When you start digiKam for the very first time it will ask you where you store your photographs and the digiKam database. You can choose any local, remote or removable folder. Just type in the path name of a folder or click on the folder icon to select a folder from the dialog.
Later on you can add as many locations as you like - digiKam will add them to the album library. → →
Next, you will have to choose the way you would like to open RAW files : either with automatic adjustments or with the digiKam RAW import tool to adjust corrections manually.
If you don't know what is a RAW file or if your camera don't support RAW files, you should keep the default setting and skip this step.
Metadata information storage may be important if you plan to work with another photo management program and you should Add information to files. But if you don't want to alter your pictures, keep the default setting: Do nothing.
Then choose how digiKam will load images in preview mode and light table. Reduced version will load faster but at the cost of quality.
Now how digiKam will open images on a right click. Previews will load faster but you won't be able to make any corrections.
Tooltips are a fast and easy way to display important information on a photograph, they popup as the mouse move over a thumbnail. Select "Use tooltips" if you want to display them.
Click on . DigiKam will now start to scan for photographs...
If you already have a collection of photographs on your hard disk, you can enter the top-level folder containing the photographs, this is called the Albums Library folder. digiKam will treat each sub-folder of the folder you've entered as an Album. None of the photographs will be altered. During folders parsing you can see a progress dialog like this:
digiKam will recurse the library path to its full depth. You cannot exclude (prune) any sub-path unless you make that sub-path hidden. You have to do that from outside of digiKam by putting a dot in front of the sub-path.
As digiKam uses your folders on your hard disk directly, other applications like file managers can remove any albums outside a digiKam session. In this case digiKam will tell you at the next session if all albums that have been removed from the digiKam photographs root path shall be deleted from albums database. If you want to move folders around and do not want to do that in digiKam, we suggest you do that while digiKam is running, so the database will be kept in sync and you do not lose any metadata.
When you use an existing folder of photographs, as the Album Library folder, you will notice that the Albums in the Album list do not have photographs as their icons. You can change that by dragging any photograph in the Album onto the folder icon in the left sidebar and use this as the Album icon. See the Album section for details of how to change the Album icon.
If you have previously accessed your photograph collection with another application, that has created thumbnails in non-standard sub-folders, digiKam will show these thumbnail folders as separate Albums. digiKam follows the freedesktop.org standards for thumbnail folders. There is no way of hiding non-standard thumbnail folders from the "Albums" list. If you want to keep them you could create an Album Collection that just contains all the thumbnail Folders and then view your Albums in By Collection order. See the Album section for more about Album Collections.