Filter the images shown in the lighttable view and filmstrip panel using image attributes. This set of filtered images is known as a collection.

Importing images into darktable stores information about them (filename, path, Exif data, data from XMP sidecar files etc.) in darktable’s library database. A collection may be defined by applying filtering rules to these attributes, thus creating a subset of images to display in the lighttable view and the filmstrip module.

The default collection is based on the film roll attribute and displays all images of the last imported or selected film roll.

🔗filtering attributes

The images in a collection can be filtered using the following image attributes:


film roll
The name of the film roll to which the image belongs (which is the same as the name of the folder in which the image resides). Ctrl+Shift+click on a film roll to switch to the corresponding folder. Right-click to remove the contents of the film roll from the darktable library or tell darktable that its location has changed in the file system.
The folder (file path) where the image file is located. Click on a folder to include the contents of that folder and all sub-folders in the collection; Shift+click to include only the images in the selected folder; Ctrl+click to show only the images from any sub-folders; Ctrl+Shift+click to switch to the corresponding film roll. Right-click on a folder name to remove its contents from the darktable library or tell darktable that its location has changed in the file system.
The image’s filename.


Any tag that is attached to the image. Untagged images are grouped under the “not tagged” entry. When activated, a hierarchical list of known tags is displayed
The image’s metadata “title” field.
The image’s metadata “description” field.
The image’s metadata “creator” field.
The image’s metadata “publisher” field.
The image’s metadata “rights” field.
The image’s metadata “notes” field.
version name
The image’s metadata “version name” field.
The image’s star rating
color label
Any color label attached to the image (“red”, “yellow”, “green”, “blue”, “purple”).
The geo location of the image (see locations).


capture date
The date the photo was taken, in the format YYYY:MM:DD.
capture time
The date & time the photo was taken, in the format YYYY:MM:DD hh:mm:ss.
import time
The date/time the file was imported, in the format YYYY:MM:DD hh:mm:ss.
modification time
The date/time the file was last changed, in the format YYYY:MM:DD hh:mm:ss.
export time
The date/time the file was last expoted, in the format YYYY:MM:DD hh:mm:ss.
print time
The date/time the file was last printed, in the format YYYY:MM:DD hh:mm:ss.

🔗capture details

The Exif data entry describing the camera make and model.
The description of the lens, as derived from Exif data.
The aperture, as derived from Exif data.
The shutter speed, as derived from Exif data.
focal length
The focal length, as derived from Exif data.
The ISO, as derived from Exif data.
aspect ratio
The aspect ratio of the image, including any cropping within darktable.


Choose between “group followers” and “group leaders”.
local copy
Show files that are, or are not copied locally.
Choose images whose history stacks have been altered or not.
Filter based on the processing modules that have been applied to the image.
module order
Choose images with “v3.0”, “legacy” or “custom” module orders.

🔗module controls

🔗defining filter criteria

The top line of the module can be used to define filter criteria for your collection as follows:

image attribute
The combobox on the left allows you to choose which attribute to use to filter your collection.
search pattern
In the text field to the right of the attribute combobox, you can write a matching pattern. This pattern is compared against all database entries with the selected attribute. The filtering mechanism detects a match if any image’s attribute contains the pattern in its full text. You may use % as wildcard character. The collection will be limited to only the matching images. Leave the text field empty to match all images having that attribute. Where applicable, a tooltip will appear if you hover over the attribute or search pattern to provide additional information.

Attributes with numerical or date/time attributes can be used in combination with comparative and range operators. Use <, <=, >, >=, <>, or = to select images with attributes less than, less than or equal, greater than, greater than or equal, not equal, or equal to the given value, respectively. An expression in the form [from;to] can be used to select using a range of values.

select by value
As well as defining filter criteria using a search pattern, you can also manually choose from a list of values (for the chosen attribute) taken from the currently-matching set of images. Making such a selection will automatically populate the “search pattern” field.

The box below the search pattern will list values for the selected attribute that are present in the currently-selected images. This list is continuously updated as you type. You may also choose a sorting criteria by scrolling through the list and double-clicking.

If you enable single-click mode (see preferences > lighttable) you can select with a single-click rather than double-click. This mode also allows you to select a range of values with the mouse. This only works for numerical and date-time attributes.

🔗combining multiple filters

You can combine multiple filters together to create more complex collections of images using a series of rules. A rule is a combination of a filter criteria along with a logical operation that defines how that criteria is combined with any previous rules.

Click on the collect-expander-icon button (to the right of the search field) to open a menu with the following options:

clear this rule
Remove the current rule, or reset it if this is the only rule defined.
narrow down search
Add a new rule, which is combined with the previous rule(s) in a logical AND operation. An image is only retained as part of the collection if it also fulfills the new criteria.
add more images
Add a new rule, which is combined with the previous rule(s) in a logical OR operation. Images that fulfill the new criteria are added to the collection.
exclude images
Add a new rule, which is combined with the previous rule(s) in a logical EXCEPT operation. Images that fulfill the new criteria are removed from the collection.

The logical operators defining how rules are combined are indicated with icons to the right of each added rule: AND by the collect-and-icon symbol, OR by the collect-or-icon symbol, and EXCEPT by the collect-except-icon symbol. Click on any of these icons to change the logical operation for that rule.

🔗updating the folder path of moved images

While it is best to not touch imported files behind darktable’s back, this module can help you to recover from situations when you have moved or renamed image folders after importing them. The collections module has a feature that allows you to update darktable’s library database with the new folder location. The process is as follows:

  1. Set the image attribute combobox to “folder” or “film roll”.
  2. The original film roll or folder name will be displayed with strikethrough formatting to emphasize that it can not be located.
  3. Right-click on the folder or film roll name, select “search filmroll…”, and then select the new location of the folder.

🔗returning to a previous collection

You can return to a previously-defined collection by clicking on the history button at the bottom of the module or using the recently used collections module – see the preferences section for more details.


The “preferences…” option in the presets menu allows you to adjust the behavior of the collections module as follows:

do not set the ‘uncategorized’ entry for tags
Do not set the ‘uncategorized’ category for tags that do not have children (default off).
tag case sensitivity
Set whether tags should be case sensitive or not – without the sqlite ICU extension this will only apply to the 26 latin letters (default insensitive).
number of collections to be stored
Set the number of recent collections to show in the history popup (if present).
hide the history button and show a specific module instead
Choose how to view your collections history – you can either use the history button in this module or use the recently used collections module.
number of folder levels to show in lists
The number of folder levels to show in film roll names, starting from the right (default 1).
sort film rolls by
Sort film rolls by either the “folder” (path) or the “id” (roughly equivalent to the date the film rolls were first imported) (default “id”).
sort collections descending
Sort the following collections in descending order: “film roll” (when sorted by folder), “folder”, date/time (e.g. date/time taken) (default on)