Cropping is difficult to use in RawTherapee

The goal of software must be usability. It doesn’t matter how wonderful it is if people cannot use it. It’s all very well to demonstrate ideological purity, but there is no need to bash the user over the head with it.

Cropping is a common, simple task that is unnecessarily difficult to do in RawTherapee.

The expected workflow goes something like this:

  • press a key to enter “cropping mode”, “C” seems like a good choice.

  • Crop the image by dragging crop marks.

  • Press a key to commit the crop, “Enter” maybe.

  • The new view of the image then becomes the default view of the image.

If I press a key to have my image fill the frame then I want the new crop to fill the frame, not for my image to shrink down if it is only a fraction of the main image. I don’t want to have to press a different, special, key to zoom when the image is cropped. I don’t want the Rule of Thirds guide to stay on my image once I have committed the crop: I do want it to reappear instantly, along with the rest of the image when if I once again enter cropping mode.

Is there any chance we could find a better way to do this in RawTherapee?


Committing a crop - no such thing necessary or even possible

Having cropping enable the “rule of thirds” guide can be disabled by us.

Having “zoom to crop” performed automatically after cropping could be easily done too. But this is the kind of thing that might annoy more people than it would please. Is anyone else interested in this? Is pressing “f” really so hard?

I think it is necessary to make the system more useable. Saying it is impossible seems ridiculous.

Please explain.

But it’s not “f” is it? It’s Alt-F in this special case. Which proves my point that the current system is arcane.

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You wrote that one must press some keyboard shortcut to commit the crop. I wrote that that is not true and not even possible because it is applied immediately as soon as you “draw” it.

I can edit the code if I’m convinced this is desired by a majority of users.

Yes, Alt+f. My hand does the key presses. I wouldn’t be able to tell you half of passwords, but my hand knows them when needed. Me mis-typing a keyboard shortcut doesn’t prove anything though. There is a button for zoom-to-crop, and the button has a tooltip which tells you what the keyboard shortcut is, and the whole thing is documented in RawPedia. As I wrote, making RT automatically zoom to the cropped part can be done, but first prove that having the preview zoom and position change won’t piss off more users than it will please.

I don’t say I will implement it, but wouldn’t the following solve the Issue at least partly?

A shortcut which does:

  1. set cropped out area to background colour
  2. sets crop guide to ‘none’
  3. fits to crop
  4. changes the functionality of ‘f’ to ‘Fit to crop’
  5. disables the crop tool or sends an email to you with the question how to handle the crop tool when crop is committed (missing concept here) :wink:

Of course we need then too:
A shortcut to undo all of the above in case you want to change your (committed) crop.
Please don’t tell me you’ll never do that :stuck_out_tongue:


For this kind of tools, I find the way Darktable works quite practical, however this requires some sort of “active tool” concept: when the crop tool is activated, the preview shows the whole image with the crop region and the handles to modify it; when the crop tool is de-activated, only the cropped area is shown in the preview.

I think that many users, including myself, want to see only the cropped area in the preview, and completely hide the crop border. This is the only way (at least for me) to finally judge if I like or not a given crop.

At least on my OSX system, when I hit the “fit to crop” button the preview still shows part of the cropped border, and I think this can be a bit distracting…

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Of all the tools I implemented, crop was the hardest.It didn’t help that my display window was coded to, well, display, and I struggled to implement a crop frame over, then eventually in, that window.I never completely debugged it, and certain combinations of tools around it would make it crash for reasons I never could divine. User-wise, I never could come up with a scheme to show the finished crop either toggled over or somehow combined with the original image with the crop tool.

This past weekend, I scrapped it in favor of a separate smaller window for the crop tool, which constantly updates the display. I like it much better, and it’s way more reliable. I know my crop resolution is compromised, but I haven’t found a situation yet where it kept me from doing the crop I wanted.

I’ve used quite a few crop tools, and I like the ones best that let you first shape the crop window size, then drag it around the frame to suit. Others, particularly ones you can’t drag around, not so intuitive for me. YMMV.


I like most of these suggestions :slight_smile: The email one is a masterstroke. Obviously the recrop key must be “C”.

I also have a problem with current system in that the whole, rather than cropped image is shown in the file browser. With the cropping guide obscuring it. Sometimes it is necessary to crop alot and in these cases the file browser becomes less useful as the image is too small.

I agree one hundred percent with this statement. In fact, that was the thing that confused me the most about RawTherapee’s crop tool. It took me quite a while to figure out that there was a separate cursor tool to drag the crop selection window around on the image! Although it works fine once I figured it out, it was certainly not immediately intuitive.

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I also agree with this. I need to make the cropped out portions of the image “go away” before I can judge finally if I like my crop.

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Of course I absolutely should have RTFM! :innocent:

But also of course, I instead decided to just try and wing it!!! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Can I now raise an issue suggesting making the cropping work flow like this:

  • Press “C” to enter cropping mode

  • Cropping guide appears only in crop mode. Crop the image by dragging crop marks.

  • Press Enter to commit the crop, Cropping guide (eg Rule of Thirds) disappears. The new view of the image then becomes the default view of the image.

  • The “F” key zooms the cropped part of the image to fill the frame, not the whole unwanted part of the image. The special Alt-F always shows the whole image. F always shows the visible (cropped) part.

  • Pressing C again zooms out to show whole image an allows existing crop to be adjusted or removed.

Cropping is a basic functionality that should™ be intuitive for any user, especially people who have worked in image processing before.

I’m pretty sure that in the last 17years of editing photos, rawtherapee is the only tool that had me reading the manual to figure out how it works.

The current implementation is definitely not abiding by the rule of least surprise: When cropping, I want the cropped out stuff to go away.


FWIW, I don’t :slight_smile:
I am almost never happy with my crop right after selecting it. I always need to tweak it a little bit (resize, move, maybe change proportion). I love the fact that RT keeps the rest of the image visible (faded out) and doesn’t automatically apply zoom to fit to the cropped area.

OTOH, if you really want the cropped out stuff to go away, that’s pretty easy to do:



I second the more automated crop behavior, at least as an optional config!

The fewer clicks or interactions the better (duh), and almost all images need cropping (or at least the majority). If we want a fast workflow for handling many images, if we have default presets for most other parts, but crop mostly can’t be, then a few clicks in crop become a high percentage of the total work…for clicks/interactions that can easily be programmed away.

Suggestion similar to what others have mentioned:

  • When switching to another tool after cropping (no “enter” needed, or an optional enter or similar way to “apply”), please add a config that enables an automated ctrl+f and clicking the “hide cropped-area-button”, which would then work as most other tools for those that prefer that
  • When enabling the crop tool, let there be corners that are already drag-able (removing the need to first draw a rectangle, again, unnecessary interaction in many cases)
  • For bonus points, let there be an area in the image (outside the crop as in another popular tool) to adjust rotation…the slider is pretty sensitive, and you first need to hit it, but when dragging in the image, it’s easier to get a “fulcrum” further away from the center of rotation (in the middle of the current crop) making it easier to adjust small angles than fiddling with the slider or manually testing different numerical angles until satisfied.

(Background for my reasoning: I work with radiology image software, where radiologist salaries are huge and being able to do the work with less clicks/time is key…I understand the goal may not be the same here, but this behavior is outrageous from my point of view, users all over the world spending time on this on every image…and if history is the reason, at least add config for it so users can choose, or let go of the old ways and admit that other programs did this part better and allow yourself to change!)

Especially now that many are dissatisfied with the Lightroom subscription model and are looking for alternatives, we’re missing an opportunity to get a chunk of the fleeing userbase.

Thank you!

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Perhaps you or your workplace would be interested in sponsoring that work?

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For me, I can live with how RT handles cropping of the image, but I would like to see the cropping factor along with the absolute dimensions. Of course when the final format is different from that of the initial image this would be something like an ‘equivalent crop ratio’. And I think we can go even further showing the resulting focal lenght, from a perspective point of view.

What were these open source developers thinking when they implemented this outrageous tool for free, wasting radiologists valuable time like that? :man_facepalming:


Guys, sorry for my snobbish attitude, I understand that it is done for free (and the radiologist using our software are not us…we’re just paid lowly software dev salaries =))

Being a developer myself until recently, reading ggbuthcers comment I can understand it’s not just a quick change with the bugs mentioned, so suggested an implementation that works by more or less automating already existing (properly functioning?) funcationality. And now having a product owner role now I can understand that there are many more aspects to consider than just changing a default behavior all current users are used to, so suggested it be added as a config (although I would vote this behavior be the default one).

That said, I still think this should be a higher priority compared to for example adding new exotic wavelets or ways to affect color space. Those are important too, to some (relatively few?) users, but crop is something every user does on almost every image…making those tools as efficient as possible would be a top priority, at least as we work.

So why don’t I do it myself you’ll ask I guess…aside from the minor point of getting used to a new language, but more the plattform/application and dev environment itself, I can barely manage my own life now between small kids and other obligations, but trying to be helpful by pointing out what should be an obvious priority from my perspective.

But I apologize that expressed myself in a patronizing way, I should have known better!