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Navigating Folders in Lightroom

Aug 2, 2012 11:16 PM

Tags: #folder_structure #lightroom4

Why is it so difficult and awkward to navigate and find folders in Lightroom?  Can it be configured to behave more like Windows Explorer?  The only situation in which it's easy to navigate and locate folders is when importing pictures.  Any advice?

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    Aug 3, 2012 12:07 PM   in reply to edhopkins3

    That is a little like asking, why does a phonebook not list everyone in the world, including people who do not have a phone number? The phonebook is a special-purpose book listing phone-numbers, each one with a person's name associated with it. So where there is no phone number, there is no entry in the book.


    Lightroom works by modifying internal LR information which was created when each image was imported. It can browse quickly and flexibly around the images in its library (even when the drive they are on, is not connected) because it already has them in its database index, plus an internally cached thumbnail preview. 


    If you habitually use LR rather than some other method, to copy images from the camera card into the computer in the first place - then LR will have already added them and this [difficulty] will not arise. Or if the images are already in the computer, then using the add option of LR import will cause them to appear there hereafter.


    The purpose of Lightroom's Folders panel is only to help you to use the pictures which you have imported. It is not a file browser.

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    Aug 3, 2012 10:23 AM   in reply to edhopkins3

    Managing the image library

    Lightroom has been designed to offer a flexible workflow that meets the requirements of all types of photographers. When you work with Lightroom, you begin by explicitly choosing the photos you would like to add to the catalog. From this point on, the way Lightroom manages those images is actually not that much different from working with any other type of browser program. Most browser programs are like glorified versions of the Mac Finder or Windows Explorer; they are mainly useful for inspecting the contents on a computer and allowing you to see everything that is on a drive or in a specific folder. The main difference with Lightroom is that you control which images are imported into Lightroom. Images can be imported from a camera card, directly from the camera (via the Tethered Capture panel), or by copying them from an existing folder. Or, you can tell Lightroom to add photos to the catalog by importing them from the current folder location. After images have been imported into the catalog, anything you do in Lightroom (such as changing a folder name or filename, deleting a file, or moving a file) are mirrored at the system level. When deleting, you have the option to remove the file from the catalog only or move the file to the trash for permanent deletion. Working with the Folders panel in Lightroom is, therefore, not dissimilar from working with a hierarchical folder list tree view in a browser program. But in Lightroom, the list tree in the Folders panel shows only those photos that you have requested to be in the catalog and nothing else. Of course, a hierarchical folder management is fine if you know in which folders your images are stored. But when you start working with many thousands of photographs, you’ll soon find this is no longer such a practical solution. Lightroom can store all your images in a neat hierarchy of folders, but its real power as an image asset manager comes in when you use the Filter bar features to search for images in the catalog. Once you get into the habit of entering descriptive keyword information each time you import new photos, you’ll be able to search your archive more easily and more quickly when browsing for specific photographs.


    take a look at this link further:

    i find lightroom really more geared in structure towards photographers and the images.....


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    Aug 3, 2012 6:34 PM   in reply to edhopkins3

    Sorry that I misinterpreted your first post. Many people struggle with the idea that they cannot see folders and images that have not been imported - I can see now, that was not the issue here.


    If I understand you correctly, you are not seeing the imported images in the proper hierarchy (tree view) that reflects the way they are stored on disk? If you are just seeing a long list of unconnected individual folders representing a series of unrelated imports, then it can be helpful to right-click on one of these loose subfolders, and select "show parent folder".


    This will start to organise things better - since any other folders present in the listing which happen to live physically inside that same parent folder, will automatically move up or down the folders panel, into the proper location nested inside that. Then try the next parent level up, and so on. This is not actually moving any folders around; just causing LR to make a more systematic display of these.

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    Aug 3, 2012 9:46 PM   in reply to edhopkins3

    When you look at the images in Lightroom, in the Folders panel, do they show up in the same folder hierarchy as Windows Explorer? If you're lost because they don't match Explorer, I can understand how that might happen. When you add folders one by one, each folder is listed at the top level of the Folders panel, even if those folders aren't at the same level on the disk. They end up next to each other, rather than in the same tree structure under the same parent folder (such as My Pictures) as in Windows Explorer. Lightroom does this to keep the focus on the photo folders you imported, not add the complexity of the entire disk's folder tree. But maybe you'd prefer to see everything and navigate it the same way as in Explorer.


    If that sounds like the problem, one thing you can try is to right-click one of the folders in Lightroom and choose Show Parent Folder. This will add the next folder up in the hierarchy, and if you do that repeatedly, eventually you'll display the folder that contains them all. At that point, the folder hierarchy should look like it does in Windows Explorer.

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    Aug 3, 2012 10:15 PM   in reply to edhopkins3

    Glad it takes care of the problem, Ed. I should have read Richard's post more closely before posting, then I would have seen that he had already given you the right solution!

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