I am trying out a workflow in Linux where I use Shotwell for image management, and Rawtherapee as the editor.

If I view an image in Shotwell, and choose "Open in RAW Editor", make an edit, then go back to Shotwell, how do I get Shotwell to then show the edited image?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If you want a software that does both RAW processing and image management, try Digikam. \$\endgroup\$
    – xenoid
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 16:59

3 Answers 3

If I view an image in Shotwell, and choose "Open in RAW Editor", make an edit, then go back to Shotwell, how do I get Shotwell to then show the edited image?

You probably can't. The RAW editors like RawTherapee are non-destructive editors. You don't edit the RAW image; instead, you apply a series of instructions to the RAW image, and the instructions are saved to a separate file.

Unless Shotwell supports every single instruction than RawTherapee supports in an identical way, and supports the RawTherapee instruction file format, there is no possible way it could show the edited image. Basically, I'm saying that this would require Shotwell to be a 100% clone of RawTherapee. It isn't.

The intention is that after you have edited the image in RawTherapee, you export it as JPEG or TIFF with all edits applied. Then, any program capable of viewing JPEG/TIFF images will show the edits.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems like a major deficiency in an otherwise acceptable workflow. If I have to export it, it's one extra step (assuming you know when you're "done"). Then, you probably see the original plus the edited, which also makes little sense. \$\endgroup\$
    – user68417
    Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 4:02

Each raw editor uses its own proprietary ways of interpreting the information contained in a raw file. This information must be processed before it can be displayed on our monitors as anything resembling a meaningful image.

It's not much different than a latent negative, which can not be seen until it has been chemically developed.

Please see:
What does an unprocessed RAW file look like?
Why don't mainstream sensors use CYM filters instead of RGB?

In a very real sense, there's no such thing as "the original" in terms of what you first see on your screen when you open a raw file. What you see is either

  • that particular raw application's "default interpretation" of the total data contained in that particular raw image file


  • the camera's interpretation based on its internal settings that created the jpeg "preview" image attached to the raw file.

When you "do some editing", you're just changing the instruction set for how the raw data is to be interpreted.

But Shotwell doesn't understand Rawtherapee's instructions, so it uses the same instructions it used before to render the image.


I am going through this same problem. I think if you set it up so that RawTherapee's "queue output folder" is where Shotwell looks for JPG images, it will work. The trick seems to be:

  1. Do not let Shotwell see the RAW files. Make sure they are in a directory away from where Shotwell is looking.
  2. The RAW files should be RawTherapee's input.
  3. RawTherapee's queue processing output folder should be visible to Shotwell.
  4. Do not use Shotwell to edit these images - just to categorize them.
  5. If you need to edit something, go back to RawTherapee, make your changes to the accumulated work list, and queue it.

RawTherapee and Shotwell both have configuration options so you can set this up.

  • \$\begingroup\$ In this setup, does Shotwell know how to link the RAW file and corresponding output JPEG? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 0:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ The approach I am trying is that Shotwell is unaware of the raw files altogether. If I need to edit one of them, I just fire up RAWTherapee instead. I tend to do a batch of pictures from the camera all at once so this is not a big change from my usual flow before I got into RAW stuff. \$\endgroup\$
    – user88850
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 3:53

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