Today’s Question: I have some serious Lightroom file/folder management issues. For example, if I look at my “2013” image folder in Lightroom I see only three folders containing maybe a couple of hundred images. If I go into Finder and look at that same “2013” folder, I see that I actually have about 40 folders with numerous sub-folders and easily several thousand images. What do I need to do to make all of the images on my Mac hard drive accessible in Lightroom and how do I avoid this problem in the future?
Tim’s Quick Answer: Fortunately in this case the solution is relatively simple. You just need to perform an import operation from your primary photo storage location. You’ll want to turn on the “Include Subfolders” option and employ the “Add” option in conjunction with the “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” setting.
More Detail: The issue here is that you either haven’t imported all photos from your hard drive, or some of the photos that had been imported were removed from your Lightroom catalog without being deleted from your hard drive. That results in photos that are on your hard drive but not included in your Lightroom catalog. This can obviously be a problem if you’re attempting to use Lightroom to manage your entire library of photographic images.
Let’s assume that your date-based folder structure is included within a parent folder called “PHOTOS”. You can initiate the import process by clicking the Import button at the bottom of the left panel in the Library module.
In the Import dialog, first set the top-level storage location for your photos as the source of the import operation. In this case that would be the “PHOTOS” folder referred to above. Then be sure the “Include Subfolders” checkbox is turned on. This enables you to import all photos in all subfolders within the currently selected source folder.
Next, be sure the option at the top-center of the Import dialog is set to “Add”. This option is used for images that are already where they belong, and that you simply want to add to your Lightroom catalog. On the right panel of the Import dialog be sure the “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” checkbox is turned on, so that only images that aren’t currently in your Lightroom catalog will actually be imported.
Adjust any other settings based on your preferences, and then click the Import button at the bottom-right of the Import dialog. All of the photos within the source folder you selected, including images within subfolders of that source location, that are not already included in the current Lightroom catalog will be added to that catalog.