Professor Tips

Organize your Catalogs and find your best assets in no time

Basically, a Capture One Pro 7 Catalog can be organized in two ways:

  • By using a simple folder structure at a system level (i.e. the organizational structure is handled using folders on your Mac or PC with images residing in the folders you’ve made).
  • By using a virtual organization in the User Collections area of the Capture One Library Tool.
How does virtual organization work?

A Collection is simply a ‘group’ of images gathered in one place for easy reference. I used the term ‘Virtual’, as placing images into a collection does not physically move them on disk. We simply update the Catalog database to reflect where you have organized images and in which collections.

Virtually organizing your images has a number of advantages over the traditional way of placing images in various physical folders on the system:

  • A single image can belong to several different collections and does not require a physical copy
  • Smart Albums can be used to automatically sort images with a variety of search terms
  • Projects (one of the four Capture One Pro 7 organizational items) can be intelligently used to enhance your organization and workflow.


The main benefit, of course, is that you should not be struggling to find your best assets in your Catalog… EVER!

Creating organizational items

All the virtual organizational items can be created in the User Collections area of the Library Tool. So for example, if we wished to create an Album in our Catalog, we would simply click on the Plus icon in the User Collections title bar:



Then you can choose one of the four organizational items, which I’ll go through now:


Albums are the most basic of organizational items. Simply create it and then drag and drop, whichever image(s) you want to appear in that album. Remember! You are not moving any image files on the disk, therefore an image can belong in several different albums.





Smart Albums

If you have never used a Smart Album before then I would recommend you to explore them. Smart Albums are quite versatile in helping you sort images with a minimum of effort.

A Smart Album populates itself with images based on a user defined search criteria. For example, you could have a Smart Album that:

  • Only contains images that you have given a specific rating. e.g. Five Stars
  • Only contains images that contain a certain keyword
  • Only contains images shot with a particular lens


… and so on!


Of course, all search terms can be combined to create complex queries with results being returned in a matter of milliseconds.

For example, a Smart Album could be set to only contain images shot within a certain time period, that are keyworded with a certain term, are rated five stars and, captured with a particular camera and lens combination. The only limit is your imagination really!

Using Smart Albums with Projects

The power of Smart Albums is best explained in combination with the ‘Project’ organizational item. As busy photographers we can all imagine that we could end up with a great number of Smart Albums and Albums in our Catalogs. This could get very untidy and confusing.

Because of this we can use Projects for some brilliant organizational options.

Basically a Project limits the search scope of a Smart Album, so remember these basic guidelines:

  • A Smart Album not contained within a Project will search the entire Catalog.
  • A Smart Album contained within a Project will only search the images within that Project.

Therefore you can use both ‘global’ Smart Albums outside of Projects to monitor your entire Catalog and Smart Albums inside Projects to monitor only images specific to that Project.


In this small Catalog we have 477 images:

2013-11-22_14-40-47You can also see that three Projects already exist in the User Collections area, but let’s make a new Project from scratch to show you the process.

I’ll start by choosing Project from the menu described earlier, and naming it:


This creates a new, and empty, Project in the User Collections area:

2013-11-22_14-44-46As a Project cannot contain images itself, I will right-click on the Project and choose ‘New Inside…’ and create an Album.


If you expand out the Project, the empty Album will be ready to accept images, simply by dragging and dropping as we did before.

Alternatively, if you right-click on the album and choose ‘Set as Selects Collection’ we can use a handy shortcut to quickly move images into that album, if you prefer not to drag and drop.


Simply select any image(s) and hit Cmd (Mac) / Cntrl(PC)-J on the keyboard to populate the Album with the image.

After selecting our files, we have an Album that now contains 13 images. Circled in orange is the icon that designates this as the Selects Collection.

2013-11-22_14-58-39Now the magic starts with Smart Albums!

I’ll right-click on the Project once more, as we did to create the Album in the Project earlier, but this time I’ll choose to create a Smart Album. The following dialog box opens, which is where we set the parameters for the Smart Album’s search scope. I have used a Preset to automatically set the Search Criteria that the rating must equal five stars.


So any image in my Project that agrees with the criteria will be automatically added to the Smart Album.  You can see that the Smart Album now only contains six five star rated images from that Project.


Finally, if I were to place a Smart Album outside of any Project in the User Collections area, then this Smart Album would search the entire Catalog. Here we have a returned result of 143 Images.


Using Groups

Our final organizational item is a Group. This is a free form item, which you can use pretty much the same way as a system folder. It places no limits on the scope of Smart Albums like a Project does.

For example, here I have just used a number of Groups to categorize my collections further.


I hope by reading this tip you can see there is a lot of scope for using virtual organization as a way to empower your Catalogs in an intelligent way. By careful addition of Projects, Albums and Smart Albums it will be easier and most importantly faster, to find the assets you need for any given assignment or task.


Best regards,



David Grover
David Grover

David Grover is part of the Capture One team, bringing you help, advice and education on a variety of subjects and platforms. David can be found on most weeks delivering live Capture One Webinars or anytime on our YouTube Channel.

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Comments (23)

The question that I can never get answered is how many images can a catalog handle? Or a session as well. When I have made catalog’s with just 5,000 images it just won’t work. PhaseOne files seem to be better. Canon EIP files or jpeg are a problem for sure. Others have the same issue which makes me think it’s not a system problem.

David Grover

Hi Stretch,

In theory, there is no limit but you will see a performance slowdown perhaps when you hit 100K images – but it is very much hardware dependant as well.

Unfortunately when you say ‘won’t work’ what context are you referring too? Have you contacted support? If not that is the swiftest way for a resolution..

Use the last link ‘Contact technical support’ and you can normally expect a response in 24 business hours.


A while back I had 5500 EIP files from a Canon 5D II in a catalog. It would work for a bit and then get bogged down with the spinning beach ball.

Yesterday I exported 7,000 iPhone photos from IPhoto & imported the jpg’s to a session. Same thing, works fine for a bit & then bogs down. Force restart required.

But I can contact support

David Grover

Hi Stretch,

I certainly think contacting support will be your fastest avenue.

EIP files aren’t supported in a Catalog.. they are unpacked before importing, so are you sure it was a Catalog? 5000 images isn’t very much at all, so something needs investigating.


How do I get rid of this smart system with catalogs and sessions.
I used to have a system of my own which I was fond of.

David Grover

Hi Jens,

I beleive you are referring to the ability to browse system files? You can do that from within any Session – which is what you would have been doing in Version 6.


Bernard Gateau

My images are stored in multiple catalogs. It appears that Albums are not visible across catalogs. Is there a way to easily populate a single Albums with images coming from multiple catalogs?


David Grover

Hi Bernard,

Different Catalogs have different databases so it is not possible to make the same album visible in different ones.

An alternative solution would be to work in One Catalog and split your images into different Projects. Then you get the benefit of being able to search asset wide.


Question: I have 500,000 photos filed by year, month, shoot over multiple external hard drives, not all connected at the same time. How is this handled, is there a thumbnail kept as part of the database, for reference sake, and if I move a photo that is already in the data base but your software is not connected how does the database respond? thank you.

David Grover

Hi Kit,

Yes, this is perfectly possible! The catalog stores a preview of every image imported into the Catalog. If one of your drives is not connected you can still browse images that reside in that drive, and even make adjustments, add meta data and organise as described above.

If you wish to move a photo, that is best done in Capture One so the database is up to date. If you do it outside of Capture One, you can then relocate images after – but you are almost giving yourself more work then.


Regarding first tip:
By using a simple folder structure at a system level (i.e. the organizational structure is handled using folders on your Mac or PC with images residing in the folders you’ve made).

Why there is no custom settings for importing files from sd for creating folders/subfolder on destination filesystem? It would be nice to have such feature, so i dont need to manually create and organize photos on my disk in year-folders, month-folder, day-folder before i go to CO.

Pierre Fallavier

Hello David,

I created a large number of catalogs and worked on the images within each of them before I realized I could have instead have fewer catalogs with projects in each. Is there a way to merge existing catalogs? Or to move/exports images with their adjustments from one catalog to an other?



David Grover

Hi Pierre,

There is no Catalog merge function yet, but what you can do is export the originals from the Catalog, also with adjustmented. Then import those images into your ‘Master’ catalog.

Go to File>Export Originals, and make sure the ‘Include Adjustments’ box is ticked.

When you import those originals into your Master catalog, make sure also that ‘Include Adjustments’ is ticked.

Then you are good to go!


Pierre Fallavier

Thanks David!

Hi David,

Is that photo the Blasket Island Ferry landing on the Dingle Peninsula? It looked so familiar.


David Grover

Hi Dave,

Well spotted! Yes it is.


David, I feel a bit of a fool – I have a habit of importing files into the wrong catalog! (Comes from working on very different projects at the same time, and forgetting which one was loaded when new files have been added.)
How do I MOVE these RAW files from one catalog to another existing catalog?

David Grover

Hi Rob,

No need to feel that way! We all make mistakes.

File>Export>Originals. Make sure you have the Include Existing Adjustments box checked. Then import them into the right catalog.

If you want to work in one catalog you could always consider using Projects in the user collections area to divide up your different work?



I am shooting sports and weddings. For sports there are 2 mass-events each year with 30.000+ photos taken by 10 photographers on one day, I have to import, sort and rename the (JPEG)-files and extract smaller hires- and lores JPEG-files for sale via a webserver to the participants of each event. Each library in 2014 was bigger than 250 GB of data – how would you handle that, as after a few weeks I do not need the files on the harddrive anymore and I want to archive them all together. Apples Aperture allowed me to create a single library with the pictures inside and I could zip it afterwards or create a vault.

Same problem, but less pictures with weddings, I do not want to mix different weddings, I want to store the photos of the couples seperately and I would like to archive the pictures without using tree structure.

Finally I have got my personal pictures, those I’d like to have in a separate library for all my vacation shots, personal shots, experiments and so on.

Even with a 1TB Drive there are times where the free space does not allow me to put all that into one big library but I have not yet understood how to separate between these different libraries and how to get rid of pictures without losing them…

Thank you for a short hint, how to manage that with C1 which I really would appreciate to use it as a replacement for Aperture…

Thanks, Florian


Hi David
How can I clar the recently imported list?

David Grover

Hi Alien,

The list shows a rolling “10 most recent” so there is no real need to clear it.


Is it possible to filter/search pictures not in a user collection?


alessansdro Puccinelli

Hi David,

when I move an image to a collection, c1 does move all the variants of the same file as well. is there a way to avoid it?