Elements' Organizer uses catalogs to manage your photos behind the scenes. A catalog is a database that contains information about each photo that you import. When you bring a photo into the Organizer, Elements doesn't really import that photo in the generic sense of the word import; instead, it creates a record of that photo in the currently active catalog. Before you start importing files, let's take a minute to understand catalogs, so that you get them set up the way you want them from the get-go. As I said, an Organizer catalog contains a record of each photo that you bring into that catalog.
What's in that record? For one thing, there's a small copy of the photo that's displayed here in the Media Browser area of the Organizer. This isn't the actual photo; it's just a thumbnail-sized copy of the actual photo. The catalog also contains a link to the actual photo wherever you happen to store that photo on your computer or an external drive, or even on a CD or DVD. That link between the Organizer catalog and your photo is an important one, and you want to be careful not to break it by moving your photo on your hard drive or renaming your photo on your hard drive.
All of that sort of work should be done from inside the Organizer, as I'll show you how to do later in the course. In addition to the thumbnail copy of the photo and the link to the photo, a catalog also contains information about the photo. Some of that information comes from your digital camera. That includes the name of the file, the time at which you took a photo, and technical information, like the F- stop and the shutter speed that you used when you shot the photo. The catalog can contain information that you add to the photo, here in the Organizer.
For example, I'm going to show you later in the course how to add keyword tags from over in the column on the right that identify photos by their subject matter, and that information would be in the catalog as well. So that's what's in an Organizer catalog: not actual photos, but rather information about each photo that you bring into that catalog. By the way, a catalog can include not only photos but other media files as well, like videos, audio files, PDFs, and special Elements creations, like books and calendars, that I'll show you how to make later in the course.
Now, let's talk about the number of catalogs you're going to use in your Organizer. When you launch the Organizer, it starts off with one default catalog. You can see the name of that catalog down here at the bottom-left of the Organizer. It's called Mycatalog by default. It's a good idea to decide upfront whether you're going to use just one catalog for all your photos or whether you're going to create multiple catalogs for different categories of photos. My advice is this: if all your photos are personal shots, put them all in one catalog.
There are a couple of reasons for that. First, Elements can search through only one catalog at a time, so it will be easier to locate a particular photo if all your photos are in just one catalog. And second, it's just easier to keep track of one catalog than to have to remember which of many catalogs contains particular files. A single catalog like this default catalog can contain thousands of photos, and there are lots of ways to organize photos within a catalog, as we'll see. So you don't have to have multiple catalogs. Having said that, there are some circumstances in which it does make sense to have separate catalogs.
For example, if you shoot photos for different clients, you might have a separate catalog for each client. And if you're using the official exercise files for this course, or if you're going to use some practice photos of your own, I suggest you create a separate catalog for just those files. And the reason is that a separate catalog will keep the exercise files or your practice files for this course from getting mixed in with your own personal photos. So how do you make an additional catalog for your exercise files? To do that, I'll go up to the File menu at the top of the Organizer and I'll choose catalog, and that opens the Catalog Manager, which is command central for managing catalogs.
In this box, you can see a list of all the catalogs that I currently have. I just have the one default catalog Mycatalog. If I had already made other catalogs, they would appear in this list. There are lots of things I can do to a catalog in the Catalog Manager. If I select a catalog here, I can give the catalog a new name. I can move it to a different location on my hard drive. I can optimize the catalog, so if the thumbnails in the catalog aren't displaying properly, or if the catalog seems to be working slowly, I can optimize its performance with this button.
And if the catalog has been damaged, say by a power outage, I can repair the catalog with this button. And if I've created a catalog in an earlier version of Photoshop Elements than the current version, Elements 10, I can convert it to an Elements 10 catalog using this button. In this case, what I want to do is create a brand-new catalog for just the exercise files or other practice files for this course. And for that, I'll click this button, the New button. That opens this window where I can name my new catalog. I'm going to call this Ex Files. And I'm not going to bother to import free music into this catalog.
I'll just click OK. That closes the Catalog Manager, and it switches me out of that default catalog where I was storing my personal photos that you saw a second ago, and into my brand-new, empty, Exercise Files catalog. And if you look at the very bottom-left of the screen, you'll see that this is the Exercise Files catalog. Now that I have multiple catalogs, I can switch between them by going back up to the File menu and opening the Catalog Manager again by selecting Catalog and choosing my other catalog here.
So I could switch back to Mycatalog. But I'm going to stick with the Exercise Files catalog. So I'll just cancel out of this dialog box. For most of the rest of this course, we're going to be working in our new Exercise Files catalog, so do check the bottom-right of your Organizer, where the name of the currently active catalog is displayed, and make sure it says Ex Files. In the very next movie, I'm going to show you how to bring in the official exercise files for this course into this catalog, so do stay tuned for that movie.
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