How to use Narrative Select

Quick start Guide on how to use Narrative Select

Keyboard shortcuts can be found here

Rating (selecting your images)

Image Assessments

Survey Mode

Eye and Focus Assessments

Shot Information
Shipping to Lightroom

Moving and Copying Files




Select, by Narrative, is a dedicated image selection tool. The broad aim of a selection tool is to help a photographer cull potentially thousands of RAW images from a photoshoot down to a few hundred as quickly as possible. We aid the selection process by rendering large image files very quickly and enhance the photographer's powers by adding helpful features like Close-ups and Face Zoom.



Projects are the way to organise your work inside Select. The ‘Projects’ screen can be accessed by clicking on the purple Narrative icon in the toolbar.


Creating a new project

Step 1 – For each new shoot, you can create a new project through different methods:

If your files are on a memory card and you want to copy them to another location before starting the project, you can use ingest your images. To learn how to ingest, click here.

If the image files are already on a hard drive or your computer, create new project through the following options:

  • Click on “Choose Folder”

  • Drag your image folder into the app

Step 2 – Find your image folder and click 'Choose Folder'.



Step 3 – The image folder’s title will be transferred automatically as your project title.

Click on the title if you want to change the name and click 'Next'

If you want to conserve the image folder’s title and skip this step for your future projects, click on the option marked below:




Rating (selecting your images)

What do the ratings mean?

The short answer is– anything you want them to mean! They don't carry any inherent meaning and are a legacy of the way most programs have allowed users to rate images.

Many photographers will simply rate images they want to keep with 1 star – but there are many, many other ways to do this. Some photographer use color ratings to indicate things, like which images they'll use for their blog, which go to Instagram, and which need retouching. There is no right answer, find a way that works for you!

You can move between images by using (↑ / ↓) keys. (You can swap this to up/down in preferences)

Keyboard shortcut



Apply a 1 star rating


Apply a 2 star rating


Apply a 3 star rating


Apply a 4 star rating


Apply a 5 star rating


Apply a red color rating


Apply a yellow color rating


Apply a green color rating


Apply a blue color rating


Apply a purple color rating


Clear rating


Tag/Untag image


Reject image

(1),(2),(3),(4) or (5) to apply a star rating and (6),(7),(8),(9) or (p) to apply a colour rating. You may also apply a rating via the right-click menu, or the 'Rate' menu.

If you want to totally clear an image rating, press (0) or right-click to clear just the star or color rating.

(T) allows you to tag or untag an image, or click on the square in the bottom right of the thumbnail. Note – Lightroom will not be able to read this rating type.

(X) Rejects an image. Images that have been rejected are not moved or copied from Select to a different location.  

(U) Clears a tag or reject rating. 

If you want T or X to remove their rating, just tick “Applying a duplicate rating with a key will clear that rating” in preferences.

If you want to auto-advance after adding, changing or clearing a rating head to preferences found at the top menu bar.


Please note: when you add or remove a rating or rotate an image we create an .XMP sidecar file in the source folder. Don't delete them! These files are where your rating information is stored (except for JPGs) so they must be in the same folder as your images for any program to read your ratings. Learn more about .XMP files here.



When working on your project, your filter options will be closed. To view them in your workspace, click on the icon as shown below:



Once the filters are opened, the Image Assessment and Star Rating will be shown by default.

When applying a new rating type to your images, like using red labels, the colour filter will be ‘ticked’ within the other filter options.

To view more filter options, click on the three dots. You can add or remove filter options by 'ticking'/'unticking' them.




If all are filters are enabled you'll see them display as shown below:



The small number below each icon indicates how many images have that rating applied. To filter your images, click on the corresponding icon in the toolbar. 


If you hold (⌘Command) and click on a filter you can quickly select every other filter except that filter. Useful if, for example, you want to hide any images you applied a red colour filter to.



Image Assessments

(This feature was previously known as Distill)

  • Yellow hexagons tell you that you might find better images in that scene.

  • Red hexagons tell you that it’s very likely you’ll find better images in that scene.

  • Hover over them for an explanation, and a neat highlight that shows the scene they relate to.

  • You can then use the filters in the toolbar to hide images with Image Assessment warnings.

  • From preferences, you can choose to turn off just the yellow Assessments, or turn off Image Assessments altogether.


To filter your images by Image Assessments (strong and moderate), click on the icons as shown below:



A few notes on Image Assessments. The reason why an image was or wasn't given a warning is based on the context of all the images that scene, not just if one or more of the subjects are blinking or out of focus. For example, some images with warnings may not actually be objectively bad if viewed on their own – but we give them a warning because we believe that there are better similar images in the scene. And on the flip side, some images that are objectively bad may not get a warning because they are in a scene with images of very similar quality.




By default, you are in Loupe View(E)- which is where you see one main image and a filmstrip.

You can toggle the position of the filmstrip between vertical and horizontal by pressing (Y)

To switch to ‘Grid View’, tap (G) or click the icon in the toolbar. In grid view the slider in the toolbar changes the size of the thumbnails.

To enter 'Scene View' press (S) or click on the icon in the toolbar to view the amount of images you have per scene and assessments.

From ‘Grid View’ switch back to ‘Loupe View’ by double-clicking on any thumbnail or by pressing spacebar. Alternatively, you can tap (E), or click the icon in the toolbar.






There are a few ways to zoom with Select. They all rely on the preset zoom level. This is set to 100% by default, which means that when you in zoom mode, you will see the image at its original size.

We suggest you keep this as the default size as this will give you the truest representation of the image. If you want to change it, you can use the slider in the toolbar, or press (- / +)





  • Tap (spacebar). This will zoom you to your preset zoom level. If there are any faces detected in the image, you will be zoomed straight to the centre-most face. You can use (Z) to zoom, but it will not zoom into a face.

  • Now you can press (←/→) to scroll between any faces found in the image.

  • If there are no face detected, pressing spacebar will act the same way a standard zoom.

  • PRO TIP – Hold (spacebar) and you'll temporarily zoom in until you release it. 



Close-ups is the name of our zoom panel. Open and close close-ups with ( / ) or ( . )


Once turned on, we’ll show Face Mode by default if faces are detected. It’s great for checking if people have their eyes open and their faces are in focus in portrait, couples and group shots.



If no faces are detected the Close-ups panel will automatically switch to Pan Mode, showing a zoomed in portion of the centre of the image.

While in Pan Mode you can move the area that’s shown inside the Close-ups panel by clicking and dragging, or using your trackpad or magic mouse.

You can also navigate within your zoomed in image using the “minimap” in the upper right corner and zoom in further to see fine details or zoom out and to see the broader context.2022-02-24_at_16.11.gif


You can toggle to Pan Mode at any time, and you’ll stay in Pan Mode until you move to a new scene and where faces have been detected.



Survey Mode

Select up to 12 images when you're in any view and open Survey mode to see them all at once.

To open the Survey mode, click on the icon as shown in the screenshot below or use the N key on your keyboard and press escape to dismiss.


By default it will enter the image compare view


To compare faces from up to 6 images at once, select multiple images and open up Survey mode and click on the face icon as shown below.

To view this mode directly, click on the face icon or use Shift + N and escape to dismiss it.


To remove any images from the survey mode, click on the icon as shown below or press "," in your keyboard




Eye and Focus Assessments

Once your images are imported you will see small red or yellow indicators below some of your subject’s faces.

The ellipse indicates our assessment of their eyes. The line indicates our assessment of their focus. The default colours are red for really bad, yellow for probably bad and clear for fine. Think of them as warning lights on your car’s dashboard – they're there to alert you to possible issues. Hover over them to see the score out of 100. You can change the colours of the assessment indicators in preferences.


We’re constantly updating our models and thresholds to make them as good as we can, but please feedback where you see anything that is incorrectly labelled. If Select has missed faces or is not showing Assessment information, read this.




Select detect scenes (a set of very similar images in capture time order). They will load in after the initial project creation and may take a minute or two to appear. Here's what you can do with scenes:

You can navigate straight to the first image in the next or previous scene by pressing (shift) + (←/→)

You can cycle through all the images in a single scene by pressing (⌘Command) + (←/→)

You can hold (⌘Command) + (shift) and click on a thumbnail – all images in the scene will be selected.

Note: for now, scenes will only work well for shoots where you have one shooter. We are working on a solution for multiple shooters.



Shot information

If you want to see information about your shot, have a look at the shot info panel.

Open it with ( i ) or via the Workspace menu.

We’ve abbreviated the information shown by default, but you can click the ‘show more’ link to see all the shot information.



Shipping to Lightroom Classic

Once you’re happy with your selection it’s time to edit your images.


Option 1. Click the [SHIP] button, or press (⌘E). This will open up some options to choose what you want to SHIP, and where.

Option 2. Select which images you want to edit and drag them from the filmstrip over to the Lightroom app icon, or directly into the Lightroom window. You need to make sure that the import dialogue is not currently open in Lightroom.

Option 3. Inside Lightroom, import the folder where the images are saved. This will import all the images in the folder, so you’ll have to apply a filter to get your selection.


Learn more about safely syncing with Lightroom.



Moving and Copying Files

To move or copy files, first, select the images you want to move or copy. Or press (⌘A) to select all images in your project. Now you have a few options;

  1. Click the File menu, then Move File(s) or Copy File(s). Now you can pick the location from the pop-up Finder window. OR,

  2. Right-click on one of the image thumbnails and select Move File(s) or Copy File(s). Now you can pick a location from the pop-up Finder window. OR,

  3. Click and drag one of the image thumbnails directly into a Finder winder move, or hold (option) to copy

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