this example, a Group has been choosen and named People.
  4. It is possible to add a number of Projects or Albums within the Group, if desired. In this case, an Album has been selected to help organize the different models within the Studio Portraits catalog.
  5. Drag and drop selected image files from the catalog into the newly created Album.

Create Groups to organize catalogs

Create a Catalog Template Pro

Making a Catalog Template allows you to create a new catalog with a predetermined set of User Collections, instead of starting from scratch. This may be a valuable time saving exercise if you adopt a complex hierarchy of User Collections. Nested Albums, Smart Albums complete with rules (search criteria and active filters), Projects and Groups are all duplicated from within the open catalog.

  1. Open a catalog and navigate to the Library tool with a set of User Collections that you intend to copy. Select File>Save As Template... A dialog box will open to save the file.
  2. Choose a suitable name for the Template. Select Save.
  3. From the Library, click on the + (plus) with reveal icon (top right) and select New Catalog… Or select File>New Catalog...(shortcut Shift+Cmd+N). A dialog box will appear.
  4. Select an appropriate name for the new Catalog, select a location for the Catalog to be saved to (or choose to retain the existing location) and select the appropriate Template from the drop-down menu.
  5. Check mark the box underneath to open the new catalog alongside the already open Catalog, or uncheck to close the existing Catalog and open the new one.

Note. No images are copied into the Catalog when creating a Template.

Making a Catalog Template allows you to create a new catalog with a predetermined set of User Collections, instead of starting from scratch

Shared catalogs Pro

It is possible for several people to share and work on the same catalog. It is also possible to lock a catalog (restricting it to a 'View Only' mode) to ensure no changes can be made to it.

To lock a catalog...

  1. Go to File>Lock Catalog...
  2. A dialog box will appear. Press the Lock button and the window will reopen.
  3. A locked catalog can be opened by multiple users simultaneously, but no changes can be made to it. Notice the icon in the bottom right corner of the thumbnail. (See circled). All editing tools will also become disabled.  
  4. Go to File>Unlock Catalog... Press the Unlock button to remove the restrictions.

Share and Work on Catalogs

Catalog strategies

It is possible that a single catalog will be sufficient for your workflow needs. However, grouping files into a few separate catalogs creates a higher level of organization and better search capabilities. Here are some ways to organize your catalogs:

  • Organize by project
    You can dedicate a catalog to each of your projects or clients for easy and quick reference. This is also a good method for supporting short-term deadlines and goals.
  • Organize by chronology
    You can create an additional set of catalogs based on the date and time. This is a good monthly habit that will help you build a searchable archive as you go.
  • Organize by subject
    Any logical subjects that are not likely to overlap are a good way to divide your media into multiple catalogs. For example, you can store your images by high-level subjects that describe the types of your photo assignments, such as travel, fashion, portraits and so on.
  • Organize by process/task
    At times, there are clearly definable states for files in a workflow. Separating items by their state or task can help direct users to a media item at a specific stage in the workflow. For example, photographers might create one catalog each for client selections or edited images.

Organize Archive by Genre