How to get started again, with DarkTable and Mac

I’m not sure where to ask this question - I started out with DarkTable long ago, then got wrapped up in PhotoLab, and didn’t get back to DarkTable for a while - only to find that my version didn’t seem to work any more. So, I’ve been trying to find out where to download the latest version, and where to go when I get stuck and need help.

I’ll be using a Mac, and what would help the most is a step-by-step guide to learn where to download from, and what, if any, setup questions I might have. I used to go to a forum, long ago, but that seems to have been shut down.

I do a lot of volunteer work in India, and most people there can’t afford the major photography editors, and are very interested in how to get started with DarkTable. Because of my desire to help them, I figured I need to learn all this myself, before I return. That is what prompted my desire to get all this figured out again. Some people there use Mac, but the majority have Windows based computers - which I used to understand, a lifetime ago…

Any advice?

have a look at install | darktable section macos.
If there’re older macos versions used you might have also a look here: darktable 4.6.1 for older macOS versions (10.14 & 11.3)

darktable runs fine on macs with macos > 10.14

Good starting point:

Well, with some help from Apple Tech Support, I was able to install marketable 4.6.1 on my 2023 MacBook Pro (with M2 chip). I expected to see all my photos in the folders, but apparently they only contain photos I have imported into this computer.

I was able to import 7 new photos taken a few days ago. So far, so good.

Before I move on, is this what I’m supposed to see?

At the top left, under “folder” it shows four probably old photos, and the one new folder I created named “2024”.

Can I clear out the folders listed above it? One of them is from the last time I attempted to learn DarkTable in 2021.

It’s a start. Eventually I hope to learn this well enough to use it, and to teach it to friends of mine in India.

you should be able to “import” also the other photos that are on your hard drive. They will not show up automatically. Import means you add them to the darktable database.

The way I normally do things, is to use Photo Mechanic to put my new photos in a folder maybe:

Photos / 2024 / June / trip-to-beach June 11

…and then go to that folder in PhotoLab, and select which of all these photos I want to work on.

So, going to this same folder with DarkTable won’t see anything there, until I import those images into the DarkTable database.

Am I correct so far? If so, I need to create a folder inside my “Photos” folder on my Mac and then either import that folder, or all the images inside that folder? This will my next step later today. I used to know all this. Maybe at 80, my mind isn’t as clear as it used to be.

At the bottom of my “lightable” window, I see a row of boxes, apparently for “years”, starting with 2005 and ending with 2024, where my recent photos are.

How do I change this screen, to show this:

Ideally, I would like one photo in the main window, and a row at the bottom showing all my 8 photos in this folder?

Here’s what I see now:

Hmmm, under “views”, if I change from "lighttable"to “darkroom”, I get to see what I was looking for.

Well, I broke it. For a few minutes I had my selected image in the main window, and all eight images down at the bottom. I clicked on a single “star” to see what would happen - sure enough, now it has one star selected, but the window at the bottom showing all my images vanished. Trying to get back to where I was, so all the images remain at the bottom of the screen…

There is a truly magnificent (on line) manual, of more than 300 pages, which would answer all of your questions. You need, at the very least, to look at the first section to get an initial grasp on this fairly complex piece of software.

Thank you David - what is the link to this manual?

This one? darktable 4.0 user manual - darktable

That’s the one!

Well, I seem to have broken it. My images vanished, and when I click on the “recently used collections”, nothing shows up in the middle window.

Is there a button to re-set my DarkTable to the default values?

I think I need a “getting started” list, before I can make use of the manual.

I used “add to library” to add my 8 photos.
Should I have used “copy & import” ?

You probably want the latest user manual: darktable 4.6 user manual - Darkroom

Aha! I will go there - hopefully I can save the whole thing to a file on my Mac.

Is there a “getting started” guide for newbies?

OK, I will start here:

darktable 4.6 user manual - import & review

Thank you!!!

You can get a PDF of the manual from the main page; getting started is here: darktable 4.6 user manual - an introduction to darktable's workflow

Have downloaded the manual, and am following the instructions. Reviewing the images, I gave each a 1-star rating, which I now know would have happened automatically.

For four of them, I gave them a two-star rating, then clicked on the “two star collection”, so only those four images were selected.

Before I go further, why are all the images in the middle panel so small? I think that they should be shown automatically at whatever size fits the window on my scree? I haven’t knowingly done anything to change that???

I see “global options” is 1200 x 800 … but I did not set that. Shouldn’t it automatically be set to what fits the window?

See the 3 on the bottom…make it what you like…sounds like you want that at 1?? Your left and right panes are pretty big… you could drag them smaller …make one or the other disappear if you are not using it in that moment or use tab to remove it all to see a full size image…there are other options as well… i think all are explained fairly well in the manual… also holding down the h key bring up a list of all the shortcuts that you can use…

Aha! So if I change 3 to 2, I see two images, and yes, if I set it to 1, I have what I want, just one image, and all 8 possible images down at the bottom row. Thank you.

The two side panels are large, as I guess I need to learn what is there, eventually.

Shortcuts? Yikes, I need to first learn the proper terminology, before I even consider “shortcuts”.

So, 1200 x 800 will be the size of an image I export from within DarkTable. Useful information.

“Target Storage” in the right pane - I have no idea why that information is shown, as I’m working with images in a different location.

Image Information - wow, now I know where to find this info.

I’m still “learning”, not “doing”, but one by one, I will try the adjustment controls, starting with “horizon”. I imagine I need to switch to “darkroom” before doing any of that.

I’m not “comfortable” yet, but I no longer feel “lost”. But one click in the wrong place might mess me up completely, again. :slight_smile:

There are some keys that can quickly toggle things …they can be handy and the real power will come once you make some presets in the modules… You experiment and find what works for you and then you can save them as a preset…presets can be auto applied so that can be handy at times…

Actually, with me still being in “kindergarten”, the last thing I want to do is save time, or do things more quickly.

I finally found out how to use the CROP tool, but I haven’t yet found what to click on to do the crop, and bring me back to my now-cropped image. Maybe I need new glasses…

This is like a giant puzzle. To me, there should be a “SAVE” button. OK, back to the manual…