The File Browser Tab

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The File Browser tab.

The File Browser tab is where you review your photos, select photos for editing, or perform batch-editing operations. It consists of the following parts:

  • The left panel
    • The "Places" panel on the top links to your home folder, USB card readers, the system's default "photos" folder, or custom folders.
    • Below this is a standard tree-type file browser that you can use to navigate to folders containing your photos. RawTherapee does not complicate things by requiring you to import photos into databases as some other software do.
  • The right panel
    • The "Develop" tab allows you to apply tool settings to the selected image or images. This allows you to quickly enable some tool in many photos at once.
    • The "Inspect" tab shows a preview at a fixed scale of 100% of the image your mouse cursor is hovering over, which is either the largest JPEG image embedded in the raw file, or the image itself when hovering over non-raw images.
    • The "Filter" tab lets you show only photos which match the parameters you specify.
    • The "Fast Export" tab lets you quickly process the selected images by bypassing certain tools even if they are enabled in the processing profiles of those images, so that you can get a quick preview of the raw files for example to delete the shots which are blurry or out of focus.
  • The central panel shows thumbnails of the folder currently selected.

You can hide the individual panels using the "Show/Hide the left panel Panel-to-left.png" and "Show/Hide the right panel Panel-to-right.png" buttons - see the Keyboard Shortcuts page.

When you open a folder, RawTherapee will generate thumbnails of the photos in that folder in the central panel. The first time you open a folder full of raw photo files (we'll refer to folders full of photos as "albums"), RawTherapee will read each file and create a thumbnail based on the embedded JPEG image (every raw photo has an embedded JPEG image, sometimes even a few of various sizes). This can take some time on larger albums, but it only happens the first time you open an album. All subsequent times you go to a previously opened folder, RawTherapee will read the thumbnails from its cache if they exist, and this will be much faster than the first time you opened that folder.

The JPEG image embedded in each raw photo is identical to the out-of-camera JPEG image you would get if you shot in JPEG mode (or in "RAW+JPEG" mode). This JPEG is not representative of the actual raw data in that photo, because your camera applies all kinds of tweaks to the JPEG image, such as increasing the exposure a bit, increasing saturation, contrast, sharpening, etc.

After you start editing a photo, its thumbnail in the File Browser tab is replaced with what you see in the preview in the Editor tab, and every tweak you make is reflected in the thumbnail. The thumbnails are stored in the cache for quick future access. If you want to revert to the embedded JPEG image as the thumbnail, then right-click on the thumbnail (or selection of thumbnails) and select "Processing Profile Operations > Clear".

Use the zoom icons in the File Browser's top toolbar to make the thumbnails smaller or larger. Each thumbnail uses some memory (RAM), so it is advisable not to set the thumbnail size too high ("Preferences > File Browser > Maximal Thumbnail Height").

You can filter the visible photos by using the buttons in the File Browser's or Filmstrip's top toolbar, as well as by using the "Find" box or the "Filter" tab. Possible uses:

  • Show only unedited photos,
  • Show only photos bracketed +2EV,
  • Show only photos ranked as 5 star,
  • Show only photos with a specific ISO range,
  • Show only photos with a NEF extension.

Batch Adjustments - Sync

RawTherapee lets you batch-adjust, or sync, the processing settings in many photos at the same time in generally two ways. It lets you copy and paste a processing profile (a collection of tool settings), in parts or in full, to any number of images. It also lets you select any number of images and adjust any tool in all of them at once (sync), and it lets you do this in two ways. Let's take a closer look.

Both ways involve making a selection of photos you want the processing profile or adjustments applied to. Selections are made using standard key combinations: Shift+click to select a range, Ctrl+click to select individual images, or Ctrl+A to select everything. Both ways are performed from the File Browser tab. The "copypasta" method can also be done via the Filmstrip.


Copying and pasting a processing profile to a selection of images is a very common task. Assume you took a series of photos - for example studio shots, wedding portraits or focus-bracketed macro photos. All images in each series are going to be very similar; they will probably use the same lens, the same ISO, the same white balance, and end up being used for the same purpose. This means that they will all probably require the same processing settings - the same noise reduction, the same sharpening and lens distortion correction, and so forth.

To process the lot, what you would usually do is open any one image from the whole series in the Editor tab and tweak it to your liking. Once you have finished tweaking it, you will apply this image's processing profile to all other images in the same series. To do that, go to the File Browser tab, right-click on this photo and select "Processing Profile Operations > Copy", then select the images you want to apply this profile to, right-click on any one of them (it doesn't matter which) and select "Processing Profile Operations > Paste". In one quick operation you have replicated the same tool settings in the whole series of images.

Additionally, RawTherapee lets you apply only a part of the copied processing profile, for example only the "Resizing" tool. To do this, use the "Processing Profile Operations > Paste Partial" option instead of the "Paste" option.


RawTherapee lets you instantly apply tool adjustments to a selection of images. Similar functionality in other software is called "sync". This method is useful for when you don't need to see an accurate preview of your changes, for example when you only want to enable the "Resizing" tool in a selection of photos, because when working in the File Browser tab your only preview are the small and inaccurate thumbnails. This method can only be performed from the File Browser tab because you need access to that tab's batch tools (the panel on the right).

When you're in the File Browser tab, select the images you want to batch-adjust (sync), then use the tool panel on the right to make adjustments. Your tweaks can either replace the existing ones ("Set" mode), or be added to them ("Add" mode). For example if you select two photos, one of which has previously been tweaked with +1EV Exposure Compensation and one which has not, and you set Exposure Compensation to +0.6EV, then the previously-tweaked photo would end up having +1.6EV Exposure Compensation in "Add" mode and just +0.6EV in "Set" mode. The photo which was not previously tweaked would have +0.6EV in both modes. You can decide which tools should work in which mode from the Batch Processing tab in Preferences.