Advanced Renaming Workflow

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Today’s Question: In reference to the question and answer [on March 14th] about adding text to filenames, I wonder if there is any way to use the features of Adobe Bridge and Lightroom together or in conjunction without messing everything up?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It is not really possible (at least without creating significant additional work for yourself) to use Adobe Bridge for renaming your photos after you have imported them into Lightroom. However, you could most certainly take advantage of the more advanced renaming options in Bridge before importing photos into Lightroom.

More Detail: Adobe Bridge includes some features for file renaming that go beyond what is available in Adobe Lightroom. For example, in Bridge you can rename through the use of a string substitution option, which is not available in Lightroom. You could use this feature to replace the “IMG_” text that precedes the sequence number in the filename for many camera models with more meaningful text related to your name or photo shoot details, as just one example of how this feature might be useful.

However, if you use Adobe Bridge to rename photos that are being managed by Adobe Lightroom, you’ll quickly create a potentially significant problem for yourself. By renaming photos outside the context of your Lightroom catalog, the photos will suddenly become “missing” within Lightroom, because those photos can’t be located with the filenames that are expected based on your Lightroom catalog. You would need to reconnect all of the renamed photos manually within Lightroom to resolve this issue, which could be time-consuming and frustrating.

Therefore, the only real option that would provide the additional renaming features of Adobe Bridge for photos you wish to manage in Adobe Lightroom would be to rename the photos using Adobe Bridge before importing those photos into Lightroom.

You could, for example, download and rename the photos to the intended storage location using Bridge, and then import those photos into your Lightroom catalog using the “Add” option found at the top-center of the Import dialog in Lightroom. Most importantly, if you’re going to rename your photos (or perform any other work) after those photos have been imported into your Lightroom catalog, that work should be performed (or initiated) from within Lightroom.