In this article we assume that you can access your external storage using normal file system access. (In other words, that you can browse your files with a system file explorer, be it on Windows or MacOS.)
When you open a folder with ImageRanger using the Browse panel on the left side, the files in the selected folder and subfolders start to appear on the screen. The indexing of these files is automatically performed on the background, but is done only once for each file. This is because software needs to gather a lot of information such as detected faces, capture dates and locations, keywords, ratings, etc.
For big file collections the indexing process may take little longer. The indexing progress is shown on the screen.
Unlike other photo management software, ImageRanger does not require you to Import or move your images. The images you see on the screen are never moved to another location unless you independently do so.
Once the files are indexed, all information is reused automatically next time you open the same folder. This means you can open your storage folder anytime after the indexing and access fast sorting and filtering for all the images located on your storage drive.
What if the location of your images is frequently changing? For example, you access the same USB drive on two different computers and you want to be able to quickly sort and filter images on both machines?
By default the ImageRanger software builds the index information on your local storage in some temporary folder. Hence in default configuration the fast-sorting and filtering functions are available only on a single computer. To change the default setting, use the Options menu and set the Distributed index location.
When distributed indexing is configured, ImageRanger will write a small file inside each folder, where index information about images are cached. This makes it possible to reuse the indexing results on other computers, without doing the indexing again.
With distributed indexing, you can use the same USB drive on another computer and ImageRanger will pick up the indexing in the fastest possible way.