Creating a catalog

Expression Studio 2.0

Before you get started with Microsoft Expression Media, there are some basic concepts that you need to know about how Expression Media imports, lists, and categorizes files. This chapter reviews the tasks necessary to create and work with your first catalog.

Expression Media stores information about media files in catalogs. A catalog is a visual database that you can organize and search. A catalog contains attributes, which contain information about each file.

Tags, also called annotations or metadata, help you organize and classify media. Kinds of tags include the following:

  • A thumbnail of each media file.

  • A full-screen preview of each media file (if this option is selected).

  • The location (path) of the original file on a hard disk, CD, or other kind of storage media.

You can create as many catalogs as you want, depending on how you want to organize your media files. For example, your photos, videos, and music could each have their own catalog file. Alternatively, you could create one catalog that contains all your media.


Each catalog can contain up to 128,000 files, with a limit of 1.8 GB.

Once you have created a catalog, you can store your images with information such as digital camera details, captions, labels, and annotations. You can search and browse your catalog, even if your original files are misplaced or offline.

In Expression Media, you can also edit all your media files, including renaming, editing images, managing color profiles, printing contact sheets, changing file formats, and creating slide shows.

There are a few options that you might want to set before creating a catalog. These options help you save time and improve the quality and accuracy of your imports.

Define thumbnail creation and media preview options

Expression Media assigns a thumbnail image to each imported media item and then stores this image in the catalog file. You can choose how large to make this thumbnail. Your preferences and the media type determine how Expression Media assigns a thumbnail to each media item. The following options describe different kinds of thumbnails Expression Media can use:

  • The embedded thumbnail image created by a digital camera or software program   These thumbnails are typically low-quality.

  • A thumbnail created by Expression Media   These thumbnails are of the highest quality.

  • A generic media icon   These thumbnails are assigned to some non-image files, such as audio files.

You can also define media preview options. These previews are large .jpg proxy images that will be displayed in Media View, Slide Show, and Light Table, regardless of whether original media files are available for display. Media previews are especially useful if most of your media files are stored in offline storage media, such as on a CD or DVD. These previews are also useful for distributing catalogs without including the original media files.

To define thumbnail creation options

  1. Start Expression Media.

  2. On the Edit menu, click Thumbnails and Previews.

  3. Do one of the following:

    • If you want Expression Media to build a thumbnail image, select a size from the Thumbnail Size menu. If you select Variable size, Expression Media creates thumbnail images matching the thumbnail size defined in the Thumbnail View of the active catalog.

    • If you want Expression Media to use the embedded thumbnail images created by your digital camera or your digital imaging program, select Use built-in thumbnails.

  4. Select a Quality setting.

To define media preview options

  1. On the Edit menu, click Thumbnails and Previews.

  2. Select Create full screen previews.

  3. Select a size.

  4. Select the .jpg compression quality to be applied to the preview images, and then click OK.

Control which media files are added to a catalog. The type of import (From Folders, Camera, and so on) determines which import options you can use. You can select those options when you first import files.


You can set a global option to limit importing to just those files that belong to a certain media type.

To define a media type filter

  1. Start Expression Media.

  2. On the File menu, click Catalog Importers.

  3. Select the box for each media group that you want Expression Media to import or ignore in future catalogs. For example, when you use Importing from Files/Folders, you might select only the Images option to import images such as .jpgs, .tifs, and so on, and skip all other files in the same folder. If you are not familiar with which types of media files belong to each group, you can select the check box for a particular media group (and clear the check boxes for the other media groups) to see a comprehensive list of all of that group's supported media types.

  4. Select Follow Alias if you want Expression Media to import the destination file of any alias that it encounters.