"import" means two different things
There's a confusing bit of language in the UI on importing. The section in lighttable for importing images is called "import". The top two buttons don't copy the file to your photos directory, but "import from camera" does.
Now, I understand that "import from camera" has special settings where you tell it where to put them and so technically, it's doing something different. The two different meanings of "import" in these contexts is just confusing and can be prone to workflow errors.
Perhaps the concept of "import" could be expanded into "import into photo directory" or something like that. Really, this whole notion of a separating the photos from the DB backed part can be a bit confusing if you have one common photo directory where you expect everything to show up. I'd rather accidentally have 2 copies of a file than find I lost a file that I thought I imported.
#1 Updated by Jose Carlos Garcia Sogo about 7 years ago
Well, darktable needs to "import" the images to know about them, we don't have (and don't want) filemanager capabilities. The only exception we have is camera importing, as you usually want to take the images out of your camera/memory card and save them into your working dir.
I will leave this opened, just in case we find some rewording that makes things a bit clearer.
#4 Updated by Rudolf Martin almost 5 years ago
My two cents to rewording "Import from camera" is "Transfer from camera" or "Copy from camera".
"Transfer" may imply that the image will be moved (copy and delete), which is not the case.
"Copy" describes best what happens, in opposite to "import", which doesn't imply a copy process.