Preserve Original Filename

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Today’s Question: I have avoided using the renaming function in Lightroom when downloading. When I download using Adobe Bridge, I have the option to rename and preserve the current filename in metadata.  This is valuable to me should I ever elect to go back to batch rename a series of photos with a new custom name.  I see no similar option to do in Lightroom during download. Is there a way?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Lightroom preserves the original filename in metadata automatically when you rename after importing, but not if you rename during the import. Therefore, the simple solution here would be to wait until after importing to rename your images in Lightroom.

More Detail: When you rename photos in Lightroom, the original filename is preserved automatically, and will be presented with the “Original Name” field in the Metadata section of the right panel in the Library module. This feature only applies if you rename after your photos are already imported into your Lightroom catalog. If you rename during import (or before importing) the original filename will not be displayed within Lightroom. So even if you use the feature in Adobe Bridge to preserve the original filename in metadata, that original filename won’t be displayed in Lightroom.

So, by renaming within Lightroom, but making sure to perform that renaming after you have already imported your photos into Lightroom, you’ll always be able to access the original filename within your Lightroom catalog.

Note, by the way, that if you use Adobe Bridge to rename photos and turn on the “Preserve current filename in XMP Metadata” checkbox, that filename can be found in the Raw Filename field of the Camera Raw section of the Metadata panel, which can be revealed by choosing Window > Metadata Panel from the menu.

I generally recommend making full use of the Import feature in Lightroom, which includes using Lightroom to download from your memory cards rather than using other software. Part of my reason for this recommendation is the concern that downloading images separate from the process of importing into Lightroom adds a certain degree of complexity to your workflow. I also feel that it creates a risk that you may forget to import into Lightroom some of the photos you downloaded with other software. However, as noted above, if you want to preserve the original filename for your photos, you should avoid using the file renaming feature when importing photos into Lightroom.