Working with catalogs overview

Expression Studio 2.0

The first time that you start Microsoft Expression Media, you'll see a Welcome Screen dialog box. This dialog box helps you become acquainted with Expression Media features, and assists you with import options for creating new catalogs. If you have an idea of how you want to organize your catalogs, you can let Expression Media create a catalog for you when you select one of the options in the dialog box.

A catalog contains references to your digital assets, and is the primary method of file viewing and organization in Microsoft Expression Media. It is also the proprietary file format of Expression Media, identified by the .ivc file extension. You can have any number of catalogs that serve different storage purposes. You can have separate catalogs for images, audio files, and documents. Or, you can create a separate catalog for each project you work on.

When you add files to a catalog, Expression Media stores a thumbnail version of each file in addition to information about the file called metadata, including the file's location on your hard disk or on the removable storage device from which you might have imported the file. When you are working with your cataloged media, remember the following:

  • You can search and organize Expression Media catalogs, even when your original files are not present. For example, your original files might be stored on a CD that is not on the computer. However, in the catalog, you can still view the thumbnails and information pertaining to those files.

  • Because the original files are not embedded in the catalog, Expression Media cannot display them in larger sizes. For that, you need access to the original files.

  • If you delete a media file from the desktop or from a disk, it cannot be recovered through an Expression Media catalog. A catalog contains only information about the file, not the file itself.

  • Adding files to an Expression Media catalog does not move or modify the original media files.

A common question in digital asset management is: "Should I put all my media into one big catalog or into several smaller catalogs?" The number of catalogs that you create varies, depending on your workflow and the types of media you are tracking in catalogs. You can create whatever number of catalogs that is logical and fits your specific workflow needs.

It is possible that a single catalog will be sufficient for your needs. However, grouping files into a few separate catalogs creates a higher level of organization and better search capabilities.

Here are some ways to organize your catalogs:

  • Organize by project   You can dedicate a catalog to each of your projects or clients for easy and quick reference. This is also a good method for supporting short-term deadlines and goals.

  • Organize by chronology   You can create an additional set of catalogs based on the date and time. This is a good monthly habit that will help you build a searchable archive as you go.


    Expression Media features a way to import one catalog into another. For example, you can create one catalog for July and subsequently import all the separate catalogs from all your July projects into that one catalog.

  • Organize by subject   Any logical subjects that are not likely to overlap are a good way to divide your media into multiple catalogs. For example, you can store your images by high-level subjects that describe the types of your photo assignments, such as travel, fashion, portraits, and so on.

  • Organize by process/task   At times, there are clearly definable states for files in a workflow. Separating items by their state or task in your workflow can help direct users to a media item at a specific stage in the workflow. For example, photographers might create one catalog each for original raw files, client selections, processed .tif files, and edited images.

  • Organize by file type   You might want to group files into catalogs based on file type, such as music, movies, fonts, illustrations, or .pdf files. For example, you might want to create a catalog of all your fonts, creating a searchable inventory of typefaces available for your design projects.

  • Organize by search   Expression Media has special search criteria that let you search across all catalogs in a particular folder. Therefore, if you store all the catalogs for one job in a defined folder, the files for that job are easy to locate. Higher-level chronological catalogs are also good for locating media files.

Expression Media can organize more than 100 media file formats. In order to import certain file types, you must have the most current version of Apple QuickTime installed on your computer. You can download QuickTime for no cost at the Apple website.

For more information about supported file formats, see Supported file formats.

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