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Documentation & User Guides | Fotoware

Working with previews


Learn how you can use Previews to work more efficiently with your pictures and organize them.

What are previews?

Viewing images using thumbnails in FotoStation’s image window is useful when you want to get an overview of your archive. However, if you want to take a closer look at an image, you will need to view a larger representation of the file. While a thumbnail is a small representation of an image, a preview is a larger representation normally larger than the thumbnail but smaller than the full-size image.  FotoStation will create thumbnails and previews of image files when you access a folder or an archive that contains images. These thumbnails and previews are stored in a separate defined cache folder.

Previews are immensely useful when you need more details than offered in thumbnail view, and as you will earn in this topic, you can use them actively when categorizing and comparing pictures, and making selections.

Why not just open the file in Photoshop?

There are several advantages to viewing previews instead of opening the file in its associated program:

  • Since the preview is opened from FotoStation, you don’t have to wait for the file’s associated program to start. Starting the associated imaging program may sometimes take several minutes, so this is especially nice if you only want to take a quick look at one or more images.
  • Since the preview is smaller than the high-resolution image file, it will take less time to open the preview file compared to the high-resolution file.
  • When you work with FotoStation’s previews, you have access to the preview context menu with options for selecting files, opening the high-resolution file within the preview window, comparing previews in different windows, etc.

FotoStation creates thumbnails and previews only for image files. If you would like to have thumbnails and previews for other file types (such as PDFs, Microsoft Office documents, etc.), this must be done in Index Manager. See the Index Manager manual for more information on how this is done. Note that FotoStation Client is required for Index Manager functionality.

Opening a preview

Double-click on the image you would like to view a preview of. If the image is already selected, you can open a preview by simply pressing the Enter key (Windows) or Cmd + Enter (Mac). The image will open in a new window.

In the lower part of the preview window, i.e. below the preview itself, you find a field that displays the same metadata as the text panel in the main program window.

If you want to, it is possible to have more than one preview window open at the same time. Select the number of previews that you would like to open by clicking on the files in the image window (the maximum number of preview windows is eight). Right-click on one of the selected files and select Preview from the menu. The preview windows will automatically be tiled side by side.

Opening a full-screen preview

Having made a selection in the FotoStation grid, you can press Space Bar to open a full-screen preview of the last picture you clicked. Your entire selection remains intact and you can use the Up and Down arrow keys to scroll through the archive. Then press Space Bar again to select/deselect additional pictures. Press Escape to close the preview window and return to the grid. Your new selection will be kept.

Navigating in the archive when using previews

When a preview window is open you can use the window’s scrollbar or the up/down arrow keys to scroll through the contents of the current source. Note how the text panel in the lower part of the preview window is updated to show the metadata of the displayed file. 


When you have opened an image in the preview window, it is possible to view the high-resolution image within the same window. Simply double-click on the image. Use the + and - keys to zoom in and out on the image. (Zoom level between 10% and 800%)

You can press and hold the Ctrl key (Command on Mac) to perform the same operations on all open previews. This is especially useful when studying details in different images.

Context menu options

Other options are also available in the preview window. Right-click inside the window to choose from a list of available options. Most keyboard shortcuts, such as the shortcuts for rotating, cropping, opening image files in FotoStation Edit mode (FotoStation Pro only), etc, are available from the preview window. The idea is that you should have easy access to important operations from the preview window.

Right-clicking on a preview will bring up a context menu similar to the thumbnail context menu. However, some of the available choices are preview-specific. They are:

  • Maximize image view: (menu option only available in Windows) Maximizes the preview on the screen on a neutral background. Keyboard shortcut: Ctrl+M / Command–M.
  • Tile preview windows: Tile all open preview windows on the screen. This function is useful if the automatic tiling of previews has been disabled in the Window menu.
  • Maximize all preview windows: Maximizes all preview windows.
  • Close all preview windows: Closes all open preview windows in a single operation. Keyboard shortcut: Ctrl+F4  / Shift–Command–W
  • Show main window: Hides the open preview windows behind the main program window. You can switch back to the previews by opening the Window menu and choosing Show preview windows.

The Window menu in the main program window contains functions for arranging, displaying, and closing preview windows. If you enable Tile windows automatically, FotoStation will automatically size and arrange all open preview windows to fit the screen. To close a single preview window, press the Escape key (Command–W on the Mac). To close all open preview windows in a single operation, press Ctrl+F4 (Shift–Command–W on the Mac).

Comparing pictures using several preview windows

By opening two or more preview windows at the same time (up to 8 are possible) you can compare images, for example, to compare the quality of pictures before and after processing with an action. For this functionality to work, the file sorting method must be the same for both archives (this can be verified by checking the status on the file sorting button in the toolbar). Tile the preview windows, then press the Ctrl key (Command key on the Mac) while scrolling through the contents of the folder, either by clicking the arrows in the scrollbar of the preview window or, preferably, using a mouse with a scroll wheel. This functionality can also be used to compare the contents of two different archives.

Advanced Preview Operations

Maximizing the Preview window

To maximize a preview window to fill the entire screen, press Ctrl-M (Command-M on the Mac).

Zooming and panning

If you need to study an image in greater detail than what is provided in the preview, you can use the + and - keys to zoom in and out. FotoStation will automatically give you access to the high-resolution image file within the preview frame to display the image in great detail. You can then click and drag to pan inside the image frame. To quickly open the high resolution from within a preview window, you can also simply double-click on the preview itself, then zoom and pan as you like.

Comparing files using the preview window

If you have more than one preview window open, you can press and hold the Ctrl key (Command on Mac) to perform the same operation on all open previews.  You can for example double-click a preview to open the high-resolution image directly in the preview window. It is then possible to pan around the image to study smaller details. It's even possible to compare two pictures like this in the way described above: Open two previews (typically of the same picture before and after processing) and then press Ctrl while double-clicking one of the previews. FotoStation will open both high-resolution files, after which you can keep pressing the Ctrl key and pan around both images simultaneously to compare them.

Selecting files from a preview window

When scrolling through previews as described above, you can press the Spacebar key to select files. Then, when closing the preview window (Esc in Windows/Command–W on the Mac), FotoStation will ask if you wish to keep the current selection.

Classifying files from a preview window

Provided that the Classify view is chosen for thumbnails in the main program window, you can open a preview window and scroll through previews, then use keyboard shortcuts to classify the files as you scroll through them. Simply press Ctrl-<number> (Option-<number> on the Mac) to classify a file.

Deleting files from a preview window

It is also possible to delete files directly from a preview window. Use the shortcut keys Delete (Windows) or Command–Backspace (Mac). The operation works as it would if you deleted the file directly from Windows Explorer or the Mac Finder, i.e. if the file you deleted was on a local disk it is placed in the system Recycle Bin (Windows) or Trash (Mac). If the file was on a server (this will typically happen when you work with an Index Manager archive), then the file is deleted immediately and can’t be recovered. As a general rule, always think twice before deleting files.

Previewing PDFs and Office documents

Note: This functionality is only available when FotoStation is connected to an Index Manager server.

When connected to an Index Manager archive, FotoStation gets its thumbnails and previews delivered from the server using the FWP protocol. The Index Manager has the added benefit of being able to create thumbnails and previews of PDF documents and Office documents (Word and PowerPoint) that FotoStation can display.

Multi-page documents can be scrolled through by clicking on the left and right arrows in the little gray navigation panel that becomes available in such documents. You can also "leaf" through the documents using the left and right arrow keys on the keyboard.

To zoom in on these files, simply double-click on the preview. This will generate a higher-resolution preview to allow you to read any text on the page and look closer at smaller details in embedded pictures.

FotoStation multipage preview browsing.PNG