Chapter 2. Using digiKam

The Main digiKam Window

Introduction to the Main Window

digiKam's main window has four areas. The first one is a sidebar in the left margin that lets you switch between 4 views: Albums, Dates, Tags and Searches. Then there is a tree navigator panel showing the selected view. The main image window is right in the center. And on the right hand side there is another sidebar shown. This one can be used to show all information about your images. You can use all these views to organize and find your photographs.

To unclutter the interface, either toggle the sidebars away with a left mouse button, or use the full screen view mode (F11, Ctrl+Shift+F).

Drag and Drop of images works about everywhere: d&d an image into another branch of the album tree, across the horizontal album separation line, or to another application window. The only restriction is that you cannot d&d into tag, date or searches.

The status bar at the bottom shows in all four views:

  • the file name when selecting a single file

  • selection information when several items are selected

  • progress bar for batch processes, e.g. assigning tags

  • Quick filters:

    - search string field: live filter on file names, captions (comments), and tags

    - a file type selector lets you single out the most common ones: JPEG, PNG, TIFF, RAW, movies and audio

    - a rating filter to select images rated with the clicked number of stars

  • a thumbnail size slider

  • a navigation bar that leads through the images in the main view


The text filter is only used for those fields which are actually displayed in the icon view. E.g. filename matching only works if filenames are displayed. The fields which are displayed can be configured in the album settings dialog.

The window top shows the menu bar and the main toolbar below.

The Default Main Toolbar

  1. Go one view backwards in the main window view history (Alt+Left)

  2. Go one view forwards in the main window view history (Alt+Right)

  3. Add images, import function (Ctrl+I)

  4. Create a new Album (Ctrl+N)

  5. Edit Album properties

  6. Quick Search tool (Ctrl+F)

  7. View image (F3)

  8. Open in Image Editor (F4)

  9. Rename Image (F2)

  10. Toggle Full Screen (Ctrl+Shift+F)

  11. Slide Show (F9)

Albums View

The "Albums" tree provides an organized view of your photograph albums. All photographs that are managed by digiKam are stored in a single folder branch. The albums can be sorted by their folder layout on the hard disk, by the Collection name that has been set in the Album Properties or by the Date of that Albums (this date can also be changed in the Properties of each Album).

You can switch between these sort orders using Sort Albums from the View menu.

Creating a New Album

There are a number of ways to create a new Album. You can create a new Album when you upload new photographs from the Camera using the Camera Tool. You can also create a new empty Album by clicking the New button on the tool bar. As an additional option, you can create a new Album by importing an existing folder of photographs from your computer; just select ImportAdd Folders... from the menu bar and select the folder that you want to import. An Album will be created with the same name as the hard disk folder. You can use drag and drop to import a folder. Drag a folder icon, for example from a Konqueror window. Then drop it on the album list on the left. A menu will appear that gives you the option to move or copy the folder into digiKam.

Deleting an Album

When you delete an Album from digiKam it will be moved into the KDE Trash Can. As an option you could change this behavior, so that delete really did remove the Album and all of the photographs in it. This can be changed by selecting SettingsConfigure digiKam and selecting the Miscellaneous page. At the top of this page are the settings that control what happens when a photograph is deleted. To delete an Album right-click the Album in the "Albums" tree and select Delete Album from Hard Disk from the context menu.

Adding a Photograph to an Album

Most of the time you will create new Albums and populate them with photographs directly from your camera using the Camera Tool. However, sometimes you may want to add a photograph that you already have on your computer to an existing Album. To add a photograph to an Album, make sure that the Album is selected. Then, either click the Add Images icon in the tool bar or select ImportAdd Images... from the menu bar. Select the photographs that you want to add from the file dialog and click Open. The photographs will be copied into the Album. Additionally, you can use drag and drop to import photographs. Drag the photographs icons, for example from a Konqueror window. Then drop it on the image list on the right hand side.

If you have a scanner configured, you can also scan a photograph straight into an Album. Select ImportImport from Scanner....

Moving or Copying Photographs Between Albums

Simply drag the photograph and drop it on the destination Album to move or copy it from one Album to another. A menu will appear that gives you the option to Move or Copy the photograph. You can move or copy multiple photographs the same way, just select all the photographs that you want to move and drag them on to the destination Album.

Managing Albums

An Album contains a set of photographs. Album Properties allows you to set information about this set. To access the Album Properties right-click on an Album and select Edit Album Properties from the context menu.

The Album Properties dialog allows you to set:

Example 2.1. The Album Properties Dialog

  • The Album Title : this will be used in the "Albums" list.

  • The Album Collection : this is a way of grouping your Albums together by a common label. The Collection you set will be used to order your albums when you select By Collection from the drop down box in the tool bar or using ViewSort AlbumsBy Collection. If you want to add and delete Collection labels, use the Collection Settings dialog.

  • The Comments for the Album : this will be shown in the banner at the top of the main Image Window.

  • The Album Date : this will be used when you order your Albums by date using ViewSort AlbumsBy Date.

  • Oldest, Average, Newest buttons : these will set the Date to the oldest, average or latest date of the images in that album. It will first try to calculate the average date of the images in the album based on the EXIF-headers. If that fails it will fall back to the modification date of the files in that folder.

Setting the Album Icon

When you first view an Album, digiKam selects the first photograph in the Album as the icon to display in the "Albums" list. This helps you remember what kind of photographs are contained in an Album. Sometimes the first photograph in the Album is not the most representative and you want to select a different one as the Album icon.

To select a different photograph as the Album icon, right-click on the photograph that you want to use as the Album icon and select "Set as Album Thumbnail" from the context menu. Additionally you can use drag and drop to set the Album icon. Drag the photographs icon and drop it on the currently selected Album in the Album list.


An Album can only be in one Album Collection and Album Collections cannot be nested.

digiKam also supports tagging individual photographs using the "My Tags" area at the left of the main window. Album Collections are different from photograph tagging because the Album Collection applies to all the photographs in an Album rather than to individual photographs. You can use both Album Collections and tagging to organize your photographs.

Image View


The Image Window provides the main view of your images. When you select an Album the images contained in that Album will be displayed in the Image Window. Each image is displayed as a thumbnail. You can alter the size of the thumbnails using the magnifier slider in the lower right of the status bar. The thumbnail size slider

The first time you select an Album you may have to wait briefly while the thumbnails are generated, unless you used the ToolsRebuild all Thumbnails... menu item beforehand.

Information about each photograph is displayed below each thumbnail. You can control what information is displayed from the SettingsConfigure digiKam dialog. Select the Album View page and look for the Icon-View Options section.

The thumbnails have Tool Tips which will pop up if you allow the mouse to dwell over a thumbnail for a moment. The Tool Tip shows the most important properties of the photograph including any tags that you have applied. The screenshot at the top of the Introduction to the Main Window section shows a Tool Tip being displayed.

Image Management

Photographs are what digiKam is all about. Albums and Tags allow you to organize and find your photographs in a way that suits you. You can access all of the functions that digiKam can perform on a photograph by right-clicking the thumbnail (context menu) or by selecting from the Image menu in the menu bar. You have the choice between viewing the images, viewing by slide show, or of editing the images.

Viewing an image

There are several possibilities to view an image. You can either click on it, push ImageView... (F3) or (Enter) or select View from the context menu. The image will take the whole central space of the main window. For viewing it larger, click the sidebars away (by just clicking on them). While viewing images you can take action from the context menu at any time. To get back to the album view, just click again or press (Esc) or (F3) puts you back into the main window. The viewer with thumbnail slider below

Editing a Photograph

You can open the Image Editor on a photograph either using ImageEdit... (F4) or by right-clicking and selecting Edit from the context menu. See the digiKam Image Editor section for instructions on how to edit your photographs. The Image Editor lets you view your photographs and make a number of adjustments to them.

Viewing or Editing a Photograph With Another Application

Sometimes digiKam may not provide all of the capabilities you need. You can open a photograph in another application by right-clicking on it and selecting from the Open With sub-menu. The list of applications that appear in this menu is controlled by the standard KDE file associations for the image format type of this photograph. Consult the KDE manual for instructions on changing these file associations if the application that you need is not listed.

Note that there can be a problem with meta-data embedded in photographs when they are edited by other image manipulation applications. Some applications do not retain the photograph's meta-data when you save a modified image. This means that if you modify a photograph using one of these programs you will lose information such as orientation, aperture etc. that are stored in the EXIF and IPTC tags.

Lossless Image Rotation


You will need to have the Kipi JPEG Lossless Plugin installed for the rotation features. If you do not have this plugin installed you can still rotate your photographs, but you have use the Image Editor. The Image Editor uses a different method of rotating an image, you may not notice any difference but the Image Editor method can cause some loss of quality in the photograph when saving the picture as JPEG. The rotation methods described here uses the Kipi JPEG Lossless Plugin which preserve the quality in the original photograph.

digiKam provides two ways to get your photographs the right way up. The simplest method is to right-click the thumbnail and select Rotate and then pick the correct amount of rotation needed.

Many digital cameras now have an orientation sensor. This sensor can detect how you hold the camera while taking an image. It stores this orientation information inside the image. This meta data is stored in an embedded meta-data section called EXIF. The cameras could rotate the image themselves right away, but they have limited processing power, so they leave this job to an application like digiKam. If the camera is storing the orientation, then digiKam can use it to automatically rotate your photographs so that they are the correct way up when you display them. digiKam will rotate the image on disk according to this orientation information.

The photograph is rotated without loss of quality and the orientation information is set to normal, so that other EXIF-aware applications will handle it correctly. To use this feature, right-click on the thumbnail and select ImageAuto Rotate/Flip Using EXIF Information . The Camera Tool can perform this operation automatically when it uploads the photographs from your camera which will ensure that your photographs are always the right way up. The rotate operation will do nothing if your camera does not include this information in the photos.

Renaming a Photograph

You can change the filename for a photograph by right-clicking a thumbnail and selecting Rename (F2). Remember to keep the file extension (.jpg, .tif, etc.).

Deleting a Photograph

When you delete a photograph from digiKam it will be moved to the KDE Trash Can. ImageDelete (F8) or (Delete) If you prefer that Delete really removes the photograph completely, than you can do that by (Shift Delete)

Deleting works from anywhere in any digiKam windows

Calendar View

Dates View from Main Window

The "Dates" view organizes your photographs based on their dates. digiKam uses either the EXIF date or, if no EXIF date is available, the last modification time of the file.

When you select a month from the list, all images from that month are displayed in the Image View. You can select days or weeks in the date sheet at the bottom of the Date View to show only the images from the selected dates.

Tags View (Keywords)

(Hierarchical) tagging provides a flexible and powerful way to organize and catalog your images. Tags are labels that can be applied to individual images or whole groups. Once a tag has been set to an image it can be found again by selecting the tag or doing a search.

Example 2.2. Selecting a tag and applying a new one

When a tag is selected, all of the images that are marked with that tag are displayed.

Tags can be arranged in a hierarchical tree. This allows you to organize your tags in a logical manner. One can collapse parts of the tree in the "Tags" list so that one can easily find the tags that you are looking for.


Tags are stored in a database for fast access, and, the applied tags are written into IPTC data fields of the image (at least for JPEG). So can use your tags with other programs or, in case of loss of that data in the database, the tags will be re-imported when the image is noticed by digiKam.

Managing Tags

You can add new tags by right-clicking on either the "Tags" label or an existing tag and selecting New Tag. If you add a new tag by right-clicking on an existing tag, your new tag will be created as a sub-tag.

You can delete a Tag by right-clicking on the Tag you want to delete and selecting Delete Tag. When you delete a tag, the photographs themselves are not deleted. Simply the tag is removed from those photographs.

You can move the position of a Tag within the tree by dragging it to the position that you want and dropping it there. A menu will appear that gives you the option to Move the tag. This works from the left and right sidebar. A tag can only be in one place in the tree at a time.

You can set the Tag Properties by right-clicking on a Tag and selecting Edit Tag Properties. The Tag Properties allow you to change the name of the tag and the icon used in the "Tags" tree.

To select a different photograph as the tag icon, right-click on the photograph that you want to use as the tag icon and select "Set as Tag Thumbnail" from the context menu. Additionally you can use drag and drop to set the tag icon. Drag the images icon and drop it on the currently selected tag in the tag list.

Tagging Photographs

Before you can get the most out of digiKam's Tagging capabilities, you must first tag your photographs. There are two methods of tagging photographs. Once you have identified the photographs that you want to tag you can either drag and drop them onto the Tag in the "My Tags" tree or, by right-clicking on the selected photographs in the Image Window, you can use the Assign Tag menu to select the Tags you wish to set.

You can label a photograph with as many tags as you like. The photograph will appear when you select any of the tags that are set against it. This way you can set a tag for each person in a photograph, as well as the place the photograph was taken, the event it was taken at, etc.

Example 2.3. Tagging Image with context menu, or with drag&drop from either sidebar

Once you have tagged a photograph, the tag name will appear under the thumbnail in the Image Window.

You can remove a tag from a photograph by right-clicking on the photograph and using the Remove Tag menu. This menu will only show those tags that have been set on this photograph.

The Timeline

The timeline view shows a timescale-adjustable histogram of the numbers of images per time unit. A selection frame moves over the histogram. To select a time frame just click into the lower square of the selection frame where the time unit is indicated. That will show all corresponding images in the main window.

In the field right below you can enter a title and save your selection. It will then appear in the list field at the bottom.

Example 2.4. The Timeline View in Action

Searches View

The Quick Search

Quick Search is a little box in the status bar and provides you with a simple means to search all data fields in the album library with a single query. You can enter any arguments in the Search text field and it will be used to determine the results. For instance, you can enter the string 'birthday' to search the complete album library for occurrences of the word 'birthday' in all photograph descriptions, or '05.png' to search for a specific image file name '05.png' (no escaping as in regexpressions needed).

Search Properties:

  • searches are case insensitive

  • blank separated search terms are boolean AND combinations

  • special characters are literal and not interpreted ( . * ? / etc.)

  • include all elements of the database: names, rating, keywords, tags, albums, collections, dates (and more in the future)

The Quick Search really works intuitively. If you want to search images from a certain date, you can simply type 2005, but it is even possible to search for a certain month. Just enter the name of the month in your local language. If it is Dutch, you can enter Maart, to see the images of March. The combination of 'Maart 2006' means 'Maart AND 2006' and therefore is equivalent to '2006 Maart'. Or look for 'Maart 2007 cr2' to find all RAW files of March 2007.

Next to the search box is a little LED that turns green if the search has results. Just click on it to reset the filtering and show all images again. If the search is not succeessful, the LED turns red.

Example 2.5. Quick Search Tool Dialog in Action

Searches proper

The more sophisticated search tool is a tab on the left sidebar (binocular icon). If you open it, you will be presented with a simple search box the works as described above, except that you can save this search as a live folder that always filters for what you entered as search criteria. When saved, the filter will appear in the list.

When you are satisfied with your selection, click on the Ok button, and the search will be carried out, and the results displayed in "My Search" view from the main window. The Save search as text field will be used to label your query in "My Search" list. If you want to modify your selection after performing a search, simply right click on the item from "My Search" view and select an option from the pop-up menu.

Example 2.6. Quick Search Tool Dialog in Action

If you select Edit Search, the search form will re-appear, containing your previous search information. If you select Edit as Advanced Search, the advanced search tool dialog will be come up to modify your previous search information using more elaborate search rules. See the The Advanced Search Tool section for more information.

If you want to remove an existing search from the list, just select Delete Search from the pop-up menu.

Example 2.7. Search View from Main Window

The Advanced Search Tool

Advanced Search tool provides an extended search form with a wealth of search parameters, which can be used to search in specific fields of the digiKam albums database.

The Search Rules list is used to set all options to process a search query in the albums database. All rules are listed vertically and separated by an operator. An option can be added or deleted to the list using Add Search Group/Remove Group. Each option can be combined with another one using Meet all.. or Meet any... or one of these... At least one... logical operators. Thus, one can construct searches of the type "AND NOT".

Fuzzy Searches/Duplicates

digiKam characterizes every image by a legthy number using a special technique (Haar algorithm) that make it possible to compare images by comparing this calculated signature. The less numerical difference there is between any two image signatures, the more they resemble each other. This technique has three implementations

  • Similar items: This is a drag&drop zone where you can drop any image to find a similar one. A threshold can be modified in order to narrow down or enlarge the resulting selection. Drag an image from anywhere over the fuzzy search icon in the left sidebar, it will open and you drop it there.

  • Sketch: free hand color sketching: draw a quick sketch and digiKam will find corresponding images. Again a threshold can be set.

  • Duplicates: after digiKam has scanned all collections you will find a list of duplicates here. It's up to you of course to decide what to do with them. From the menu ToolsRebuild all fingerprints... you can initiate a total rebuild of the image signatures (may take hours if you have a large collection, an estimate is 2 hours for 10'000 images) or from the bottom you can just rescan, which is much faster. Find duplicates will do just that, but it will take a long time too as it has to compare every image with any other image. Fortunately, you can refine your search by albums and/or tags.

Example 2.8. Fuzzy search for similar image

Example 2.9. Find duplicates while restricting to an album

Map Searches

This tab provides an intuitive map search tool based on the marble widget. You can zoom in and out with the mousewheel by either scrolling it or hold and drag it. Pan by holding down the left mouse button. Press the Ctrl-left mouse button to pull-up a square as indicated. All images falling within the coordinates of that square will be filtered and shown (provided your images have been geo-coded of course).

In the box below you can enter a name for your geo filter. It will be added to the list view below for future reference, it acts as a live geo folder.

Example 2.10. The Map Searches tab