An Introduction To F-Spot

With digital cameras getting less expensive, photo and image collections tend to grow faster then ever. Patanjali Somayaji shows how to master the problem with the F-Spot photo management system.


F-Spot is a photo management system for GNOME built using the Mono platform. It provides features such as importing photos and exporting them to disk, web galleries, web photo management services, and burning images to a CD. F-Spot has a very powerful classification system based on tags, which can be used to organize and catalog your photo collection.

Getting F-Spot

The F-Spot home page contains information on how to download and install F-Spot. Some distributions provide pre-built packages. F-Spot is still in the development phase, however, you can use it quite effectively to manage your digital photos.

Importing Folders

The first step after installing F-Spot is to import some photos to manage. Let’s say these photos are in your home folder, under “photos”. Choose File -> Import… to get the dialog shown below.

Browse through your folders and choose the folder “photos” which contains the photos that are to be imported into F-Spot.

The folder chosen (“photos”) is selected as shown in the figure below. You can assign a tag to each photo that is imported (more on tags for classification later).

F-Spot imports all the photographs and displays them in a thumbnail view. The top left panel contains various “tags” while the bottom of the left panel contains information about each photograph such as the date and time the photograph was taken as well as other pertinent information to a photographer about a particular photograph.

Simple Operations

F-Spot allows you to easily perform simple operations on your photos like rotating the image, cropping the image, red-eye removal, etc.

Rotating a Photo

Consider the photo in the picture below, which needs to be rotated. Double click on the photo to edit it. This opens the photo to be edited.

Right click on the photo and click on f-spot-rotate-90;

and the image is now rotated.

To return to the thumbnail view, click on Browse in the toolbar.

Crop a Photo

To crop a photo, use the crop tool shown below.

Select the area of the photo you want to resize as shown in the image below, then click on the crop tool.

The modified image is stored on disk as a new, “modified” image as shown in the information on the lower left panel of F-Spot. Therefore, cropping the photo does not modify the original image, but rather it creates a new version of the original photo. Using the lower left panel of F-Spot, it is very easy then to switch between your original and modified versions of the photo.

Adjust the Color of a Photo

Use the color adjust tool in the edit photo window to adjust the color of a photo.

You will be presented with a dialog box to adjust the photo color as shown. As in the case of the crop operation, the color adjust tool creates a modified version of the image which is stored on disk, keeping the original version intact.

Adjusting the color gives the following result:

Adding a Comment to a Photo

You can easily add a comment to an image when in the edit view. Just type in the comment in the edit box below the photo as shown in the picture below.

Classifying Photos with Tags

F-Spot allows you to classify photos by assigning tags to each photo. F-Spot already supplies a set of tags by default – “Favorites”, “Hidden”, “People”, “Places”, “Events”, and “Other”. You can create tags in each of these categories, and then assign a tag to a photo or a selection of photos by just dragging the tag onto a photo or a selection of photos.

For example, the photos we imported were from a trip to Singapore. So lets create a new tag “Singapore” under the default tag “Places”, and assign it to all the photos.

Creating the Tag

Right-click on the “Places” tag, click on Create New Tag and fill in “Singapore” in the “Create New Tag” dialog box.

Assigning Tags to Photos

To assign a tag to a photo just drag the tag and drop it on the photo. The first photo that is assigned to a tag is used as the Icon for the tag. You can also drag a tag on a selection of photos to assign a tag to all selected photos.

Selecting Photos Using Tags

You can use tags to select photos, and then perform operations on this selection. In the example below, six photos of a “cable car ride” are classified under a new tag “cablecarride” under “Events”. Selecting the “cablecarride” tag in the tag list on the left selects only those six photographs and shows them in the thumbnail view.

Exporting Photos

F-Spot allows you to export your photos to a variety of locations, including web galleries, gnome-vfs locations (e.g. Samba shares, Ftp locations, etc.), local folders, a CD, and your Flickr account. You can also choose to send photos by mail. Where possible, F-Spot also exports the categories and tags created. You can decide to strip the files of any metadata when exporting as well as resize images.

Exporting to a CD

You can choose to export photos to a CD using Nautilus-cd-burner or export photos to a CD to burn later. After you select the photos to transfer to a CD, choose File -> Export -> Export to CD… to export images to a CD.

Select whether to burn an image or use nautilus-cd-burner to write a CD, and choose other options.

Finally, choose the image file and create the CD.

Sending Photos via Mail

To send photos via mail, select the photos, then click on File -> Send Mail…. This will start your mail client with a new compose message and the selected photos will be attached.

Exporting Photos to Your Flickr Account

Exporting photos to your Flickr. account online is also a very simple process. All you need to do is to choose File- -> _Export to Flickr… and fill in the required details. You can choose to resize your images, and export with tags and categories that continue to be associated when the photos are put online.


F-Spot is a very powerful and usable application that demonstrates the power of the GNOME desktop. It can only get better as more and more features are added to it. For further information you can join the F-Spot mailing list, or join *#f-spot* on

Copyright © 2005; Patanjali Somayaji (patanjalisomayaji gmail com)

Discuss this story with other readers on the GNOME forums.


Posted on July 15, 2005, in July 2005. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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