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Hidden Features of Capture One Pro: Redeploy as a Fast Browser

Why use Capture One Pro as a fast browser?

In theory, Capture One can’t be used to browse until images are imported into either a Catalog or a Session. And, in my opinion, it’s this design that makes Capture One Pro a little daunting for new users, as you’re immediately asked to make a choice between them before you can use it. However, in practice, there is an (unofficial and therefore unsupported) “third” way to use it, and that is as a fast browser.

One of the downsides of RAW converters like this is that you have to import images through a “gatekeeper” (the import, or ‘importer’) app. Once files have passed through this (and of course, it makes sense to use the import feature to copy files from memory cards) you can use Capture One to browse freely. However,  you can bypass the “importer” or import feature of Capture One Pro and use it like a conventional browser.

Why would you want to use Capture One Pro as a fast browser?

Well, searching visually is often the best, and sometimes the only, way to find images. And using Capture One Pro this way is fast – you don’t have to open individual Sessions and Catalogs. The downsides are few as well – some minor features aren’t supported and you can only view RAW files from cameras that are supported by your version of Capture One, obvs, unless it’s a DNG of course.

Here’s how:

  1. First, open Capture One and then create a new Session. As you’re not importing files, and want to use it as a browser only, call it something unique. I use the term ‘Capture One Browsing Session’, and then I know exactly what it is. Don’t be tempted to use the built-in Session folders to store files.
  2. Next, go to the Library tool tab and the Library tool. Expand it fully to help you navigate the folders.
  3. After that, simply click on the folder icons to view your image files. You will need to open sub-folders if there are any (obviously there will be if you’ve used Sessions in the past). Images will load very quickly and the cache is stored locally so it is fast, or even faster, when you return to them after navigating away.
  4. That’s it! You are now using Capture One Pro as a browser.
  5. When the time comes to use a Catalog or Session, simply go to the Library tool tab, select the Library brick and either, depending on your intention, create a new document (Session or Catalog), or select an existing document from the pull-down menu.

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