You can't do that. Images have to be present to do an import.
Although LR is a Database system you can't directly edit the database file, at least not that I know of.
While it is possible, if you are capable of programming in SQL, to modify the database and "import" the information that you are describing, I have no idea if it will work without the actual photos. I'm guessing that if you added to the database (via SQL) a "dummy" file name and folder location (in other words, a file name and folder location that doesn't exist), Lightroom would display an empty grey rectangle and the missing file indicator, but if you did it right, all the other information would be usable. Again, I point out that I have no idea if this would actually work, but it sounds plausible.
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If you have a little experience with command-line scripting (Windows or Mac), you could use the following approach:
1. Make a dummy JPEG, perhaps a grey background with the letters TBS (To Be Scanned). Call it "tbs.jpg".
2. Using Excel or your favorite text editor, transform the spreadsheet into a script that copies "tbs.jpg" to each listed filename. E.g. on Mac:
cp TBS.jpg slide001.jpg
cp TBS.jpg slide002.jpg
3. Import all the slide*.jpg files into LR.
4. Use the LR/Transporter plugin to import the descriptions from the spreadsheet into the LR catalog, storing the descriptions in whichever metadata field you choose (e.g. Caption or User Comment).
Thanks for your responses. I would not attempt to modify the databases. I have been thinking as an alternative, would be to batch create lots of small blank image files, each with the filename to match my list of file names in excel. Then I would simply import these blank image files, and then import the descriptions of each file from my excel spreadsheet. What I need is a utility to create batches of jpg image files, using a list of file names held in excel. Any thoughts?
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Here's an outline of how to make the script with Excel. Add a new column to the sheet, with the formula:
=CONCATENATE("cp tbs.jpg ",A1,".jpg")
Then select that column, do Edit > Copy, open up Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac), do Edit > Paste, and then save the file as "copyfiles.bat" (Windows) or "copyfiles.sh" (Mac). Then execute the script from the command line, after "cd"-ing to the appropriate folder.
Many thanks for that very helpful answer. I am not very confident about using scripts in excel, but you have given me very good instructions to do that.
My preference would still be to use a batch utility, if one exists, to create the necessary image files, using a simple user interface. A brief search on google has not identified such a utility, although there are utilities to create lots of jpeg files, and the ability to define the size, and content (image) and number of jpegs, but nothing to generate file names using a pre-defined list of filenames. I wonder if I create multiple jpeg files, if there is then a utility to change the file names to match a pre-defined list of filenames.
My overall requirement is for a simple utility, to create lots of 'placeholders'. As this is not built into Lightroom, I realise I may have to spend some time on this, and I appreciate the instructions from johnrellis.
Hello again johnrellis
I marked the post as answered by you, which you have done. However, having looked at your responses, I am getting a bit confused (my fault entirely!). I am keen to do this in an automated way, as I have over 30,000 35mm slides, and a lesser number of 35mm negatives, catalogued in Excel (they started off in 'Superbase' but fortunately I exported the records to Excel before I no longer had Superbase on my PC)
First of all, I have searched the web for GUI utilities to do what I want, and although I have found some file duplicators, and some file re-namers, I am not sure they will actually do what I want to do, and certainly not in a single utility, and some cost money, I'm happy to pay for something that does the trick, but I am reluctant to spend too much time trying with demos first, if there is a simpler solution.
I wonder, if you could re-state your solution, in step by step stages. Your first response provided a command line solution, and the second used an Excel script (although is Excel only being used to create the script, and I still need to execute using the command line?. You stated "Then execute the script from the command line, after "cd"-ing to the appropriate folder." - can you explain ""cd"-ing to the appropriate folder."
I am sorry for all these questions. I am fairly computer literate, but have no experience of command line instructions, but willing to try.
By the way, I will certainly follow your suggestion to use the LR/Transporter plug-in once I have create the necessary 'placeholder' image files, so that I can add the image descriptions to the LR database.