When you open a Contact Sheet in Photo Mechanic, the images will be displayed according to the Default Sorting Method in Preferences: Contact Sheet.


By default, this option will be set to ‘Filename’, as this is the fastest method for sorting images. Once a Contact Sheet is open, you can change how its files are sorted by using the dropdown menu that displays the current sort mode. Select Reverse to flip the sort order.

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Every Contact Sheet will have the option to sort by capture time, modification time, filename, color class, and star rating, as well as ten other sort methods that you can customize.


Contact Sheets opened via the Navigator or a Photo Mechanic Plus Collection will have an additional option to sort by ‘Arrangement’, which allows you to arrange your images in the order that you would like.


Arrangement sort

Even with all of the different metadata you can sort a contact sheet by, sometimes you will want to manually arrange the images. To do this, you will need to change the sort mode to ‘Arrangement’. Once in Arrangement sort mode, you can select one or more images, and then click and drag. Once a gray bar appears between the two images closest to your cursor, releasing the cursor will place the selected items between those images.


Note: If new items are added to the contact sheet after an arrangement has been made, they will be added to the end of the arrangement.



There are three ways to enter Arrangement sort:

  • Choose ‘Arrangement’ from the ‘Sort by’ menu above the Contact Sheet. The contact sheet will then display the images in their last known arrangement. If an arrangement of these images has never been made, they will be arranged by filename.
  • Choose View > Make Arrangement: This will take the current order of the images on your Contact Sheet and make an arrangement from that.
  • From your Contact Sheet preferences: uncheck “Only Allow arrangements when in Arrangement sort mode” to start an arrangement while in any sort mode. You can then click and drag your selected items and drop them in place without having to first enter Arrangement sort mode.
Note: The last two methods will lose any prior Arrangements for this Contact Sheet. By default, Arrangements are only allowed in Arrangement sort mode to avoid an accidental click and drag when in another sort mode.

Tip: Arrangements are a feature of Photo Mechanic, and no other program can use these Arrangements. However, once you have made an arrangement that suits your needs, you can rename your images using the sequence variable. Then, any other program viewing the folder can sort the files by filename, resulting in the images being the same order as your arrangement.


Custom sorting methods

The most common sort methods such as Filename and Capture time are built-in to Photo Mechanic and cannot be modified. However, you can sort a contact sheet by almost any metadata that Photo Mechanic can gather from your images


From the ‘Sort by…’ dropdown, choose ‘Edit Custom…’ and the ‘Custom Sort’ dialog will appear. From here, you can define up to 10 custom sort methods.

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  • Edit Item: Choose the item that you would like your new custom sort to replace
  • Name: Enter the name for your sort method. This is what will appear in the ‘Sort by’ menu for your custom sort method.
  • Primary:The criteria to sort by. This must be valid Introduction to Photo Mechanic variables
    • Example: If you would like to sort by the aperture that the camera used for each image, enter ‘{f}’ to this field
  • Secondary: The criteria to sort by when two or more images have matching primary criteria. If this field is blank, images with matching criteria will be sorted by filename
    • Reverse Secondary: Reverses the order of items sorted by the secondary criteria.
      • Example: With {date} as the secondary sort criteria, all images with a matching primary criteria will be grouped together, and the secondary criteria will be used to display the images by their capture date, oldest to newest within that group. With Reverse Secondary enabled, they will first be grouped by their primary criteria, but then sorted newest to oldest.