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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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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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Sep 16, 2013 1
LEGEND ,
Sep 16, 2013

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My only idea isn't worth much: live with existing folder structure if possible and use metadata for in-Lr organization. At some point Adobe may robusten Lr and/or provide primitives for plugin solutions. If unacceptable, I see no automated solution short of re-importing (you may need to remove previous versions, create a new catalog, or use an import plugin which bypasses Lr's limitations, if Lr is being too finnicky).

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Sep 16, 2013 0
LEGEND ,
Sep 17, 2013

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My only idea isn't worth much: live with existing folder structure if possible and use metadata for in-Lr organization.

It isn't what the original poster asked for, but I think its a great idea if he really wants to be more organized. Organization isn't making the folders appear nice and neat, organization is taking actions so you can find your photos easily; metadata (primarily keywords, captions and titles) achieves this goal, whereas putting files into date-based folders does not.

In fact, in this case, date-based folders causes you to LOSE you existing organization which says "Vacations". I don't know about the original poster, but I cannot remember what date all of my thousands of photos were taken. Unless the original poster has a much much better memory than I do, converting his VAcation folder to date based folders causes him to be LESS organized than he was previously. Thus, if the original poster wants to see his vacation photos, right now, he can find them easily. If he were to be able to convert to date-based folders, now he cannot find them as easily. In fact, now he has to perform the difficult (to me) mental task of remember what date each photo was taken.

Now, if the original poster can honestly state that he can remember the exact date each of his thousands of photos were taken, then in that case date-based folders might make sense, but I still think metadata makes more sense. If he can't actually remember what dates his photos were taken, then to answer his question "anybody got any ideas?", I would say ... do NOT create date based folders, instead use metadata (primarily keywords, captions and titles) to achieve organization.

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Sep 17, 2013 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 17, 2013

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Date based folders are a great idea - the naysayers above never look at their OS or believe it is necessary to. Misguided IMHO. I'd like to see tham find a book in a library when the database was off if all the books wre just randonly shelved.

For already imported ones you can sort and filter by date and creat folders in the Folder panel. Or you may be able to creat a new catalog and import from your existing one and move/reorganise the files at the same time. I can't check this right now personally.

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Sep 17, 2013 0
LEGEND ,
Sep 17, 2013

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Date based folders are a great idea - the naysayers above never look at their OS or believe it is necessary to. Misguided IMHO. I'd like to see tham find a book in a library when the database was off if all the books wre just randonly shelved.

The analogy to libraries isn't a good one, because the tools we have to retrieve the photos on a computer are different than the tools we have in a library.

If space aliens came down to my house tomorrow, and within Lightroom (so the files remain connected), moved every photo to a new randomly named folder, I'd still be able to find the photos in Lightroom, and once found in Lightroom, I could find the photos within my operating system. In fact, I probably wouldn't notice the fact that the folders now have random names for months, and yet any time I wanted to find a photo, I'd have no problem whatsoever.

I never look at my folder list, and I don't feel like I'm losing out on anything with regards to my photo management and searching.

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Sep 17, 2013 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 17, 2013

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You have a view DJ which as acknowledged as narrow. I hope you never loose your catalogs It is wise to have more than one system in place for different purposesand as a Lightroom catalog is for  viewing image files what you say can work for that but when using the OS which has way more than image files which need managing your system isn't so great and folders are. But then I guess DAM experts like Peter Krogh don't know what they are talking about like you do

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Sep 17, 2013 0
LEGEND ,
Sep 17, 2013

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It is wise to have more than one system in place for different purposesand as a Lightroom catalog is for viewing image files

What is that "different purpose"? For you, there may be different purposes; for me there is no obvious "different purpose" and so my system works for me.

But then I guess DAM experts like Peter Krogh don't know what they are talking about like you do

Well, that's a very audacious thing to say, as I have never claimed to know more that Peter Krogh, I have never once criticized Peter Krogh, in fact I recommend his books to people, but that doesn't mean I have to implement or agree every single thing he says in my own organizing. And just because I don't agree with everything he says, you cannot rightly claim I think I am implying Peter Krogh (or anyone else) knows less than I do.

What you are missing in this argument is that the original poster already has a form of organization, a folder named "Vacation". By moving these photos into date based folders, he is becoming "less organized" in a significant way, that now there is no obvious way to call up and find his vacation folders. That was my primary point of the whole discussion ... I was urging him to think if that was really helpful to him or not. I acknowledged that it might be helpful to him, and stated that there could also be situations where that would not be helpful to him.

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Sep 17, 2013 1
Mentor ,
Sep 17, 2013

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What you are missing in this argument is that the original poster already has a form of organization, a folder named "Vacation". By moving these photos into date based folders, he is becoming "less organized" in a significant way, that now there is no obvious way to call up and find his vacation folders.

I will fully agree with the impulse not to organise images physically by (e.g.) Vacation, but instead according to some inherent and enduring property of the images, especially if (as with capture date) LR can help us to file the images systematically, or even automate that totally for us.

A good idea to first batch-apply keywords such as "Vacation" to preserve those pre-existing classifications, before the folder reorganisation. The ease or difficulty of that reorganisation depends on: have Virtual Copies been used; has there been a big reliance on Collections and Smart Collections. If these features have not been used, there is currently a simple 1:1 correspondence between images in LR and images on disk, which is all one needs to worry about. In that case, after keywording all needed prior classifications as above, writing metadata out to all of the images and then re-importing them into a fresh Catalog using the Move (or Copy) options and implementing a date-based scheme from the start, should be relatively straightforward.

If Virtual Copies especially have been used, then the reorganisation will have to happen from inside the current Catalog AFAICT, since that is the only environment where these have any existence.

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Sep 17, 2013 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 17, 2013

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What's wrong with having the best of both worlds? Files organized in a folder structure and organized by metadata? I can't think of a single problem with that, in fact it renders this whole discussion moot.

When you import it has to go into some folder or another. Whether that folder is a fishtank or a dedicated folder with a name, sitting in a tree, is honestly not of any practical consequence. You still keyword the same way.

What does make a difference is that the files are easier to find if for example the keywords you first assigned aren't quite functional. Or a thousand other reasons. Knowing where the files are physically makes me sleep better.

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Sep 17, 2013 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 17, 2013

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Responding to original post before it was edited....

"What's wrong with having the best of both worlds? Files organized in a folder structure and organized by metadata? I can't think of a single problem with that, in fact it renders this whole discussion moot."

Moot only if you think about it on a superficial level? A folder structure that tries to categorize the contents of images is inevitably subjective, ambiguous, and prone to change over time - eg scenic photos during a vacation may be better stored in the new Landscape /  USA / Utah folder you set up when that interest develops. So you waste time moving stuff around, and still being unsatisfied which place it's in. That's why we have metadata for categorizing, and why it's ideal to use date based folders using the objective and unambiguous capture date. Folder structures should be thought about purely in terms of physical storage - best use of space, throroughness of backup, ease and thoroughness of restoration after a crash or move to new system.

That said, I agree with Rob's intitial advice. Leave the old stuff as it is, and get new stuff right from now on.

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Sep 17, 2013 2
Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 17, 2013

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What's not "inevitably subjective and ambiguous" about keywords? Why would a folder name be any different from a keyword in this respect?

Anyway, I'm not here to argue. My whole point was that this is something there really is no reason to argue over.

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Sep 17, 2013 0
Community Beginner ,
Sep 17, 2013

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DJ,

I hear what you are saying, that date-based folders/organization does NOT make it easy, in most cases to find pictures.

I am just trying to clean up my folders, and get everything uniform.

Like you suggested, I do use collections and keywords to organize and find pictures...yes, that makest he most sense...but I would ALSO like my folder structure to be uniform and organized as well.

And yes, there ARE some photos that can be found by dated folders (say, Christmas/Holiday photos, birthdays, certains kinds of events, etc), as certain dates DO stand out in memory quite easily.

--

Bill

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Sep 17, 2013 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 17, 2013

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I used those words to describe folders.  Keywords have the categorisation flexibility that folders lack.

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Sep 17, 2013 0
Community Beginner ,
Sep 17, 2013

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Twenty One...

Yes, that is exactly what I am looking for:

1)  A neatly organized folder structure...(yes, this makes me sleep better too), while acknowledging that this is not truly necessary in LR, and

2)  Keywords/tags, etc, assigned to pictures.

--

Bill

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Sep 17, 2013 0
Mentor ,
Sep 17, 2013

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1)  A neatly organized folder structure...(yes, this makes me sleep better too), while acknowledging that this is not truly necessary in LR, and

2)  Keywords/tags, etc, assigned to pictures.

A carefully designed import procedure can make this much easier to implement and to keep consistent. I find if I have LR automate the folder filing (by date) using a tested import setup recorded into a preset, then there is zero opportunity for human error plus the whole thing is hands-free for me (yay!).

The only individualising I do, is batch-keywording right in the Import dialog (all images imported together get the same keywords under this method, so you'd only add the ones that can apply across the entire batch - perhaps for client, location - but at least that is a start).

Some people like to include descriptive text in the lowest level subfolder name, event by event... not necessarily because one plans to go browsing folders per se, but because that can show up in a free-text LR search. Perhaps one might start with an auto-dated folder and then rename it later when you get the chance (doing so inside LR). This is a matter of personal preference; of course there are keyword-only ways to achieve effectively the same end result.

But I prefer not to do this: to leave the folders in the rigorous scheme (YYYY/MM/DD) that LR import has executed. So whenever I separately import another image that happens to share the same capture date, I can be confident that it is going to automatically slot into the exact same physical folder all by itself.

This way LR already knows where everything belongs, just by following a simple objective algorithm; whereas it could never begin to guess at some descriptive folder name - which even I may not easily remember, or select, correctly at some later date.

RP

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Sep 17, 2013 1
Community Beginner ,
Sep 17, 2013

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All good advice Richard...thanks.  I need to set up a preset so I can do like you...hands-free and as error-free as possible.

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Sep 17, 2013 0
New Here ,
Sep 17, 2013

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you can indeed change the folder structure of an existing collection, but it requires a bit of "low level" sqlite manipulations:

http://worldofthev1.blogspot.com/2013/01/lightroom-folder-batch-rename-with.html

http://worldofthev1.blogspot.com/2013/06/more-about-lightroom-and-sqlite.html

if you re-import with traditional methods, you will probably disconnect virtual copies and some other stuff.

MH

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Sep 17, 2013 0
New Here ,
Dec 05, 2016

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It's very easy to create a well organized photo galleri out of a horrible mess of a stored phoros in different folders.

  1. Organize your pictures in folders where the camera model is the cornerstone in your library.
  2. Identify with Adobe Ligthroom where most of your pictures is stored by using the meta data filter
  3. Select the camera filter you want to use for a for collection shooted by that camera
  4. Open Windows explorer and type the same TAG in the search field as the camera model or only the name of the camera
  5. Start searching in the same folder as you in Ligthroom
  6. In the end, you will get the same number of pictures as indetify in Lightroom
  7. When finish the search, it's time to move the pictures to a temo folder
  8. NB! Now you get the oppurtunity to stop almost identical pictures which can destroy your orginal pictures
  9. When the process of moving pictures has stopped it's time to get back to Ligthroom and start the import process
  10. Start importing the pictures from the temp folder into your new archive where your place the pictures in folders by date
  11. Check that Lightroom is moving the pictures so you get confirmed that they are deleted in the temp folder

You see? Now wou will a new archive where the files is organized by camera model and date.

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Dec 05, 2016 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 05, 2016

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If I am reading your instructions correctly -- not a safe bet -- you seem to be suggesting doing an import a second time. This is never a good idea.

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Dec 05, 2016 1
LEGEND ,
Dec 06, 2016

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I agree, any method that advises importing the photos again is not one I would recommend, and this will likely cause more problems.

It also seems pointless to me to do all this work to obtain folders that are named by capture date, which in my mind is relatively useless as a way to find photos because no one can remember the capture dates of thousands of photos. But — if you want to find photos in Lightroom by capture date, you can use the Filter Bar, and get more powerful search capabilities than just find photos by capture date with zero effort to set this up because it is built in to Lightroom; with the filter bar you can search entire months for a photo, or search several days for a photo, or search on a specific date for a photo.

I will go so far as to state my opinion that instead of doing all this work to achieve folders named by capture date using a procedure that I don't recommend, resulting in a relatively useless tool for finding photos because no one can remember the capture dates of thousands of photos, you'd be much better off doing work to add keywords and other metadata to your photos, and use those for searching in the future.

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Dec 06, 2016 2
New Here ,
Dec 06, 2016

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The point is that Ligthroom do not allow you to do a clean move of the pictures like Adobe Bridge do. But the main reason why I suggest the "Import" function of Ligthroom is mainly because the program move all the picrtures and place them in their respective folder where the date is the name of the folder. You do not import the pictures as such, you just remove them from the catalog and select the "Move" at the menu when you "Import" the pictures. Afterwards, you will recognize that the thumnails, previews is still there and Lightroom do not start a full import process as such.

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Dec 06, 2016 0
LEGEND ,
Dec 06, 2016

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You do not import the pictures as such, you just remove them from the catalog and select the "Move" at the menu when you "Import" the pictures.

This is an import, in fact it is the worst kind of import, a second import of the same photo, despite your attempts to describe it as not an import. And if users don't do this properly, they lose their edits and user-supplied metadata, and even if they do it properly they will lose their collections and virtual copies and pick flags and a few other things that I can't remember right now.

And again, I state my opinion that doing all this work is a relative waste of time, you'd be better off keywording and adding other metadata to your photos, and use the filter bar to find photos by date; and stop worrying about getting nice neat folders.

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Dec 06, 2016 0
New Here ,
Dec 06, 2016

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Yes, you will probably lose your metatags if the metatags is not stored as sidecars to the main files in RAW-format. But, if the archive is a complete mess and you do not know how many trillions of duplicates, it is maybe necessary the reorganized the pictures as described.

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Dec 06, 2016 0
LEGEND ,
Dec 06, 2016

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PAAASHEIM wrote:

Yes, you will probably lose your metatags if the metatags is not stored as sidecars to the main files in RAW-format.

I'm glad you agree with this, it's too bad your original statement of this method of re-organizing didn't mention this important piece of information at all.

Again, I state (more completely than before) that by removing a file from the catalog and then importing it again (even if the sidecar file has the metadata) the user will lose: collections, edit history, pick flags, virtual copies, books, web pages, slideshows and a few other things in Lightroom.

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Dec 06, 2016 0
New Here ,
Dec 06, 2016

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The main reason why it is smart to save pictures in folders based on which camera you use and the date and time is because that is the normal way Adobe Lightroom store pictures when importing them to the catalog, and because you have the possibility to add keywards and other metatags to the pictures. Each pictures does represent a dozen of keywords where each of them can be the perfect name of the folder where you want to store the pictures. So, it does not make any sense to try create a smart folder name where you store your original photos in the archive - It is impossible. The only safe undiscussable way to give the folder a name is give the folder a name name when the photo was taken - It's a kind of a matter of fact! Use keywords and create different collections in Ligthrooms based on the keywords you have addes. NB! Do not save the metadata to any other photoformat than the RAW/NEF format because the metatags will then be stored in a sidecar to the original file. If you save the metatags to fx. a JPEG-file, the date oif "Last change" will be altered.

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Dec 06, 2016 0
LEGEND ,
Dec 06, 2016

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So leave the old stuff organized in whatever folders they are in, and change the way the new photos are imported so that you can have the capture date (which is a Lightroom default, takes no effort) and add keywords and other metadata to all.

Or to quote the esteemed John Beardsworth earlier in this thread: "Leave the old stuff as it is, and get new stuff right from now on."

You, PAAASHEIM, have not acknowledged that your procedure of importing again has major flaws, that re-importing will cause you to lose some or all of your metadata and edits.

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