howto remove collections in darktable ?


i am still relatively new to darktable and after playing around i run into two problems with collections.

First Problem: i want to remove a collection, but i can’t find any options like “remove collections” or something like that.
So for what do i need this option ? I often do some work on site and immediate edit pictures on clients site. Back home i do a second edit and then move all the files onto my NAS in different folders(i.e. 2020-06-29/raw, 2020-06-29-jpg-social media, 2020-06-29/jpg ttv widescreen and so on). As a last step i want to remove the collection with all pictures on my notebook since the job is done and there is no need of holding pictures on the notebook.

Second Problem: previously in my “old” Software i had a, lets say, library in which i collected a whole year. If i am in need to get rid of photos from 2016 i simply opened the library 2016 and there are all my collections of this year. I was not able to find any similar in darktable. Any ideas ?

I am using darktable 2.6.0 on Debian 10 Buster.

Thank you in advance for any help


in darktable a “collection” (film roll) is generated automatically for each folder in which there is an imported image, you can’t “create” or “delete” it by itself.

:warning: CAUTION: these instructions will delete any record darktable has of your edits. If you want to keep them for future use, you must enable the “write sidecar file for each image” option (in “core options”), and backup the resulting xmp files with your RAW files. :warning:

  • For your first problem, what you need to do is to remove the images from the database: select all the images in a film roll and look for the “remove” button in the “selected images” module (to the right in the lighttable).

  • For your second problem the solution is the same: instead of selecting all the images in a film roll, use the “date” filter in the “collect” module (left of lighttable) to show images taken in a particular year.

By the way: you should upgrade to darktable 3, the OBS repo has the latest versions for Debian 10.

thank you for the info. Well, first problem is solved, thanks a lot.

But second problem is still current. So i will try to explain what my problem is. I am doing a lot of photographs per year and what i have done so far with Lightroom was storing the whole year as a library because over the years lightroom has not the capacity to hold all pictures in the database (a year is appx 100 to 200 folders with each circa 80-120 Raw Files). XMP Sidecars are available for all files, and all files are marked with star ratings as well as color ratings.

So should i look for an archiver software or is there a solution inside darktable ?

Thank you in advance for further help

PS: darktable 2.6 does fullfill my needs but for sure i will give darktable 3 a try!

So you add 8K-24K pictures every year? DarkTable has no problem with storing that many pictures in the database. DarkTable uses sqlite3 as database engine and the database only contains links and metadata. I have 25K pictures in my database, and the database file only takes 140 megabyte. Sqlite3 can handle terabytes. The thumbnail cache is stored separately and Darktable deletes old thumbnails to save space.

In other words, as long as your RAW files fit on your disc, there is no reason to delete images from DarkTables database.

You should upgrade to 3.x, the lighttable view is much faster in 3.x

One option (which I use) is to create an independent library for each year. darktable has a command line option “–library”, which you can use for that (

By default, when you start darktable without any option it will open its default library. But if you start it with “darktable --library some-file”, it will use some-file as its library. Unfortunately there is no method inside darktable to move images between libraries, so the workflow would be something like this:

  • use the default library to edit the current images, with the option to save the xmp files activated.
  • once you finish the edition, remove the images from this default library, and optionally move them to a permanent location (including the xmps)
  • open darktable with the command line option “–library some-folder/2020.db
  • import the images back, darktable should pick-up the edits and metadata from the xmp files

This way you have a “current work” library, and a separated library for each year.

I would strongly recommend you do: besides 2.6 not being supported anymore, darktable 3 is better and faster in almost every aspect of the program. Although if you’re happy with 2.6, maybe wait until darktable 3.2 is out in August, it corrects some quirks introduced by 3.0.