8. The Browser panel

The QGIS Browser panel is a great tool for browsing, searching, inspecting, copying and loading QGIS resources. Only resources that QGIS knows how to handle are shown in the browser.

Using the Browser panel you can locate, inspect and add data, as described in The Browser Panel. In addition, the Browser panel supports drag and drop of many QGIS resources, such as project files, Python scripts, Processing scripts and Processing models.

Python scripts, Processing scripts and Processing models can also be opened for editing in an external editor and the graphical modeller.

You can drag and drop layers from the Layers panel to the Browser panel, for instance into a GeoPackage or a PostGIS database.

../../../_images/browser_panel1.png

Fig. 8.1 The Browser panel

The browser panel (Fig. 8.1) is organised as an expandable hierarchy with some fixed top-level entries that organise the resources handled by the browser. Node entries are expanded by clicking on browserExpand to the left of the entry name. A branch is collapsed by clicking on browserCollapse. The collapseTree Collapse All button collapses all top-level entries.

In Settings ► Interface Customization it is possible to disable resources. If you, for instance, would not like to show Python scripts in the browser, you can uncheck the Browser ► py entry, and if you want to get rid of your home folder in the browser, you can uncheck the Browser ► special:Home entry.

A filter (filterMap Filter Browser) can be used for searching based on entry names (both leaf entries and node entries in the hierarchy). Using the options Options pull-down menu next to the filter text field, you can

  • toggle Case Sensitive search

  • set the Filter pattern syntax to one of

    • Normal

    • Wildcard(s)

    • Regular Expressions

The Properties widget, showing useful information about some entries / resources, can be enabled / disabled using the metadata Enable/disable properties widget button. When enabled, it opens at the bottom of the browser panel, as shown in Fig. 8.2.

../../../_images/browser_p_properties_w.png

Fig. 8.2 The properties widget

A second browser panel can be opened by activating the Browser (2) panel in View ► Panels. Having two browser panels can be useful when copying layers between resources that are locationed deep down in different branches of the browser hierarchy.

8.1. Resources that can be opened / run from the Browser

A lot can be accomplished in the Browser panel

  • Add vector, raster and mesh layers to your map by double-clicking, dragging onto the map canvas or clicking the addLayer Add Selected Layers button (after selecting layers)

  • Run Python scripts (including Processing algorithms) by double-clicking or dragging onto the map canvas

  • Run models by double-clicking or dragging onto the map canvas

  • Extract Symbols… from QGIS Project files using the context menu

  • Open files with their default applications (Open <file type> Externally… in the context menu). Examples: HTML files, spreadsheets, images, PDFs, text files, …

  • Copy entries

Resource specific actions are listed for the different resource groups sorted under the top-level entries listed below.

8.2. Browser panel top-level entries

8.2.1. Favorites

Often used file system locations can be tagged as favorites. The ones you have tagged will appear here.

In addition to the operations described under Home, the context menu allows you to Rename Favorite… and Remove Favorite.

8.2.2. Spatial Bookmarks

This is where you will find your spatial bookmarks, organised into Project Bookmarks and User Bookmarks.

From the top level context menu, you can create a bookmark (New Spatial Bookmark…), Show the Spatial Bookmark Manager, Import Spatial Bookmarks… and Export Spatial Bookmarks….

For bookmark entries you can Zoom to Bookmark, Edit Spatial Bookmark… and Delete Spatial Bookmark

8.2.3. Project Home

Available once the project file has been saved, the Project home entry is a folder containing data and other contents (scripts, models, text, …) that may be used within the current project. Displayed in the Browser panel, it allows you to quickly access data and other files of the project.

It defaults to the project file folder but can be changed through the Project ► Properties… ► General ► Project home option, or by right-clicking on the Project Home item of the Browser panel and selecting Set project home…. Customizing that folder is especially useful in contexts where QGIS projects are not stored in the root folder of an organisational ‘project’, along with datasets.

8.2.4. Drives and file system

The next items of the Browser panel depend on the OS in use and concern the top level entries of its file system.

They are mainly:

  • The Home folder, pointing to the current user home folder

  • on Unix-based machines, the root / folder

  • the connected drives, either local or network. Depending on the OS, they are directly listed (eg, C:\, D:\) or through the /Volumes entry.

From the contextual menu of each of these folders or drives, you can:

  • refresh the contents

  • create a New ► subitem that is a Directory, GeoPackage or ESRI Shapefile format dataset

  • hide the directory (Hide from Browser)

  • Set color: customize the folder icon color, aiding in rapid browser navigation of complex folder structures

  • enable Scanning:

    • checkbox Monitor for changes: allows to manually control whether a particular directory should be monitored and automatically updated. This setting applies to the selected directory and all subdirectories. This means that you can manually opt-in to monitoring of network drives if you know there’s no issue, or manually opt-out of monitoring of large directories which you don’t want monitored for other reasons. By default, remote or network drives are not automatically monitored.

    • unchecked Fast scan this directory

  • open the directory in your file manager (Open Directory…)

  • open the directory in a terminal window (Open in Terminal…)

  • inspect the Properties… or the parent Directory Properties…

8.2.5. Database entries

Depending on your OS and installed drivers, you might have access to different database types to use in QGIS. Below are listed the different entries of contextual menu at each level of the dataset tree.

Level

Context menu

Type of database

geoPackage GeoPackage

spatialite SpatiaLite

postgis PostGIS

hana SAP HANA

mssql MSSQL

oracle Oracle

Top menu

Create a New Connection… to an existing database

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Create Database…

checkbox

checkbox

Save Connections… details to a file

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Load Connections…

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Connection / Database

Refresh a connection

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Edit Connection… settings

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Delete Connection…

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Delete the database

checkbox

checkbox

Compact Database (VACUUM)

checkbox

Create a New Schema…

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Create a New Table…

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Schema

Refresh a schema

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Rename Schema…

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Delete Schema…

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Create a New Table…

checkbox

checkbox

Table / Layer

Rename Table…

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Truncate Table…

checkbox

checkbox

Export Layer ► To file

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Add Layer to Project

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Delete Layer from the database

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Open Layer Properties… dialog

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Open File Properties… dialog

checkbox

Fields

Add New Field…

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Field

Delete Field…

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

8.2.6. Tiles and Web Services

Level

Context menu

Type of services

wms WMS/WMTS

vectorTileLayer Vector Tiles

xyz XYZ Tiles

wcs WCS

wfs WFS / OGC API - Features

afs ArcGIS REST Servers

geonode GeoNode

Top menu

Create a New Connection…

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Create a New Generic Connection…

checkbox

Create a New ArcGIS Vector Tile Service Connection…

checkbox

Save Connections… details to a file

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Load Connections…

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Connection

Refresh connection

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Edit… connection settings

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Delete connection

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Table / Layer

Export Layer ► To File…

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Add layer to Project

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

Open Layer properties… dialog

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

checkbox

8.3. Resources

  • Project files. The context menu for QGIS project files allows you to:

    • open it (Open Project)

    • extract symbols (Extract Symbols…) - opens the style manager that allows you to export symbols to an XML file, add symbols to the default style or export as PNG or SVG.

    • inspect properties (File Properties…)

    You can expand the project file to see its layers. The context menu of a layer offers the same actions as elsewhere in the browser.

  • QGIS Layer Definition files (QLR). The following actions are available from the context menu:

    • export it (Export Layer ► To file)

    • add it to the project (Add Layer to Project)

    • inspect properties (Layer Properties…)

  • Processing models (.model3). The following actions are available from the context menu:

    • Run Model…)

    • Edit Model…)

  • QGIS print composer templates (QPT). The following action is available from the context menu:

    • (New Layout from Template)

  • Python scripts (.py). The following actions are available from the context menu:

    • (Run script…)

    • (Open in External Editor)

  • Recognized raster formats. The following actions are available from the context menu:

    • delete it (Delete File <dataset name>)

    • export it (Export Layer ► To file)

    • add it to the project (Add Layer to Project)

    • inspect properties (Layer Properties…, File Properties…)

    For some formats you can also Open <file type> Externally…

  • Recognized vector formats. The following actions are available from the context menu:

    • delete it (Delete File <dataset name>)

    • export it (Export Layer ► To file)

    • add it to the project (Add Layer to Project)

    • inspect properties (Layer Properties…, File Properties…)

    For some formats you can also Open <file type> Externally…