19 Replies Latest reply on Jan 11, 2016 8:56 AM by dj_paige

    How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import

    Stefan.Aalten-Voogd Level 1

      Hi,

      I'm just getting started with Lightroom, so please excuse the newbie question.

      All my pictures are on an external hard drive, in the J:/Pictures folder.

      What do I need to do in Lightroom so that any new pictures added to this folder are automatically added ("imported") to the Lightroom library/database? i.e. does Lightroom "monitor" folders in the background for any new pictures?

      Many thanks.

      Stefan

        • 1. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
          dj_paige Level 9

          There is limited capability in Lightroom to do this.

          https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/help/import-photos-automatically.html

           

          In the case where you are adding photos into existing folders with existing photos, you'd have to import the photos yourself.

           

          Since you are just starting out, I recommend a different approach, one that is simpler and less prone to human errors. When you return to your computer with new photos in your camera, import them ALL into Lightroom in one operation in which the photos are put into folders named by capture date. This way, there is never an issue that photos are not in Lightroom and you have forgotten to import them. Once imported, you can do whatever organizing is needed, such as assigning keywords and other metadata to your photos.

          • 2. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
            Chetna Srivastava Adobe Employee

            Hi Stefan,

             

            You need to go to Import window in Lightroom > choose your source of import as the Pictures folder on J:\ drive > choose Add at top (so that the original location is recognized by Lightroom) > hit Import.

            New Pictures would not be imported automatically. You will have to manually import new images.

            You can refer these tutorials :

            Products | Lightroom | Adobe TV

            Learn Lightroom, get help and support | Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5

             

            Regards,

            Chetna

            • 3. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
              Stefan.Aalten-Voogd Level 1

              Hi dj_paige, many thanks for the link - that looks like the answer I was after.

              As for your suggested approach: how would this work for my scenario where I am scanning pictures from negatives, using my trusty Nikon CoolScan V? No camera is involved - they're just new TIFF images that are placed in the corresponding folder within my J:\Pictures folder. BTW, inside my J:\Pictures folder I have a sub-folder structure according to Year/Month/Event/etc. for example "J:\2001\April\Argentina\picture123.tif" Also, I guess you're assuming all pictures are photographs, i.e. produced by a camera, by I have many pictures which are e.g. maps, cartoons, scanned drawings, etc. Sorry, I should have made that clear to begin with.

              Kind regards,

              Stefan

              • 4. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
                Stefan.Aalten-Voogd Level 1

                Just coming back to the auto-import facility you provided a link to dj_paige. I notice this has some pretty big shortcomings:

                - No support for sub-folders

                - And (incredibly) this: "You can't choose an existing folder that contains photos as a watched folder."

                But you did say the capability was "limited" - I can see what you mean! :-)

                • 5. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
                  dj_paige Level 9

                  Minor change to account for scanning.

                   

                  So, you sit down and scan a bunch of images. This bunch of images should all go into a single empty folder initially, then when scanning is done, import ALL of them into Lightroom. Once the photos are imported into Lightroom, you can organize them by assigning keywords and other metadata (highly recommended by me) or by moving the photos to desired folders from within Lightroom (not recommended by me).

                  • 6. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
                    dj_paige Level 9

                    I think the underlying idea of the Lightroom designers was for you to import new photos, rather than Lightroom trying to find new photos, hence the limited support.

                    • 7. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
                      Stefan.Aalten-Voogd Level 1

                      I still don't quite understand. My folder hierarchy is a given, and I suspect that's the case for many people. New pictures can appear anywhere in my folder hierarchy, not just in a single empty folder.

                       

                      Let's pick a different use case instead of scanning.

                       

                      For the sake of argument, I might go into an existing folder, say "1992\Christmas", copy an existing picture and then edit that (let's say I crop it and I draw a silly moustache on someone's face). I now have the original picture, already in Lightroom's library ("imported"), and the new picture (which belongs in that same folder, as it's still a picture from "Christmas 1992", albeit edited by me at a subsequent date) but the latter is not yet in Lightroom's library but should be - and if I have understood correctly, the only way to import that new picture is by me specifying it explicitly/manually to Lightroom?

                      • 8. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
                        dj_paige Level 9

                        I still don't quite understand.  My folder hierarchy is a given, and I suspect that's the case for many people. New pictures can appear anywhere in my folder hierarchy, not just in a single empty folder.

                        I understand. My bias is strongly towards using keywords and not folders to organize, hence my earlier recommendation to use keywords. But many people do it your way, so in your case, you could certainly import and then move the photos (all within Lightroom) to the desired folder.

                        For the sake of argument, I might go into an existing folder, say "1992\Christmas", copy an existing picture and then edit that (let's say I crop it and I draw a silly moustache on someone's face). I now have the original picture, already in Lightroom's library ("imported"), and the new picture (which belongs in that same folder, as it's still a picture from "Christmas 1992", albeit edited by me at a subsequent date) but the latter is not yet in Lightroom's library but should be - and if I have understood correctly, the only way to import that new picture is by me specifying it explicitly/manually to Lightroom?

                         

                        Please understand that Lightroom works very differently than you describe, and very differently than other file management and photo editor programs that you may have used in the past. This is so important, I am going to say it again. "It again"

                         

                        Please discard all thoughts about how other editors and file management programs work from your mind, they will not serve you well when using Lightroom.  

                         

                        In Lightroom, there is no need (in fact it is extra work that provides no benefit) to copy an existing photo before editing. The edited photo (without the mustache) will exist in Lightroom only until you specifically export it — which you would NOT do unless you needed the photo for some non-Lightroom purpose. Mustaches cannot be added in Lightroom. So your statement "but the latter is not yet in Lightroom's library but should be" is incorrect, the edited photo IS in Lightroom, as is the original.

                         

                        Lightroom is a non-destructive editor ... it NEVER changes the image portion of your original photo files. When you import the photo into Lightroom and then edit it, both the original and edited version are now available in Lightroom. By default, the Library module will only show you the edited version, but you can still obtain the un-edited version and do work on it using the Develop Module.

                         

                        Lastly (for now), photos are not stored in Lightroom. They are stored on your hard disk somewhere, in the location you put them, or in the location you instructed Lightroom to put them.

                        • 9. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
                          Stefan.Aalten-Voogd Level 1

                          Thanks again dj_paige - really appreciate your insights! Sorry to keep asking away but I still don't "get" it ...

                          Firstly I should say that I don't consider Lightroom as the only piece of software I would use to operate on my picture files. So the "moustache" example was just for the sake of argument, but maybe I should have made clear that the new file ("with moustache") would have been created by a non-Lightroom piece of software in my example. Let's say I did this in, I don't know, "Microsoft Paint". So the new file just "appears" in a folder. My question is: how would Lightroom "know" about this new file? What if it's not just a single new file that "appears" but many new files, in many sub-folders (within my J:\Pictures folder), which may or may not already contain existing pictures.

                          • 10. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
                            dj_paige Level 9

                            So the new file just "appears" in a folder. My question is: how would Lightroom "know" about this new file?

                            Lightroom does not know. You have to tell it, by either importing the photo or synchronizing the folder.

                             

                            An better approach is to use the Lightroom command "Edit In..." which allows you to send a photo from Lightroom to an external editor, and then Lightroom is aware of the end results of the edits of the external editor.

                             

                            What if it's not just a single new file that "appears" but many new files, in many sub-folders (within my J:\Pictures folder), which may or may not already contain existing pictures.

                            Either use "Edit In..."; or you'd have to synchronize the parent folder, which ought to also synchronize the subfolders (but I admit I have never tried it). I do not like the synchronize folder method, because it will also delete photos from Lightroom if the actual photo itself is not found in the folder. This to me is an undesirable effect of the synchronize folder command, although I also think it was what the designers intended, it is not a "bug".

                             

                            Again, I express my sincere dislike for folder based organizing. All of these problems about finding photos in various different folders disappear if you use keywords. All of the difficulties you are talking about, plus other problems that have been written about multitudes of times in this forum and other similar forums simply disappear if you stop using folders to organize and you use keywords and other metadata to organize. As a sub-opinion, Lightroom is a beautifully designed program where things flow smoothly when you use it as the designers intended and take advantage of its features; and it is a difficult and cumbersome to use program when you work against it's strengths and use it in ways that were really not intended. The fact that you are struggling with these ideas is evidence of that.

                            • 11. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
                              johnrellis Most Valuable Participant

                              My workflow for scanning slides with a Coolscan with slide feeder: The scanner dumps the scans into a folder that is auto-imported by LR.  I do my edits and metadata tagging in that folder, which acts as the "work" folder, and when done I use LR to move the finished scans into a permanent folder, usually named by the number of the tray in which the slides had been stored.  After that, I use the metadata (develop date on the slides, assigned capture date, keywords, caption, etc.) to search and organize.  Rarely do I need the name of the folder.

                               

                              I like to use auto import because it lets me overlap the scanning (a couple minutes per slide) with the other stages of the processing pipeline: generating previews during import, auto cropping with a plugin, batch application of a couple of Photoshop droplets, rarely editing in Photoshop, final color correction and touch up, metadata tagging.   I'm almost never waiting for the scanner, LR, or Photoshop to complete an action, even though total processing time per slide is easily several minutes.

                               

                              But as dj_paige said, you'll get frustrated if you try to force the square peg of LR's capabilities into the round hole of primarily folder-based organizing.

                               

                              It's always good to provide Adobe with feedback on new features and changes to existing features, though.  You can do so at the official Adobe feedback forum: Recently active topics in Photoshop Family about Photoshop Lightroom. When you make a suggestion, the more detail you can provide, the more likely it will influence the product developers.  (This forum is primarily user-to-user with some first-line customer support.)

                              • 12. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
                                dj_paige Level 9

                                And just to further explain this situation in the context of this discussion, the reason this works for John is that he is working with one folder when he scans, and he moves the results to a single permanent folder. He is not working in a mode as the original question asked, where photos wind up in multiple folders and then somehow he has to search and find the folders and new photos. Using my words, he is working with Lightroom's strengths, instead of working against them.

                                • 13. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
                                  Stefan.Aalten-Voogd Level 1

                                  Hi, and thanks again for the really helpful replies and insights! I would just like to come back to this, having given the question a bit more thought. My question re. "monitoring folders" may have been a bit misleading to start with. Yes, I was asking about "monitoring folders for changes" but what I really should have asked is how Lightroom would "know" about changes to the picture files themselves, where these changes are made "outside" Lightroom. That, for me, is an absolute prerequisite. I am quite happy to adapt my workflow to ensure that this requirement can be met.

                                   

                                  The starting point when managing any data is that the data, itself, should be the "truth" and no external knowledge should be required, e.g. in the form of an application (such as Lightroom) that keeps a separate record of "data about the data" (metadata), e.g. location, date taken, people tags, etc. As such, the data should be available to multiple applications for editing (not all simultaneously of course). I accept that an application that maintains its own internal library/database will need to run some sort of "refresh" process to update that database, and that is really what is at the heart of my original question - sorry for not making that clear to begin with.

                                   

                                  The scenarios are then as follows - in all cases these are changes that are made "outside" Lightroom, and for the sake of simplicity let's just say I have a single folder called J:\Pictures.

                                   

                                  a) A picture is deleted from file system. How does Lightroom know about this, so it can remove the file from its internal library/database?

                                  b) A new picture is added to the file system, i.e. a new file "appears" in J:\Pictures. How does Lightroom know about this, so it can add the file to its internal library/database?

                                  c) A picture is changed, e.g. image data (resized, cropped, rotated, brightened, etc.), date taken, GPS coordinates, people tags, etc. How does the Lightroom internal library/database get updated, either via a manual or automated process?

                                  d) A picture is renamed or moved on the file system, e.g. from J:\Pictures\picture1.jpg to J:\Pictures\picture2.jpg. Is this simply a combination of (a) and (b) as far as Lightroom is concerned?

                                   

                                  Would really appreciate further insights/thoughts/answers to this question - and if it's not too much to ask, any Lightroom specifics as to how to deal with (a-d) would be fantastic.

                                   

                                  Many thanks!

                                  • 14. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
                                    dj_paige Level 9

                                    Hi, and thanks again for the really helpful replies and insights! I would just like to come back to this, having given the question a bit more thought. My question re. "monitoring folders" may have been a bit misleading to start with. Yes, I was asking about "monitoring folders for changes" but what I really should have asked is how Lightroom would "know" about changes to the picture files themselves, where these changes are made "outside" Lightroom. That, for me, is an absolute prerequisite. I am quite happy to adapt my workflow to ensure that this requirement can be met.

                                    If you mean that you are going to use another program to edit the photos and OVERWRITE the originals, do not do this. This will cause you no end of trouble in Lightroom. Instead, use the Lightroom Edit In... command as mentioned above which will create a copy to edit that Lightroom will know about.

                                    The starting point when managing any data is that the data, itself, should be the "truth" and no external knowledge should be required, e.g. in the form of an application (such as Lightroom) that keeps a separate record of "data about the data" (metadata), e.g. location, date taken, people tags, etc.

                                    Ok, stop right there. If that's what you want, you should NOT use Lightroom. In fact, based on all your questions, it sure seems like Lightroom is the wrong tool for you. I suggest you either have to change your entire thought process and requirements, or NOT use Lightroom.

                                     

                                    I'm not going to address your other questions, as there seems to be no need for me to do so. You are headed down a very problematic and unsatisfactory path, you will not like Lightroom, you will not get benefit from it, it does not meet your needs. Period.

                                     

                                    You do have other "organizing" software that seems to meet your stated needs exactly. I recommend you use your operating system to organize your photos.

                                    • 15. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
                                      Stefan.Aalten-Voogd Level 1

                                      Thanks a lot dj_paige, and for confirming my hunch that Lightroom is not for me. I'm still intrigued about how those four use cases would be dealt with - in theory - in Lightroom though. Or is it simply a case that "Lightroom is unable to deal with these scenarios", i.e. at all (rather than just "problematically" / "via workaround").

                                      I do find it hard to understand why, in effect, Lightroom ends up taking over complete ownership of all my picture files. Is there really no way around this?

                                      • 16. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
                                        dj_paige Level 9

                                        I do find it hard to understand why, in effect, Lightroom ends up taking over complete ownership of all my picture files. Is there really no way around this?

                                        Lightroom does not do this. Lightroom only does things to your photos when you, the human user, specifically tell Lightroom to do things to your photos.

                                        • 17. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
                                          dj_paige Level 9

                                          a) A picture is deleted from file system. How does Lightroom know about this, so it can remove the file from its internal library/database?

                                          b) A new picture is added to the file system, i.e. a new file "appears" in J:\Pictures. How does Lightroom know about this, so it can add the file to its internal library/database?

                                          c) A picture is changed, e.g. image data (resized, cropped, rotated, brightened, etc.), date taken, GPS coordinates, people tags, etc. How does the Lightroom internal library/database get updated, either via a manual or automated process?

                                          d) A picture is renamed or moved on the file system, e.g. from J:\Pictures\picture1.jpg to J:\Pictures\picture2.jpg. Is this simply a combination of (a) and (b) as far as Lightroom is concerned?

                                          a) Lightroom will know the file is not present. The human has to remove the file from the Lightroom database, Lightroom does not do this for you

                                          b) The human has to tell Lightroom that there is a new file, Lightroom does not find this information for you

                                          c) The human has to tell Lightroom that there is new metadata and that Lightroom should update its database, Lightroom does not do this for you

                                          d) Lightroom will know the file is not present. The human has to notify Lightroom to update it's database with the new name or location of the file, Lightroom does not do this for you

                                           

                                          All of your questions assume you are using an absolutely unfriendly workflow as far as Lightroom is concerned. The advice given earlier still applies. If you work with Lightroom's strengths, Lightroom is a brilliant and easy to use software. If you work against Lightroom's strengths (as your questions continue to imply that you will be doing), Lightroom is a cumbersome and difficult piece of software.

                                          • 18. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
                                            Stefan.Aalten-Voogd Level 1

                                            Thanks again dj_paige. I apologise for the continued questions, but I guess what I'm trying to find out is where you say "the human has to [remove/tell/notify] Lightroom": how exactly would this be done in each case? Is it via a Lightroom configuration setting / re-import / auto-sync? Would the worst case to simply be to import the whole lot afresh, in effect overwriting Ligthroom's database? (accepting that this would not be an efficient solution). I do note, and understand, your advice.

                                            • 19. Re: How to configure Lightroom to monitor folders, automatically import
                                              dj_paige Level 9

                                              Re-importing existing photos is never the answer to any Lightroom problem, except as a last resort when everything you have tried to fix the catalog problem doesn't work, and then you will lose some or all of your metadata and edits.

                                               

                                              a) select the missing file(s) in Lightroom, press delete or backspace

                                              b) new files have to be imported, or use synchronize folder

                                              c) select the file(s), use the menu command Metadata->Read Metadata from files

                                              d) click on the exclamation point icon in Lightroom for each renamed/moved photo, point Lightroom to the file's new name or new folder; or reconnect whole folders by right-clicking on a folder name and select Find Missing Folder

                                               

                                              The above should not be used as a regular task in your workflow, in my opinion, they are techniques that are to be used to fix mistakes. Better would be to not use your operating system and other programs to manage your photos and metadata (although there are exceptions). use Lightroom for all file and metadata management (again, there are exceptions).