Last updated on October 3, 2022
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Managing & searching images

The Source Browser

The Source Browser, available in the PhotoLibrary tab, lets you explore the folders on your storage devices as well as the projects stored in your DxO PhotoLab database.

On PC the Source Browser is divided into these sections:

On Mac, it is divided into the following sections:

The Source Browser (PC and Mac).

On Mac, the Source Browser can be hidden, displayed, or adjusted in the following way:

On PC, the Source Browser can be hidden, displayed, or adjusted in the following way:

On both Mac and PC, you can expand or collapse each section of the Source Browser by clicking on the black banners.

Expanding/collapsing Source Browser sections.

Browsing folders and content

Displaying the contents of a folder.

To display the contents of a folder, select it in the Source Browser to immediately display it in the Image Browser.

Note that DxO PhotoLab only displays the contents of a folder if it contains images at root level. As such, if you select a parent folder that contains only folders, you will not see the contents of any subfolder until you have selected one (you cannot see the contents of multiple folders at the same time).

On Mac, when you display the contents of a folder or project and you hover your mouse pointer over the image, a floating palette appears (the palette does not appear for thumbnails in the Image Explorer).

The floating palette, which is only visible in the PhotoLibrary tab, contains the following elements:

Creating and renaming a folder

Mac

On the Mac version of DxO PhotoLab, you cannot create folders or rename them in the Source Browser. You will have to do this in the Finder, your changes will subsequently appear in the DxO PhotoLab Source Browser.

PC

On PC, you have the option of creating and renaming folders directly within the DxO PhotoLab Source Browser.

Right-click folder context menu (PC only).

Right-clicking on a folder reveals a context menu with the following options:

The new folder or folder name will be visible in Windows Explorer.

The context menu has two other options:

Moving or copying images

Mac

PC

Of course, you can add images to an existing project by dragging and dropping from a folder.

Search functions

DxO PhotoLab makes it easy to find images using searches that you can base on multiple criteria (which you can combine). This search is made possible by the file content indexing tool, which transcribes all the information into the application database and speeds up the search process.

DxO PhotoLab indexing is internal to the program and generated from its database. It is independent from the indexing of Windows and macOS operating systems.

Indexing folder contents

To take advantage of its search functions, you must allow DxO PhotoLab to index the content of your image folders. To do this, you have two methods at your disposal:

  1. Indexing occurs automatically each time that you open and work in a folder.
  2. You can start an indexing process by using the Analysis feature. (This is particularly helpful if you are a novice user of DxO PhotoLab.)

To manually index your folders, go into the Search for images section (PC) and/or under the input field in the Source Browser:

  1. Click on Analyze a folder (PC) or on the + folder icon that precedes the label “Scan a folder” (Mac).
  2. In the dialog box, select the volume (hard drive) or the folder to index (the sub-folders will be indexed as well).
  3. Click on OK (PC) or on Open (Mac).
  4. An animated bar will display within the Search for images section. The indexing is finished once the animated bar disappears (the duration depends on the size of the chosen volume and its contents).
Indexing (PC top, Mac bottom)

IMPORTANT: Indexing and searching only work on folders and subfolders, therefore the content of projects is excluded.

After you have finished indexing, you can start a search using the method and criteria detailed further below. Using search criteria

You can search using the following criteria:

Shot parameters

Metadata and other information

To perform a search, enter a keyword into the Search for images field. If you enter 100, for example (1), the program will offer you a list of criteria that include the number 100, such as ISO sensitivity (100 ISO), focal length (100 mm) or shutter speed (1/100s), with the corresponding number of images (2). Click on the desired criterion (and if it does not indicate 0) to validate it (3), then load and display the resulting images in the Source Browser (4), which will allow you to create a project from your selection. A reminder of the search criterion you used in the Source Browser toolbar will also appear (5).

Search (Mac).

You can add several criteria to your search: after you have validated the first criterion, enter a second criterion (6) and then validate it, and so on. After validation, the multiple criteria are displayed in list form under the input field.

DxO PhotoLab stores the last 5 searches (PC, left; Mac, right).

DxO PhotoLab stores up to 5 search results in the Last searches (7) menu, which appears on the PC by clicking in the input field, or in the Recent searches (8) section on the Mac. New stored searches are automatically added to the list, and the oldest one (above 5 searches) is deleted.

To delete a criterion, click in the input field and press the Return key on the keyboard. To completely reset the input field, click and press the Back button as many times as necessary.

The X button to the right of the input field also resets its contents, but on a PC, it also validates and stores the last search (9).

Finally, when the number of images that can be displayed exceeds the maximum limit (1000), the number is displayed on a blue background (10) in the search list, and a message is also displayed in the Image Browser (11). In this case, you can refine the search by multiplying the criteria, which will reduce the number of images to display.

Indication that the maximum number of images that can be displayed has been exceeded.

Searching for and collating images using keywords

To find images using keywords, enter a keyword in the field. As you begin typing, the search field will suggest matching keywords; make your selection and hit Enter to confirm. The File Explorer will then display the images that have this assigned keyword. You can search for both child and parent keywords, although parent keywords are not visible in the Metadata palette.

The search also works by entering several keywords. If the list of suggestions includes other information, such as folder names, navigate to the keyword with the up or down arrows on the keyboard and confirm with the Enter key. In the list, the keywords are indicated by a pictogram representing a key.

After you have collated your images, you can put them in a project.

If you want to reset the search field, click on X.

You can also get a quick overview of the keywords contained in the images by placing the mouse pointer over a thumbnail in the Image explorer.

Searching, collecting, and viewing images with IPTC metadata

IPTC metadata fields allow you to enter a wide range of information, including natural language descriptions of images, copyright information, terms of use for photos, and contact information for the author of the images. You can enter this information, or portions of text or words in the metadata fields to find the associated images.

The author name search returns results in the IPTC fields, in filenames and in folders with that name.

Displaying and working on images

Image Browser

The Image Browser displays the contents of a folder or project that you have selected in the Source Browser (left panel). The VIewer will display the thumbnail that you selected in the Image Browser.

Display of an image selected via the Image Browser

The docked Image Browser

By default, the content of the Image Browser is displayed as a single row of thumbnails in the PhotoLibrary tab. However, if you move the separation line between the Viewer and Image Browser, the thumbnails will enlarge; if you continue to drag the line up, the thumbnails will be displayed in several rows, and the size of the image in the Viewer will automatically adjust to the available space. As soon as the thumbnails are displayed in several rows, a thumbnail size adjustment slider is displayed in the control bar, and you can scroll the thumbnail grid vertically with the mouse wheel.

To return to the single-line thumbnail display, drag the separation line downwards.

The display of thumbnails in grid form is available only in the PhotoLibrary tab.

The detached Image Browser

The detached Image Browser is particularly advantageous if you use a second screen.

The detached Image Browser is a floating window that you can freely move or position on a secondary screen, thereby providing the Viewer with much more space in the vertical direction. You can freely resize the Detached Image Browser window; the vertical scroll bar is located on the right side by default. Navigation buttons are available and you can change the size of the thumbnails with the slider, also located in the top bar.

Image Browser toolbar

Image Browser toolbars (top, PC; bottom, Mac).
  1. Sorting and filtering options:
    • Image sorting: Photos in the Image Browser can be sorted according to different criteria (more details in the “Sorting images” section below).
    • Image filtering: this button acts as a display filter (see the “Filtering Images” section below).
  2. Name of the folder or active project, or reminder of the criterion used during a search, and name of the image selected or hovered over by the mouse pointer.
  3. Number of images selected: The number of images selected in the Image Browser and the total number of images in the selected folder or project (Mac); or the total number of images in the selected folder or project and the number of images selected in the Image Browser (PC).
  4. Thumbnail size slider: Smaller to the left, larger to the right.
  5. Nik Collection button for working on images using the tools in the Nik suite (displays only if activated via Preferences).
  6. Export to… & Export progress buttons: The Export to… button lets you select an export mode, while the progress button appears as an animated progress bar throughout the export process (clicking on it will display details of the current export status in a floating palette.) The progress button is only visible when an export is being processed.

When it is detached, the Image Explorer command bar displays a slider for resizing the thumbnails.

While it is detached, the Image Browser displays a slider for resizing thumbnails in the command bar.

Image Browser information messages

When the Image Browser is empty, it will display the reason that no image or thumbnail is available:

Sorting images in the Image Browser

The first button (a/z on PC, arrow on Mac) in the Image Browser command bar allows you to sort images by the following criteria:

PC

Mac

Filtering images in the Image Browser

Filtering the Image Browser display: when you check one of the filters in the list only photos that match that filter will be shown(1). Filters are organized into groups, from top to bottom:

PC

Mac

(1) This behavior was introduced in DxO PhotoLab 5.1. Previously, you had to uncheck the filters.

(2) Only displayed in the list if enabled in Preferences >Display > “Image browser” section.

– An active filter will still be active when the software is restarted.

Thumbnail icons

Thumbnail icons (left: PC, right: Mac)

Normally, the thumbnails in the Image Browser do not display anything other than the file names or the icon of an image being exported. Other icons to inform you of problems may also be displayed.

  1. File name.
  2. Delete icon (PC): allows you to delete images from the hard disk or remove them from a project.
  3. Rating / evaluation of the image in stars (0 to 5).
  4. Noise processing (details below): the icon indicates the applied type of noise processing (PRIME, DeepPRIME or DeepPRIME XD).
  5. Status of the DxO Optics Module (see details below): indicates, according to the icon, whether a module is available, downloaded or ambiguous. When the module is installed and functional, there is no indication.
  6. Metadata synchronization conflict (see details below).
  7. Selection icon. This icon is inactive by default. It displays the images to be kept (green dot) and the rejected images (red dot). When neither selection marker has been assigned, the dots are gray.
  8. When creating a virtual copy (details below), this icon indicates whether the image is the original (M = Master) or a virtual copy (N° of the copy: 1, 2, 3, etc.).
  9. Status of image processing (see details below).
  10. Soft proofing icon (details below).

The DxO optics module icons in detail (no icon for when a module is installed and in use), from left to right:

Processing status icons in detail (displayed in the lower right corner of the thumbnail image), from left to right:

Noise Processing Icons in detail (no Icon for HQ mode), from left to right:

Thumbnail icons (left: PC, right: Mac)

Loading Icon (PC)

Virtual copy icons in detail, left to right:

Thumbnail icons (PC)
Thumbnail icons (Mac)

PC

Mac

The soft proofing icons in detail, left to right:

The metadata conflict icon in detail.

This icon appears if DxO PhotoLab detects a conflict between the metadata stored in its database and the metadata stored in the image itself (XMP attachment for Raw files, header for DNG, JPEG, and TIFF files). To resolve the metadata conflict, click on the icon (see chapter Manage Files and Metadata > section Synchronize Metadata for more information.

You can display, hide, or show these icons when mousing over a thumbnail; settings are in the Preferences.

Maximizing the interface (PC)

Maximizing the interface (when in either the PhotoLibrary or the Customize tab) means using the entire screen to display DxO PhotoLab without the menu bar at the top, and by hiding the Image Explorer (the Windows taskbar remains visible).

To access this mode, go to the View menu and select Maximize Interface, or press the F12 key. (Do the same to exit this display mode.)

Default interface
Maximize interface command
Maximized interface

Selection status, rating and color tag

Image management first requires sorting and selection, so DxO PhotoLab also offers you a number of tools to help you filter your photos:

All these markers are visible with the thumbnails, and you can filter them, in combination if required, using the Image Browser filter to help you create projects with your best images.

Selection Status

Selection status markers let you do a first-pass selection of images from your PhotoLibrary. This selection status is proprietary, only visible in DxO PhotoLab.

The statuses at your disposal are:

To apply the statuses, you have the following options:

Thumbnails with the status Rejected (red dot) are also grayed out to easily distinguish them from others in the Image Explorer.

Rating

The star system ratings in DxO PhotoLab follow photo industry standards and metadata protocols (Exif). You will be able to see whether your images have already been rated outside of DxO PhotoLab.

There are no predefined rules or meanings for the given number of stars, it is up to the user to decide what they indicate. For coherence, you might want to restrict yourself to 3 image ratings, for example: 0 stars (undecided), 3 stars (good) and 5 stars (excellent). In any case, you should adopt a consistent methodology to avoid any confusion or disruption in your image management later on.

To apply a star rating:

To quickly reset the rating to zero, click on the last star. For example, if you assigned 3 stars, clicking on the 3rd star removes the rating.

Color label

A color label is a marker that appears as a tile behind the filename of the thumbnail. There are also no rules for assigning colors, it is up to the user to decide what they mean (e.g. red for important, green for published, blue for printing, etc.). Again, adopt a methodology and try not to change it. The color labels are unique to DxO PhotoLab and are therefore not visible in other programs.

8 statuses and 7 colors are at your disposal:

To assign a color label, you have the following options:

Filtering and searching for marked images

In the Image Browser, you can filter images by tag, rating, label color, and other checked criteria in the Image Filtering menu.

Searching for images is also possible using the following criteria:

Sorting and selecting the best images in fullscreen mode

Selecting the best images in full-screen mode

Full-screen mode lets you display just the image, without any UI elements, so you can easily compare a reference image with another (before correction, virtual copy, etc.), and rate or assign selection markers to your photos.

Full-screen mode

You can activate full-screen mode by:

Full-screen mode is accessible in both the PhotoLibrary and the Customize tabs.

Displaying images

In PC, full-screen mode is equipped with a navigation loupe for when you are zoomed in on the image. To activate or deactivate it, click on the button on the bottom right, and then click on Navigation. As soon as you zoom in on the image, you can navigate within it by moving the tile in the loupe window.

Assigning selection markers and ratings

If you click on the central button (with a chevron on it), you will display the toolbar with the file name and type, and an image selection and rating bar. To hide these, click on the same button.

To assign a selection marker, click on the icons located under the image: the green “Tag” dot is on the left; the red “untag” dot is on the right. Simply click on the colored dot again to remove the marker.

You can also use these keys on your keyboard to assign selection markers: 7 (Save), 8 (no marker, unassigned marker), and 9 (Reject).

To assign a rating from 1 to 5, click on one of the five stars (PC) or one of the five dots (Mac). You can also use the Up and Down arrows, or keys 1 through 5 on your keyboard, to rate images (pressing 0 resets the rating).

If you use Adobe Lightroom Classic, you can also use the P (Save), U (Cancel), and X (Reject) keys to assign selection markers.

Comparing images

In full-screen mode, you can compare an image in two ways: via Quick comparison, that lets you switch between two versions of the image, or Split view, which uses a movable separation line between the two images. You can also select a reference image.

Quick comparison

To instantly compare a corrected image with the uncorrected original, click on the compare button on the right side of the toolbar. You can also use Ctrl+D (PC) or D (Mac).

Split view

Activate the separation line by clicking on the Split view button on the right side of the toolbar. After it is displayed, you can move it anywhere within the image from left to right. The left part is the image before correction, and the right part is the image after correction.

You can switch to horizontal mode either by clicking on the second button while the mouse is hovering over the Split view button, or by double-clicking on the handle in the center of the line. In the horizontal mode, the image before correction is on top, and the version after correction is on the bottom.

To leave Split view mode, click on the corresponding button in the toolbar.

Zoom at 100% works with both the Quick comparison and Split view modes.

Reference image

Full-screen mode also gives you the possibility of comparing a reference image to another version of the same image — for example, a virtual copy that was processed differently, or an exported version with applied corrections.

Click on the arrow located on the right in the toolbar, and select the image to compare from the menu.

You can also use reference images in Compare as well as Split view mode; when you have activated the latter, the reference image is on the left (or if you are in horizontal mode, on top).

Show/hide shooting parameters

To display the EXIF data of the selected image, click on the button on the bottom right of the screen, or press on your keyboard’s I (for “Information”) key. Click the button or press the key again to hide the EXIF data.

Show/hide help and list of keyboard shortcuts (full-screen mode)

To view full screen keyboard shortcuts, click on the question mark to the bottom right, or hit the F1 (PC) or Cmd + ? key (Mac).

Projects

Workflow management with projects

Projects let you gather together photos with different origins. They might not just differ from a technical point of view (shooting date, equipment used, exposure settings, etc. – but they can come from different sources (folders) and volumes (drives).

A project is, to some extent, a virtual directory where you can group images according to your workflow and various other needs: processed images sorted and filtered according to certain end requirements, such as publication, exhibition, customer orders, etc. The virtual nature of the grouping allows you to assign the same image to various projects without having to actually duplicate it.

Certainly, projects can be arranged into groups to create an easy-to-manage and flexible hierarchy of tasks, since it is also possible to place groups into other project groups.

If an image is part of several projects and you make corrections and changes to it, they will apply across all projects. If you want to create different versions of the same image, according to the needs of the project, then make virtual copies.

The workflow we recommend is as follows:

Of course, you can create projects according to the criteria set out in the filters, or by keywords or metadata using the search field, in the image browser.

Browsing projects

On both Mac and PC, projects are located at the bottom of the left panel (Source Browser) on the PhotoLibrary tab, in the Projects section. Once you have created a project, this section displays the following elements:

When you click on a project, its content is displayed in the Image Browser. This also happens if you click on a project group, provided that the option is active (which it is by default):

The number to the right of each project indicates the total number of images within the project. Conversely, project groups do not indicate the total number of images within the group.

You can also get to the most recent projects and project groups via the File > Recent Locations menu.

Creating an empty project or project group

Creating an empty project.
Creating an empty project group.

To create an empty project or project group inside an existing project group:

Creating a project from a selection of images

The option to Create project from current selection and Add current selection to a project are accessible in both the Organize and the Customize tabs.

Organizing projects and project groups with drag and drop

You can organize and rearrange your hierarchy by simply dragging-and-dropping a project or project group into another project group, using the mouse. Similarly, you can replace the project or project group at the root level in the same way.

A helpful positioning bar appears when you move the elements, in both cases.

Adding images to an existing project

To add images to an existing project:

You can also drag and drop images into a project:

This is also possible to do using an external source, using your computer’s file explorer:

Viewing and sorting projects and project groups

Projects and project groups are displayed in alphabetical order. However, you have the following options when you click on Select the display sort order icon (Mac) or on the A-Z icon (PC), in the Source Browser Projects bar:

When you select a project, the content is displayed in the Image Explorer with the project name in the toolbar as well as the number of images selected/number of images in total (for example, 5/10 means 5 out of 10 images have been selected).

You can also view all the images in projects inside a project group, provided that the option is enabled in Preferences:

Renaming a project or project group

You can rename projects or project groups at any time:

Deleting a project or project group

To delete a project or project group:

In either case, a dialog box will prompt you to confirm your choice.

IMPORTANT
– When you delete a project, the images are not deleted from their folders, hard drive, or from other projects.

– If you delete a project group, all of the projects inside the group will be deleted.

Virtual copies

About virtual copies

A Virtual copy is a duplicate of a Source image which you can try out various corrections on. You can create and experiment with as many virtual copies as you wish to apply different correction settings and compare them to one another.

Creating or deleting virtual copies

To create a virtual copy:

  1. Choose a reference (master) image in the Image Browser.
  2. Right-click on its thumbnail and select Create a virtual copy in the contextual menu. You can also choose the same option in the Image menu, or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + J (PC) or Cmd+D (Mac).
  3. A new thumbnail will appear in the Image Browser next to the image source. The new virtual copy is selected by default.
  4. The thumbnail of the reference image is marked M (for master) at the bottom left, and the sequence number 1 appears in the same place in the thumbnail of the virtual copy. Each time you add a virtual copy, a sequence number 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. will be assigned and displayed as you go along.

Virtual copies behave exactly like an original image: you can organize them in projects (along with original files), apply any correction or preset, process them by exporting, and print them.

To delete a virtual copy:

  1. Right-click on the copy thumbnail in the Image Browser.
  2. Choose Delete in the context menu.

You cannot delete a virtual copy while you are working on the project it belongs to. You can remove it from the project, but it will still exist and be visible when you open the folder containing the original image.

Using a virtual copy as a reference image

The previous steps explained how to create (unlimited) virtual copies which you can compare, one at a time, to the source or original image. But it is also possible to compare virtual copies with each other using the following steps:

  1. In the upper toolbar (in either the Customize or PhotoLibrary tab), click on the tiny arrow located to the right of the Compare button (PC), or on the side-by-side display button (Mac), which will give you access to the Reference Image menu.
  2. A list of copies of the image in the Viewer are shown by this menu. Some may be grayed out and marked as Needs to be processed; others may be active.
  3. Choose one image from the active set. This image is now the reference image, and will appear on the left side of the comparison. You can compare these virtual copies without having to go through the source image.

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