Collapsing Multiple Folders

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Today’s Question: When searching and scrolling through the list of Folders in Lightroom, I need to click the triangle icons to reveal sub-folders. After doing this repeatedly there are all of these expanded folders, which makes searching take much longer. Is there a way to “bulk” collapse the folders?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can collapse a folder along with all sub-folders by holding the Alt/Option key while clicking on the spinner (triangle) control for the top-level folder. This same option can be employed for the top-level parent folder to collapse (or expand) all folders and sub-folders on an entire hard drive, for example.

More Detail: When browsing a hierarchical structure (such as the folder structure represented in the Folders list in Lightroom) you will find a triangular icon to the left of each folder name. This triangle is a “spinner” control, which enables you to expand or collapse a folder structure, to reveal or hide sub-folders contained within a folder. In Lightroom, if that triangle is solid it indicates there are folders contained within the folder. A dotted triangle indicates there are no sub-folders.

If you hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh while clicking on a spinner control, you will expand or collapse (depending on the current state) all sub-folders at all levels within the folder you are clicking the spinner control for.

Taken a step further, if you reveal the parent folder for a top-level folder, you will reveal the hard drive itself, enabling you to expand or collapse all folders in your entire storage structure on the entire drive.

So, for example, let’s assume you have expanded a variety of folders and sub-folders, as noted in today’s question. If you want to collapse all folders across the entire drive, you would first need to reveal the “folder” that actually represents the hard drive. To do so, right-click on any top-level folder on that drive and choose “Show Parent Folder” from the popup menu that appears.

You can then hold the Alt/Option key on the keyboard and click on the spinner control for the top folder that represents the hard drive itself. After collapsing all folders, you can release the Alt/Option key and simply click on the spinner control for the folder representing the hard drive to reveal the folders at the top level on the hard drive, without revealing any sub-folders within those folders.

When you’re finished working with the folder that represents the hard drive, you can right-click on that folder and choose “Hide This Parent” from the popup menu that appears. At that point you will once again only be viewing the top-level folders in your overall storage structure, without the folder representing the hard drive itself.