Contact Sheets

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This is the main window that you will be using in Photo Mechanic, where you will view all the image files in your folders. You can have more than one Contact Sheet open at a time. They will appear as tabs at the top of the Contact Sheet area. You can switch quickly between them by holding down the Control key and pressing the right or left arrow keys in Windows. On macOS, you can do this by Command-{ or Command-}.

Main window annotated.jpg

Images appear as individual thumbnails with the image file name displayed underneath. Hovering the mouse over an image will reveal up to 4 icons, two for rotation of the thumbnail, one for IPTC Info Display and the other to trigger the Preview window for more detailed viewing. Rotations are only performed on the display, it is one of Photo Mechanic’s basic operating philosophies that, as far as is possible, no changes are made to the image data in your valuable files.

Contact cell.jpg

Below each thumbnail is a small check box to ‘tag’ the image and a grey strip, the Color Class Bar, which will change as images are Color Classed or Star Rated in subsequent editing.

Each thumbnail can have up to 3 lines of further {variable} info displayed, much like Tool Tips but displayed on each thumb. Enable these labels in Preferences under the Contact Sheet Tab.

The Main View

On the Toolbar is a slider to control the size of the thumbs; this is interactive and can also be set to a default size in Preferences. When you return to a contact sheet after closing it the thumbnail sizes will be as set in Preferences.

Across the top of the main area window are Tabs, one per open Contact Sheet. Tabs can be selected by clicking on them or dragged between multiple open windows. This makes is easy to view many Contact Sheets of many different folders.

Photo Mechanic has context-sensitive menus. Right-clicking (or Ctrl-clicking) on a thumbnail, or selection of thumbnails, brings up menu of available operations. The same commands can be found in the various menus.

Right-click on a thumbnail to bring up this context sensitive menu. (On a single button mouse use the Ctrl key.)

Thumbnail context.jpg

View Panes

There are various ways to configure the Main View, these can be selected from the main menu under View.

  • Show/Hide Toolbar toggles on and off the Toolbar under the main menu at the top of the screen. It contains basic file operation Icons, the Thumbnail Size slider, Sort Options and Color Management On/Off.
  • Navigator This is the familiar Folder View for navigation within the directory structure of your computer. Use this pane to select the folder you wish Photo Mechanic to make a contact sheet from. Double-click to open the folder as a new Contact Sheet. Option-Double-Click to add a Folder to the currently open contact sheet
  • Favorites A very useful pane in which you can set folders as Favorites to speed up navigation. This can be very useful if a folder is deep down in the directory structure and you need to refer to it often.
  • Tasks This shows the progress of things like memory card ingest and FTP uploads. If you close your Ingest progress dialog and need to see it again, you can double-click the progress here.

The Favorites and Navigator can be resized by dragging the splitter bars between the panes. Double-clicking the splitters will cause them to collapse. Double-clicking a collapsed splitter will cause it to expand to its original position.

Navigator and Favorites

Folders operate much the same way as they do in other programs but Photo Mechanic adds refinement with the Favorites and Navigator to allow easy access to commonly used folders.

The Navigator is a view of the familiar hierarchy of folders which can be opened to reach sub-folders etc. By dragging a folder from Navigator into the Favorites panel you now have essentially a ‘shortcut’ to that folder without having to fully negotiate the folder hierarchy.

A good way of working is to have the folders you are working with visible in the Favorites pane, and use them to copy and move files around. Favorites and Navigator both offer Copy selected items here and Move selected items here commands on their contextual menus.

Dragging a folder into the Contact Sheet area will open it as a Contact Sheet.

You can drag images from the Contact Sheet view onto any folder to move them, or hold the Option key to copy them instead of moving them.

To remove a Favorite Folder, right-click (Ctrl-click) on it and choose Remove.

Favorites color label.jpg

There are some other nice refinements to the Favorites and Navigator Panels: Right-click (Ctrl-click) on a Navigator or Favorite folder to bring up the above menus. In the Mac OS X version of Photo Mechanic, you can set a color for the Folder to aid in distinguishing them later. You can add a new folder within an existing folder: the parent folder is then shown with a small triangle to the left of its title to indicate that it can be expanded.

To combine two folders into one Contact Sheet, right-click (Ctrl-click) the folder you want to add in and select the ‘Open in Current Contact Sheet’ option. Option-double-click will also open the folder in the current contact sheet window.

To remember the set of folders you are currently browsing as a Contact Sheet tab use the “Remember Folders as a Favorite...” menu item on the File menu. This will allow you to set a name for the set of folders and once named will cause a “Multi-Folder” favorite to be created in the Favorites panel.


A newly created Multi-Folder favorite. To open it as a Contact Sheet you can double-click it, or you can use its contextual menu to open it. You can also rename it or remove it via the contextual menu.

Contact Sheet Tab Menus


Contact Sheet tabs have right-click contextual menus that offer several helpful commands. Options will change depending on if you have images selected or not and if you have multiple tabs open or not.

  • Close this tab: Closes just that Tab but leaves other Contact Sheet tabs open.
  • Close ALL BUT this tab: Closes other tabs but leaves the active tab open.
  • Reveal in Finder (OS X)/ Reveal in Explorer (Windows): Will show the path to the folder shown in the Contact Sheet and allow you to open that folder up on your computer.

  • Add to Favorites: Adds that Contact Sheet to the Favorites Pane
  • Copy selected items here: Copies the selected items from one Contact Sheet to a new sheet, leaving the originals intact.
  • Move selected items here: Moves the selected items from one Contact Sheet to a new sheet.


This pane in the Contact Sheet will show you the progress of certain tasks that Photo Mechanic is performing, like multiple memory card ingests, copying files, or FTP uploads, etc. Double-clicking on a progress bar will open a dedicated progress dialog.


Loupe cursor

Images can be previewed at 100% from the Contact Sheet by using the Loupe cursor. The ‘Cursor Mode’ toolbar item indicates which mode the cursor is in. The Cursor Mode can be quickly toggled by pressing the ‘Z’ key. The ‘Cursor Mode’ toolbar item may also be clicked to choose which cursor mode is desired.

Once activated, the Loupe effect is started by clicking and holding the mouse button down on thumbnail of interest. A moment later (depending on the resolution of the photo and the speed of your system) the largest available area not obscuring your view of the thumbnail is replaced by the preview of the image. While holding down the mouse button you can reveal other parts of the image by panning the Zoom outline around the thumbnail area.


Releasing the mouse button stops the preview and returns to viewing all thumbnails.

Most operations on thumbnails are allowed during Loupe cursor mode including selection, though the area available for selection is the thumbnail’s text area since clicking in the thumbnail image area starts previewing the image. You can still perform inline renaming by double-clicking on the thumbnail’s filename, set Color Class, Rating and Tags.

Mac only: If you don’t see the Cursor Mode indicator on your toolbar, you can add it by customizing your toolbar. You can enter customization mode by right-clicking (or Ctrl-clicking) on any empty space in the toolbar and choosing ‘Customize Toolbar...’ from the contextual menu that appears.

The Loupe cursor doesn’t completely replace the Preview window since it doesn’t support cropping or viewing more than one zoomed image at a time, but it does come in handy.

Single Images

Keyboard shortcuts are a good way to speed up operations and are worth taking the time to learn. When there is only a single image selected or highlighted in the Contact Sheet window there are certain shortcuts that can be used:

← → ↑↓ Arrow keys move the selection around
A Play audio if any. Pressing A again will stop the playback
E Edit photo with external editor application
T Toggle tag
+ or = Tag image
- or _ Untag image
] Rotate Clockwise 90°
[ Rotate Counter-Clockwise 90°
I Edit IPTC Info
U Upload via FTP
1-8 Set color class
0 Clear color class
Space bar Preview image