Can Lightroom re-organize already-imported photos into dated folders?

Community Beginner ,
Sep 16, 2013

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Hi folks...

I have some folders in my catalog where for whaetver reason, the import was not done by my usual method, into dated folders (organize...by date).

I would like to find a way to take an existing Lightroom folder, containing pictures already imported into Lightroom, let's just say it's called VACATIONS, and get those pics out into new folders where the photos are put into folders by date taken.

I thought about re-importing...trying to import photos into Lightroom that are in the already existing VACATIONS folder, but Lightroom doesn't want to do that, even when "don't import suspected duplicates" is UN-checked, and that would probably create a mess anyway.

So, anybody got any ideas?

Thanks so much.

--

Bill

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New Here ,
Dec 06, 2016

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You are proabably right, yes, but, from my point of view, Adobe Ligthroom is very close by doing something smart, but has not completed the process - That's the major problem! There is some functionality which do allow you to move files, but not in such a way that it preserve your metatags etc. in a correct way. And that is the main issues - Your collection of photos is growing and when bacem big, it's to late to go back and reorganize your collection without loosing a lot af information...

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Explorer ,
Oct 17, 2017

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I know this is an old thread, but since no one else has bothered to address the actual question, regarding the automated process for reorganizing by date, here is the process that I used:

1) Select all photos in Catalog

2) File > Export as Catalog. Place in a folder entirely separated from your original photos.

3) For the sake of having a backup, create a brand new catalog and open it.

4) File > Import. Select the folder with the exported catalog and 'include subfolders'

5) Upon importing, all photos will be reprocessed and sorted into folders as per your current settings

PLEASE NOTE:

You will lose the following from your images:

  • Virtual Copies
  • Historical Edits

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Mentor ,
Oct 20, 2017

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kwschnautz  wrote

I know this is an old thread, but since no one else has bothered to address the actual question, regarding the automated process for reorganizing by date, here is the process that I used:

1) Select all photos in Catalog

2) File > Export as Catalog. Place in a folder entirely separated from your original photos.

3) For the sake of having a backup, create a brand new catalog and open it.

4) File > Import. Select the folder with the exported catalog and 'include subfolders'

5) Upon importing, all photos will be reprocessed and sorted into folders as per your current settings

PLEASE NOTE:

You will lose the following from your images:

  • Virtual Copies
  • Historical Edits

Which is to say, throwing away all your work on Virtual Copies / Proofing Copies without the option.

But also the new Catalog will silently LACK :

  • Collection membership for each surviving image;
  • Collection sets and Collections altogether;
  • Stacking;
  • Smart Collections;
  • any Catalog settings you've changed away from the default
  • Publish services and collections and image relationships;
  • Print collections;
  • Custom sort order within a folder
  • Remembered filtering or sort type for particular folders

plus, I think, some of your individual keywords' attributes such as synonyms or 'don't export' (their hierarchy may survive)

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LEGEND ,
Oct 20, 2017

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Add to the list of items that will not transfer this way:

Books

Slideshows

Web Pages

Related to the above, I feel that putting effort into creating nice and neat folders by capture date for ALL of your previous photos is an unnecessary goal, in my opinion. It is work that doesn't give you new benefits. Why do I say this? Because the Filter Bar in Lightroom can find your photos by capture date without any re-arranging of your folders.

Just for clarity, I also recommend putting NEW pohtos into folder by capture date. Why? Because this is the Lightroom default, it takes extremely little effort to set this up.

And if you follow my advice, now your folders are mis-matched, some are by date and some are in some other format. Big deal, it doesn't bother me, I organize using LR features such as keywords and other metadata, I don't use the Folder location for any organizing purpose. Folders are simply a place where I store the photos, and are not the method I use to find the photos (by the way, who can remember the capture dates of thousands of photos? If you say that you can remember the capture dates of thousands of photos, I don't believe you)

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Community Beginner ,
Aug 19, 2018

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FOR. THE. LOVE. OF. ALL. THAT. IS. HOLY. Could someone please answer the question instead of pontificating about why or why not to do this?

I have the same issue. I am OCD and I am bothered by my photo files being in the 'wrong' folders. I am a genius and can remember exact dates photos were taken. I can also remember keywords and model camera used. But I want my folder system to reflect some of these keywords and event dates.

*One of the moments I was NOT USING my genius was when I imported a trip to Arizona into an Arizona 2018 folder AND LEFT THAT AS THE DEFAULT. Since that date in May of this year, each photo I've imported has been added to that folder.

What I would like to know is: "How can I refolderize the images that sit in that Arizona folder? And can I do this (and keep virtual copies and edits) just by moving them within the sidebar or do I have to be in the LIBRARY view and select the thumbnails and move them? OR is there another way to do this that won't damage anything?"

Thanks!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 19, 2018

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Without debating the pros & cons of a dated folder structure,

you can re-organize images in the catalog with some work-

1. First keyword all photos with their current folder category . eg. Vacation.

2. select "All Photographs" in the Catalog Panel.

3. In the Library module- choose 'Metadata' on the filter bar

4. Set one of the columns to "Date"

5. Now you can select a [Year]    (eg. 2012)

6. Right-click in the LR folder panel to create a new folder (eg. 2012)

7. Select all the photos filtered (by a Year) then Drag & drop photos to the new folder.

8. Repeat for each Year, and later can do similar to divide photos into [Month] folders if wanted.

And take a look at this video tutorial by Laura Shoe-

Must-See Lightroom Video Tutorial: Organize and Manage Your Photos and Folders | Laura Shoe's Lightr...

Regards. My System: Lr-Classic 9.4, Lightroom 3.4, Photoshop 2020 (21.2.1), Nikon DSLR, Windows-10.

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Mentor ,
Aug 20, 2018

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Yes you can drag (move) or rename or create folders using the LR Folders panel. You can drag images from one folder to another. Lightroom makes the corresponding change on disk (as a Move).

Dragging within LR does a Move. If this is a large quantity of images, many people advise that a Copy into the new location - using your OS file manager - will be found safer and more reliable. So then within LR you can re-browse the current ('old') parent folder, to point to the newly copied parent folder location, using Update Folder Location. Then once satisfied all has transferred OK, the files and folders can be deleted from the 'old' location.

By doing this (either straight move, or copy and redirect) from within LR, all the affected file paths get updated to suit - for master images and also, necessarily, virtual copies. No other aspect of the images or their editing is affected. Only: if an image's appearance within a Smart Collection depends on particular folder naming, which has now ceased to apply, the image will duly stop appearing within that particular Smart Collection.

Sometimes folders appear as individual entries (top level) within the Folders panel such that their place in the folder hierarchy relative to other image folders, is not apparent. That can be fixed by right-clicking and selecting "Show Parent Folder" as needed, until enough hierarchy shows, to SEE the real interrelationships of these folders. The Folders panel reorganises itself automatically to show nesting.

You can Remove a folder from the LR Folders panel and if this folder is truly empty, that merely means: "stop displaying it". If you go to Remove a folder and it turns out to contain images which would get removed from LR (along with edits and virtual copies etc) then you get a warning dialog and can cancel out.

If you move or rename a folder, that of course affects not only all files that are imported to LR, but also any which are not.

RP

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Community Beginner ,
Aug 20, 2018

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Perfect recent responses from Wobert and Richard.

Thanks to you both. I believe - though I wasn't the original poster - that you've properly solved the question. At least to my understanding.

Yay!

Jeff

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 20, 2018

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To add some more to the thread-

A comment on Richard's post-

If this is a large quantity of images, many people advise that a Copy into the new location - using your OS file manager - will be found safer and more reliable.

This is great advice, and I agree and frequently recommend this method of 'moving' folders of images, BUT if you are re-organizing with new folder names (Dated folders, etc) then you must do it within Lightroom, otherwise re-linking the photos would be a nightmare.

Also my sequence of steps in Post#31 could be re-arranged and re-worded for a better method (I now realize) and the Drag&Drop of files is NOT needed- Lightroom does the move automatically!

6. Select all the photos filtered (by a Year) then-       Drag & drop photos to the new folder.

7. Right-click on a 'parent' folder (Do NOT select it) in the LR folder panel and [Create a folder inside "Parent"] 7a. Name the new folder (eg. 2012) and check the selection to "include selected photos"

ScreenShot097.jpg

Regards. My System: Lr-Classic 9.4, Lightroom 3.4, Photoshop 2020 (21.2.1), Nikon DSLR, Windows-10.

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Participant ,
Sep 12, 2018

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What a damn stupid comments!

Let everybody work the way he prefers! "date structure is the best", "use metadata", "you'll lose sideshows (what an importat feature! FP)", I simply could not stand still reading all that through!

I have the same problem. I have one folder with a miriade of folders inside "10-11-2015" and so on, with 1-2 photos inside. I need to reorganize it the way:

main folder>

     year>

          month>

               day.

But I simply can't find a way to do it! What to complain more - LR even cant simply automatically delete empty folders (facepalm). Seems it has no solution other than manual reimport in new catalogue...

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 12, 2018

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stupid comments!

Why "Stupid" ? we all have different opinions, and what might be your suggestions?

So how would you do the folder re-shuffle in your operating system? (AND keep Lightroom linked to the files)

Does Mac Finder/File Explorer offer a method?

If you want Lightroom to maintain the Library database links to your photos 'new' locations then there is only one way to do it AND preserve ALL your editing work, Collections, VCs, etc, in the Lightroom Catalog. I cannot see any other way to achieve the re-shuffle, and keep the Catalog pristine.

1. First keyword all photos with their current folder 'category' . eg. Vacation.

2. select "All Photographs" in the Catalog Panel.

3. In the Library module- choose 'Metadata' on the filter bar

4. Set one of the columns to "Date"

5. Now you can select a [Year]    (eg. 2012)

6. Select all the photos filtered (by a Year) then-      

7. Right-click on a 'parent' folder (Do NOT select it) in the LR folder panel and [Create a folder inside "Parent"]

7a. Name the new folder (eg. 2012) and check the selection to "include selected photos"

8. Repeat for each Year, and later can do similar steps to move photos into [Month] folders if wanted.

LR even cant simply automatically delete empty folders (facepalm).

This is to prevent the 'stupid' from deleting folders that may also contain Word Documents, PDF files, or ANY file that is NOT a photo. Even photos that have not been imported to the Catalog would also be deleted if LR would 'automatically delete' folders that appear to be empty in the LR folder panel.  (LR only shows IMPORTED PHOTOS in folders)

Regards. My System: Lr-Classic 9.4, Lightroom 3.4, Photoshop 2020 (21.2.1), Nikon DSLR, Windows-10.

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Explorer ,
Oct 13, 2019

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To follow up on this old thread, it's actually way quicker than I expected to use the metadata filters to identify photos taken on a date, then drag them to a new folder in the heirarchical structure that you prefer. Takes maybe a minute per day, so if you have years of 3 week vacations to process, it would take you a few hours. Plus, you then have the bonus of being able to look at all your vacation photos day-by-day again, and live your vacation over.  Presumably, one of the reasons you took all those vacation photos back in the day is so you could look at them again in the future.  The future is now. 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 13, 2019

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If the goal is to just move the old images files into a new dated folder structure, this can be easily done by:

- create a new temporary catalog

- import the desired photos, let LR move/copy them into the dated folders

- exit LR

- Open LR using the old master catalog

- In the Library module, repeat the "find missing images" procedure as needed.

 

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mantspi LATEST
Community Beginner ,
May 30, 2020

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Thank you for this tip. I tried this and it works. 

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