Managing images with jAlbum

To keep this simple we will refer just to image files, but jAlbum can also handle video, PDF and other files. The following steps apply to all file types supported by jAlbum. You can see all supported file types by using an external tool, Show supported files and, for videos Preferences/Advances/Supported video formats

Do not use the same base filename for different file types, e.g. MyFile.jpg and or MyFile.pdf. Doing so will result in broken albums.

For images that are to be viewed with a web browser their colour space should be set to sRGB, other colour spaces may result in colour shifts. Test

Did you know that jAlbum can be your image file manager as well as a presentation tool for images? jAlbum has an improved way of handling files that is both more intuitive and powerful. Here is how jAlbum interacts with the images and folders on your hard disk.

"The cake model"

The process of making an album is like baking a cake. jAlbum is your oven. The images are your ingredients. The project and its control files is your recipe and the final album is your cake. An album can be remade at any time given that you have access to the images and the project's control files (ingredients and recipe).


Keep this model in the back of your head when working with jAlbum and you will be better off.

The "Image directory" and "Output directory"

Moving on to jAlbum. There are two notions you benefit from understanding, the "Image directory" and "Output directory". The "Image directory" (or project directory) is where on your hard disk jAlbum looks for your images (the "ingredients"). It can contain real image files, folders or links. A link is a pointer to a file or folder, somewhere else on your hard disk (like shortcuts on Windows and aliases on Mac). The "Output directory" is where jAlbum creates the web album files on your hard disk when you make the album (the "cake"). When you upload an album to a web server jAlbum simply copies the contents of the "Output directory" to the server.

Opening the album settings window will display the location for the "Image directory" and "Output directory" for your current project.


In this example the album is written to a folder called "album" under the "Image directory". This is the standard setting and recommended for most users.

Control files

To make an album jAlbum also needs to know how to present it. The settings you've chosen, like skin and style, are stored in a project file called "jalbum-settings.jap". It is usually stored in the "Image directory" too. Image, and folder specific settings like captions, titles and image ordering are however not stored within the project file, but in separate control files for the image directory and its subdirectories. These files are "", "", "albumfiles.txt" and the ".jalbum" folders they are found within. Together they make up the "recipe" for the album. If you decide on renaming or moving images between folders, Use jAlbum! The control files will then also be updated so you don't lose your captions.

The control files for each folder are in a hidden '.jalbum' folder.

Ways of adding files

jAlbum can relate to your images in three ways depending on your preference. Note that the default behavior has changed with jAlbum 9. You can change the default under jAlbum>Preferences>Explorer>When adding files:

"Use folder" and "Link to folder" are the only methods that will recognise new files within those ‘original’ folders. Copy will only see new images added to the project’s folder.



By default, files and folders added to jAlbum will be copied to a project folder under the "My Albums" folder (usually located under the "My Documents" folder). jAlbum will also set its "Image directory" to this folder. Copying has the advantage that you don't need to keep these images available to jAlbum for future album updates. jAlbum already has local copies of the images you added, so adding images straight from a removable media, like your camera's memory card is no problem. The downside is disk space usage. This is the way that most image management software works.



jAlbum can also be instructed to only keep references - "links" to the files or folders you add. To get this behavior, hold down CTRL+SHIFT when dropping onto jAlbum (CMD+ALT on Mac) or set the default file add behaviour to "Link" under Preferences->Explorer->When adding files. An advantage with links is disk space usage, but you can also edit an image you have added this way in for instance Photoshop and have the edits show in the final album when you make the album again. The downside with links is that you cannot move, remove or rename the original file outside of jAlbum without breaking the link. jAlbum will indicate broken links with a special "X" icon on the relevant project object. Double click it and point jAlbum to the new target location in order to repair it.

If linking to objects and you want to use a '.thm' file then the '.thm' file must be added to the project, in the same folder the linked image appears within jAlbum's explore view. With the object's thumbnail shown in jAlbum's explore view double click on the address bar to open that folder in your OS' file system. Now add the .thm file there and return to jAlbum and do a refresh (F5) if it is not already shown.

You can tell that a project object is a link by the small arrow in the bottom left corner. Hover the mouse over the project object to see where the link points.

Note: With this way of working, jAlbum will write its control files (see above) to any folder you are linking to, except if the folder creates a new project and there are no subfolders.

Add choose linking dialogue.png

From jAlbum 16.1 there is a new linking option, 'Mirror content' which appears after you have selected 'Link'. 'Link to folder' is the original linking method above.

To use link mirror on a brand new project you must first create the project, you can't add the folder to the 'empty project' and select link>mirror content. When adding files you must add a folder with subfolders for this option to be presented. Example: select empty project, add or drag/drop a folder of objects, confirm project name add album description if desired, click 'OK'. You can now choose either 'Link to folder' or 'Mirror content'.

When adding a folder using Mirror content the project folder replicates the source folder's folder structure by creating 'real' folders within the project folder, but linking to files within the source folder and its subfolders.

Mirror content leaves your source files untouched by jAlbum, no hidden control folders, and you are free to fully manipulate folders and files within jAlbum without affecting your original source files. You can delete files and folders or rearrange them, for example by using jAlbum's structure settings, within jAlbum without deleting them from the source folder.

Use folder

  • What if you already have an image folder structure on your hard disk that you are happy with and you wish to make a web album out of it?
  • What if you like to manage your existing image folder structure within jAlbum?
  • What if you always wish to keep a web album "in sync" with the existing images and folders you keep on your hard disk?

This is where jAlbum's third way of working comes to play.

Instead of copying or linking files and folders to jAlbum, you can have jAlbum work with the folder you drop onto it. If you now move images and folders around within jAlbum, so does the physical files in that folder too. If you delete blurry or bad images within jAlbum, the real originals are deleted from the hard disk too (put in the recycle bin). If you add, move or delete images outside of jAlbum, these changes are picked up by jAlbum (may require you to press F5 or F5+Alt/Opt/SHIFT though). You never get any broken links.

If you like this way of working, begin a project by CTRL-dropping an image folder onto jAlbum’s empty project (ALT-dropping on Mac).

jAlbum will immediately show the contents of the dropped folder in its window and also set its "Image directory" to the dropped folder. jAlbum won't ask for a project name as it simply uses the name of the dropped folder (for instance your "My Pictures" folder). Note: With this way of working, jAlbum will write its control files (see above) to the folder you drop. If you don't like this, use "Copies" or "Links" instead.


At any time, jAlbum's title bar will tell you how it is working. If it reads [My Albums\Portfolio], your "Portfolio" project is located under the "My Albums" folder and you're working with copies or links. If it reads [My Pictures\Portfolio], your "Portfolio" project is located under the "My Pictures" folder and you're working directly on your original files. Opening album settings will show you the full path to the "Image directory".

If when adding a video it is not shown in the correct orientation enter edit mode and use the rotate left/right button to correct its rotation before building the album.

I hope reading this has helped you understand how jAlbum manages files. With this knowledge you can have jAlbum working the way you like instead of fighting you.