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Main Window UI

The manager window is the main control interface of the whole application, the showcase of Reference Images needed for your projects. From here you can manage them. You can add them from your computer, create from the clipboard or even automatically download the images from the web, by dragging them directly from the browser onto this window. It's a kind of storage that allows you to hold the links to all of the needed Reference Images in one place.

RefShelf does NOT delete original referenced images

It is important to know, that when you add Reference Images to the manager, it does not copy or relocate the images, it just writes paths to the locations of the original images files into its internal database. Your original Reference Images files always stay untouched, even then when you remove their Reference Card from the manager. It's more technically correct to look at this process as "removing reference to the image file".

If you add Reference Images from the browser or from the clipboard, the manager will store this image as the original image file into the ...Pictures\RefShelf folder first, and only then it automatically creates a Reference Card with the reference to this stored image. So again, if you remove the Reference Card that references the image stored in the ...Pictures\RefShelf folder, that image will be intact.

By adding images from the browser or clipboard, the ...Pictures\RefShelf folder will contain the full history of saved images even after removing the Reference Cards. So, if you no longer need those images on your drive, you can delete them manually or automatically by using the Purge option from the Settings menu.

Another function of the manager is to open any Reference Image as a standalone Reference Window. Just make a double click on the desired Card and the new separate window with the original Reference Image in it will be revealed.


Reference Card (or Card) - it is the representation of a Reference Image that has been added to the manager.

The Card is an auto-generated image preview with a reference to the location of an original image file. It means that adding and deleting the Cards, you are not affecting the original images located on your drive. It also means that if you will move/remove the original image file from its previous location, the link to that image file will be broken, though this is easy to resolve.

Card Name - the name of a Card. By default, the Card gets the same name as the Reference Image file it was created from. To change the name, double click on it and enter a new one in the text field that appeared. The new name will be automatically saved as you type it.

Image Thumbnail - the automatically generated preview of the original Reference Image image file content. All of the generated thumbnails are stored in the internal database of the manager and generated again each time an application is launched to make sure that all of the previews thumbnails are up to date.

Image Info - the brief information about the original image file, such as file format and resolution.


The main purpose of the Card is not a just previewing the original Reference Images files as miniatures, but to give you the possibility to open the original Reference Images as the separate and self-contained Reference Windows. To open the original Reference Image as Reference Window, double-click on the Card. The Reference Window will be spawned and you can use it independently from the main manager window from now on. If you don't need the manager window anymore, you can minimize it or hide it into the system Tray.

Card Context Menu

Copy Image - copy the original image file content into the system clipboard.


The Windows clipboard does not support the image transparency. That means if you copy the image with transparency to the clipboard and then paste it, all the transparent parts would be filled with some default background color.

Open Image - opens up the original Reference Image file in the default image viewer of your system.

Show in Folder - opens the location folder of the original Reference Image file in File Explorer. The required image file will be already preselected.

Change Reference - allows changing the original Reference Image of the current Card. This feature is intended for those cases when the original image file was relocated from last known location. If this happens, the link to image written down in the Cards will be broken and Image Thumbnail will be replaced with placeholder.

To deal with the situation, you have two choices. First is to use the current option and specify the new image location and the second is to just delete the current Card and create a new one with an image of your choice.

Update Thumbnail - updates the Image Thumbnail of the particular Card according to the current state of the Reference Image. This becomes handy in those cases, when the content of the Reference Image was changed but the Card thumbnail is still showing a preview from the last update. The manager does not track any changes in the original Reference Image for the better application performance, so you may update the thumbnail manually if you really need this. Also, you can update all Cards thumbnails at once by clicking on the Update All Thumbnails button on the Top Bar.

Remove Card - simply removes the current Card from the Shelf. There is no option in RefShelf that deletes original files, so you are always safe to manipulate the Cards freely. Referenced Image file will be in complete safety in its original location.


Shelf - the main working space of the program. Each Reference Image that has been added to the manager is represented here in the form of a Reference Card. You can add and remove image Reference Cards from the Shelf.

To add one or more image Reference Cards to the Shelf you have several ways. They are listed down below.

RefShelf creates and stores image files added from the browsers and clipboard

You can add Reference Images from the browsers or from the clipboard. In both cases, those images do not exist on your drive yet. In the case of a browser, an image is located somewhere on the internet. In the case of a clipboard, an image is temporarily located directly in the RAM of your computer. To give you a possibility to use those images later on, independent from an internet connection or after your computer was shutdown, they have to be stored somewhere. RefShelf automatically download parsed image from the internet and stores it locally as an image file. The same is done with the images received from the clipboard. For storing image files it creates the "RefShelf" subfolder in your standard "Pictures" folder and puts image files there. Only after the new original Reference Image file was created and stored, the RefShelf adds a corresponding Card to the Shelf with the Image Thumbnail preview and links that newly created file.


To Copy any Reference Image from the Shelf to the clipboard, select the desired Card and press Ctrl + C hotkey or use "Copy Image" option from context menu.

To remove one particular Reference Card from the Shelf, make a right-click on the desired Card and choose the "Remove Card" option from the context menu.

To remove several Cards at once, select the Cards then make a right-click on any Card from the selection and choose the "Remove # Cards" option from the context menu. To select several Cards, use a rectangular selection (make the left mouse click and drag the cursor) or use Shift key during selection to select range of Cards. Also, you can modify your selections by clicking on Cards with Ctrl key pressed.

Shelf Context Menu

Paste Image - creates a new Card from the clipboard image. The clipboard must already contain an image. During this operation, the image from the clipboard will be stored as an image file in the Current Users "Pictures" folder first, and only then the corresponding Card will be created. You can also use the hotkey Ctrl+V for pasting images.

If you're a Windows 10 user, you can add desktop screenshot as a reference image

Just press Windows Logo + Shift + S keys combination, it will call the Windows Snipping Tool. Using it, select the part of the screen you want to capture. The Snipping Tool will automatically create and add the desired screenshot to the clipboard. All you have to do is paste this screenshot to the Shelf by pressing Ctrl + V. Two conventional hotkeys and you have it - simple as that.

Remove Cards w/ Broken Links - removes all the Cards with broken links at once. It is an useful option in case if you do not plan to "Change Reference", but just want to clear the Shelf from broken Cards.

Top Bar

Add From Folder - opens the file dialog, where you can locate and choose Reference Images from your drive to add them into the manager. After you choose the image files and hit "Open" button, the corresponding number of Reference Cards will be created, one Reference Card for each file. All of the created Reference Cards will appear on the Shelf.

Also see supported Formats section.

Settings - opens up the popup with the main settings of the program. For detailed information about all of the setups please visit the Settings section.

Help - invokes the drop-down list of two helping options.

The "How To Use" option opens up this User Guide in the default system browser. The "About" option opens up the popup with information about the version of the application, copyrights, EULA and used technologies.

Update All Thumbnails - updates all of the Image Thumbnails for all of the Cards according to the current state of their respective Reference Images. It is the same action as the Update Thumbnail for a particular Card, but applied for all Cards on a Shelf at once.

Search Card By Name - filtering form, to facilitate searches of Cards by their names. Type any set of characters here and if Card Name contains it, the corresponding Card will be shown on a Shelf. All the Cards that not contain typed characters set on its names, will be hidden. To display again all of the Cards, just clear the form. You can do it by deleting all the characters manually or by moving the mouse cursor over the text field and clicking on the "x" button which will appear on the right side.

Always On Top - allows you "to pin" the manager window to be always on top of all other opened windows, even if you are currently working in another program. It allows you to have manager UI always visible, whatever you do with other programs windows at this time. By default, this feature is turned off.

Minimize - hide the Shelf window to taskbar.

Maximize - expand the Shelf window to full screen. When the window is already maximized to the full screen, the Maximize button will be replaced by the Restore button. By clicking on the Restore button, you will restore the window configuration to what it was before maximization.

Close - this function will either exit the program with closing all opened Reference Windows or will minimize the Shelf window into the system tray. You can configure the action of this button by switching corresponding settings option: Minimize Shelf into Tray by Close button. Also, you may use a conventional OS hotkey - Alt+F4, to exit/close the application for sure.

Status Bar

Notification Area - the area where the program logs all the important things for you to know about, such as events, errors, and even shows the floating tips.

References Opened - shows the number of Reference Windows opened right now.

Scale Cards - slider that controls the scale of the Cards on the Shelf. Move them to the left to make the Cards appearance smaller, move to the right to make them bigger. You can use a hotkey for Cards scaling.


Ctrl+Mouse Wheel - scale Cards.

Ctrl+A - select all Cards.

Ctrl+D - deselect all selected Cards.

Delete - remove the selected Card(s) from the Shelf.

Ctrl+C - сopy content of the Cards source image file to the clipboard. The Card must be selected and only one at a time.

Ctrl+F - filter/search Cards.

Ctrl+V - paste an image from clipboard.

Ctrl++ - increase Shelf window UI zoom.

Ctrl+- - decrease Shelf window UI zoom.

Hotkeys (Global)

Alt+S - toggle visibility of the Shelf. Pressing this hotkey will bring the Shelf to the screen as an currently active window. If the Shelf window is the currently currentуely active window (in focus), pressing this hotkey will "hide" the Shelf into the Tray.

Alt+R - toggle the visibility of all currently opened Refs.

Alt+C - close all of the currently opened Refs.


The usual hotkeys work only inside the currently active program window. The global keys instead are being registered into the OS and the target application can "listen" for them from anywhere. On practice that means, you can work with any other program at this time, but when you press a global hotkey, the target program will immediately respond. The target application must be running in order to "listen" any hotkeys.

The RefShelf can register several global hotkeys to provide you the better user experience and speed-up your workflow. To register Shelf global hotkeys, please enable the corresponding settings option: Enable Shelf Global Hotkeys.