Is there a way to give shotwell a factory reset without deleting any of the original photos.

I made a big mess of importing the wrong library followed by the right library and now have 30,000 photos a lot of which are duplicate and rather than sifting through them all I would have thought it easier to start again.

Reinstalling shotwell does not work. Emptying the photos to the trash deletes the original file. Anything else I can do? Thanks

I am using 12.04.

2 Answers 2


The best thing to do is to rename the .shotwell folder in your home folder, as that contains all the thumbnails and library information. Simply rename the current .shotwell to .shotwell.backup and then load up shotwell. It will regenerate a new .shotwell folder and you will be able to start again, and you will also still have the old dot folder if there is anything in there that you want. (Make sure you click the option to enable hidden files in your file browser).

The reason why uninstalling a program and then installing it again sometimes doesn't clear up any problems properly is because the dot files of that program in your home folder are not removed. Therefore the new installation will still be using those files; purging a program only removes configuration files in the system folders.

Note: From Shotwell 0.13 (the default version in Ubuntu 12.10), the photo database file is in ~/.local/share/shotwell/data and the actual photo thumbnails are in ~/.cache/shotwell.


And to make sure that Shotwell exports from the right folder only, set your desired folder in '>Edit>Preferences>Library Location' BEFORE you rename or delete the .shotwell folder.
Shotwell starts exporting media as soon as it's launched so there's no time to select your location but upon restarting, it remembers the last set one.

  • That's is a absolutely really annoying 'feature'
    – MathKid
    Jun 5, 2018 at 21:20

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