Backup Preference


Today’s Question: Would you briefly describe why you favor GoodSync over Time Machine [for Macintosh] or other software such as Carbon Copy Cloner?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I favor GoodSync ( over Time Machine because GoodSync creates an exact backup copy of the source hard drive. Carbon Copy Cloner provides the same basic features, but in testing I simply found that I preferred the workflow and interface in GoodSync.

More Detail: GoodSync and Carbon Copy Cloner provide very similar features that enable you to maintain a backup that is an exact copy of the source data. This approach makes it very easy to recover from a hard drive failure, since your backup is essentially an exact copy of the source drive (at least up to the time of your last backup).

Both GoodSync and Carbon Copy Cloner could be used in a similar workflow, and I think both are very good products. Based on my testing I simply found that I prefer the workflow and interface in GoodSync. Ultimately I would have been happy using either product.

Time Machine is a bit different, in that it creates an incremental backup. One of the special features of Time Machine compared to a more typical incremental backup is that Time Machine maintains different backup versions over time. So, for example, let’s assume you had a file on your desktop that you accidentally deleted. In Time Machine you could move back in time to a date when that file still existed, and recover the file based on a backup from that date.

Of course, Time Machine is limited in how far back in time it can go with the backups, based on the amount of storage space available on the hard drive you’re using as a Time Machine backup.

My preference is to use a product such as GoodSync for backing up my primary storage, especially on external hard drives. I use Time Machine as something of a supplemental backup for the internal hard drive on my computer, but not for the external hard drives. In other words, I see Time Machine as a valuable tool for certain backup scenarios, and I find software like GoodSync to be invaluable for the primary backup of my most important data (such as photos).

You can learn more about GoodSync here:

And don’t forget I have a video course that teaches my workflow in GoodSync, which you can find in the GreyLearning library here:

Copy Safer Than Move?


Today’s Question: Would it be safer to copy the photos to the new hard drive rather than move them, or does it make any difference?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, I do generally recommend using a copy-and-delete approach rather than using the move command when you want to move photos from one location to another. However, in the context of Lightroom it is better to move rather than copy photos, making sure of course that you have a good backup of all photos before you begin the process.

More Detail: Today’s question is a follow-up from a prior question about moving photos from a nearly-full hard drive to a new hard drive, for photos that were being managed within Lightroom.

Under normal circumstances I would suggest copying photos from the source drive to the destination drive. After that copy operation is complete, you could theoretically delete the source files from the original drive. However, in general I instead recommend renaming the folder they are in to something that indicates it is a backup.

I would then update all of my backups before considering deleting the original files from the hard drive.

With Lightroom Classic things are slightly more complicated, because there really isn’t an easy way to copy the photos within Lightroom and then delete the originals. Furthermore, I don’t recommend performing this work outside of Lightroom, as it can create a variety of problems within your catalog and workflow.

Because of these various factors, when you actually want to move photos from one storage device to another within Lightroom, I recommend doing that work directly in Lightroom. Just be sure you have a full backup of all photos and other files on all hard drives you’ll be working with, just in case anything goes wrong.

So, if you are managing photos with Lightroom Classic and want to move photos, first update all of your backups. Then move the photos within Lightroom, make sure everything updates correctly, and then update your backups as well.

Removing Old Software


Today’s Question: My hard drive is filling up with programs and I really need some space. I have the latest 2019 versions of Adobe Photoshop and Bridge. Looking at my program list I still have Bridge and Photoshop 2018 installed. Is it perfectly safe to uninstall those older versions?

Tim’s Quick Answer: As long as the latest version of the application is working properly, including any plug-ins and configuration settings, it is perfectly safe to uninstall the older version of the application.

More Detail: When Adobe releases a major update to one of their Creative Cloud applications, it will install an additional copy of the software alongside the previous version. For minor updates the existing installation is simply updated, without creating an additional copy of the software.

Once the latest version of a Creative Cloud application is working correctly and configured to your preferences (including the installation of plug-ins if applicable), you can most certainly remove the older version of the application to free up space on your hard drive.

I recommend uninstalling using the Creative Cloud application. On the Apps tab of the Creative Cloud application you can first locate the application that has more than one version installed. To the left of the application name you will see a triangle icon, which you can click to expand (or collapse) the list of different versions of the application that are currently installed.

For example, you might have a version 20 of Photoshop (the CC 2019 version) as well as a version 19 (the CC 2018 version). To remove the older version, first click on the popup arrow to the right of the “Open” or “Update” button for the application version you want to uninstall. From the popup that appears choose “Manage” followed by “Uninstall”. In the confirmation dialog that appears, you can choose to remove the application preferences as long as the latest version has been configured completely.

At this point the Creative Cloud application will begin uninstalling the selected older version of the application, freeing up hard drive space in the process.

GoodSync Streamlines Recovery


Today’s Question: How would you recover from having your photos hard drive fail in a way that caused photos to be lost from that drive?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If a master hard drive fails, you could simply recover from the backup drive that had been updated by GoodSync. In fact, GoodSync may very well alert you to the fact that a hard drive is failing in the first place.

More Detail: Today’s question is actually one that I wrote myself, because I experienced a hard drive failure that I was first alerted to by the GoodSync software I recommend for backing up photos (

After downloading photos via an import into my Lightroom Classic catalog, I initiated the process of backing up my photos drive to a backup drive using GoodSync software. During that backup, GoodSync presented an error message that photos could not be read from the source hard drive.

I browsed the hard drive directly, and found that most of the photos were missing from the folder I had just imported photos into. Fortunately, I had a backup created with GoodSync that I could recover from. I also had a backup of the photos most recently imported into my Lightroom catalog, since I had taken advantage of the option to “Make a Second Copy To” during the import process.

Since I was going to need to replace the failed hard drive, my first step was to purchase a replacement drive. I then used GoodSync to copy all of my photos from the drive that had been used for the most recent backup. I made sure the new drive had the same volume label (or drive letter if I had been using Windows) as the drive that had failed. When I launched Lightroom, everything was in perfect working order. The only photos that were missing were from the most recent import, which hadn’t been backed up by GoodSync because the backup failed when my hard drive was in the process of failing. To recover those photos, I simply copied them to the applicable folder on the new hard drive, since those photos were reflected in my Lightroom catalog already, and were simply missing from the master hard drive at that point.

As a result, I didn’t lose a single photo. I was able to recover my photos very easily thanks to GoodSync, and in fact I was alerted to the impending hard drive failure by error messages presented by GoodSync. So now I’m an even bigger fan of this software than I was before!

Note that if you decide to also use GoodSync to backup your photos, I have a video course in the GreyLearning library that will teach you the workflow I use with this software. You can find that course in the GreyLearning library here:

Interruption when Saving Metadata


Today’s Question: After turning on the option to automatically write metadata to XMP [in Adobe Lightroom Classic], what happens if I exit Lightroom or it crashes while the process is working?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you interrupt the process of saving metadata out to your actual image files in Lightroom Classic, the process will resume the next time you launch Lightroom.

More Detail: You can have Lightroom automatically save standard metadata values to the source image files on your hard drive (or XMP “sidecar” files for proprietary raw captures. This can be done by turning on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox on the Metadata tab of the Catalog Settings dialog.

If you have a large number of photos in your Lightroom catalog and had this option turned off, after turning the option on it may take some time for all of the updates to be written to the files on your hard drive. If that process is interrupted, such as by quitting Lightroom, the process will simply resume the next time you launch Lightroom.

In other words, you don’t need to worry about having had this option turned off previously, or about it being necessary to keep Lightroom running until the process is complete. That’s especially helpful since Lightroom won’t actually tell you when the process is completed after you turn on the setting in the Catalog Settings dialog.

So, you can rest assured that Lightroom will continue updating the metadata for files on your hard drive for all photos in your catalog, even if that process is interrupted along the way.

Adjustments versus Layers


Today’s Question: In Photoshop is it better to use the adjustments or the adjustment layer function on an image.

Tim’s Quick Answer: I recommend using adjustment layers instead of direct adjustments in Photoshop, saving the resulting “master image” as a Photoshop PSD or TIFF image file to preserve those layers for future refinement.

More Detail: I recommend using adjustment layers whenever possible for the adjustments you apply within Photoshop. There are a couple of key reasons for this, which mostly involve ensuring you are maintaining maximum quality for the image as well as flexibility in your workflow.

When you apply an adjustment directly to an image in Photoshop, you are altering the actual pixel values in the source image file. When you use an adjustment layer, you are preserving the original pixel values in the source image file, and simply adding information to the file about the changes in appearance you want to have applied. The appearance of the image will change in Photoshop, but the source pixels remain as they were. Printing or otherwise sharing the photo will result in an appearance based on your adjustments.

By working with adjustment layers, the greatest benefit is that you can always return to your master image file as long as you’ve preserved the adjustment layers as part of the file you save. You can then return to that file at any time and make changes to any of the adjustment layers without negatively impacting image quality. This gives you great flexibility in your workflow, since you can always return to the master image and refine your adjustments.

In addition, using adjustment layers can help prevent a cumulative loss of image quality for the photo. For example, let’s assume you had increased the contrast significantly with a direct adjustment to an image. You later decide you that you want to reduce contrast. Applying an additional adjustment in this context will not result in a photo that has as much detail as when you started, because some of the detail was lost when you increased contrast.

In addition, there can be a degradation in image quality by applying multiple adjustments to an image. Because an adjustment layer doesn’t directly alter the underlying pixels, that adjustment layer only counts as a single adjustment, even if you refine the settings for the layer multiple times.

As a result of these issues, I strongly recommend using an adjustment layer for any adjustment that is available as an adjustment layer in Photoshop. You can then save the image as a Photoshop PSD file or a TIFF image with layers intact, so you can return to the image later and refine any of the adjustment layer settings if you’d like.

Compression versus Cropping


Today’s Question: I believe it is misleading to imply that only changes in actual distance (location of the camera relative to the items being shot) affects compression. The visual perception of compression can be achieved by either changing actual distance between objects (as you correctly stated) or by simulating that effect by using a longer focal lens, and to a lesser degree in post-processing. In my experience, cropping an image using software after an image has been captured in the camera can provide a more compressed view, though it does not give the exact same visual impact of capturing an image with a much longer focal length.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The phenomenon we refer to as “lens compression” is absolutely caused by changing your distance to the scene you are photographing, not by lens focal length or cropping in post-production.

More Detail: Moving your physical position relative to the scene you are photographing is what changes the perspective effect we refer to as “compression”. The focal length is simply adjusting the cropping of the scene. Part of the reason I think it is so critical to understand this is that it places an emphasis on the fact that photographers can change their position to alter the perspective they are capturing in their photographs.

Using a longer focal length lens while photographing from the same position will simply crop the scene. It will not create the effect of compression. To compress the scene you must move farther away from that scene. That distance creates the compression effect. Using a longer lens to retain the same framing of the scene is simply cropping the scene, not creating a compression effect.

You can see visual examples that prove this issue (hopefully once and for all) in a post on the GreyLearning blog here:

Retroactive XMP


Today’s Question: If I haven’t had the auto write XMP option turned on [in Adobe Lightroom Classic], will turning it on only affect photos after I turn it on?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, when you enable the option to automatically write metadata to your photos, Lightroom Classic will update all existing photos as well. It may take a little bit of time for the task to complete, but it will be done automatically in the background.

More Detail: Lightroom Classic includes an option to automatically write supported metadata values to the actual image files, so that most of your metadata will be stored with the actual images that data relates to. The information will be stored in an XMP “sidecar” file for proprietary raw captures, and within the actual file for other image formats.

You can find the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox on the Metadata tab of the Catalog Settings dialog. To bring up the Catalog Settings dialog, choose “Catalog Settings” from the Edit menu on Windows, or from the Lightroom Classic menu in Lightroom.

The checkbox is turned off by default, so that metadata updates are only stored within the Lightroom catalog. That means other applications won’t be able to see the updated metadata for your photos, and that you don’t have the benefit of an automatic backup of some of the most important data about your photos.

When you enable this option, Lightroom will go back and update the files for all existing images, so that once you’ve allowed enough time for the processing to complete (which generally will only take a few minutes), all existing images will have had their metadata updated on the hard drive, in addition to still being included in the Lightroom catalog.

It is important to note that Lightroom-specific features will not be saved to metadata, because they are not part of an established metadata standard. The means the metadata updates will not include Pick and Reject flags, membership in collections, virtual copies, the history for your photos, and other features that are specific to Lightroom and therefore only stored within the Lightroom catalog.

Move to New Hard Drive


Today’s Question: You suggested it was possible to move photos from one hard drive to another within Lightroom [Classic] to free up space on a drive that is getting full. But the new larger external hard drive I bought doesn’t show up in Lightroom. How can I move photos to this new hard drive?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To make a new hard drive visible in Lightroom Classic you’ll first need to create a new folder on that drive within Lightroom. This can be done by clicking the plus (+) icon to the right of the Folders heading on the left panel in the Library module. Choose the “Add Folder” option, and create a new folder on the new hard drive. That folder will then appear on the Folders list on the left panel, along with the other hard drives that already contain photos being managed by Lightroom. You can then drag-and-drop to move folders (and photos) to the new hard drive.

More Detail: Because Lightroom uses a catalog to manage your photos, rather than serving as a simple image browser, it is necessary to actually import photos into Lightroom in order to work with them. By extension, that also means you will only see hard drives on the Folders list on the left panel in the Library module if that drive contains photos that are already being managed in your Lightroom catalog.

Fortunately, it is easy to make a new hard drive available within Lightroom, such as for moving photos from one drive to another. All you need to do is add a new folder on the new hard drive. So, you can click on the plus symbol (+) to the right of the Folders heading on the left panel in the Library module, and choose “Add Folder” from the popup menu. Navigate to the new hard drive, and click the “New Folder” button to create a new folder. Give that folder a name (such as “Photos”), and click the Choose button to select this folder as the one you want to add in Lightroom.

At that point the new folder will appear under a heading with the volume label or drive letter for the new drive. You can then drag-and-drop folders from a different hard drive to the new folder on the new drive. When prompted by Lightroom after dragging a folder, click the Move button to confirm you want to actually move the folder (and photos) from one hard drive to another. The folder (and photos within) will then be moved to the new location, both in terms of the reference in your Lightroom catalog and the actual file storage on your hard drives.

Clearing Storage Space


Today’s Question: My computer is nearly full, mostly of photos. Is there an “easy” way in Lightroom [Classic] to blanket eliminate shots without using even more space in the process, when I have not marked the photos as special in some way?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you can filter the photos you want to delete, such as selecting all photos that don’t have a star rating at all, you can certainly delete the files in a batch process. Another option would be to assign a “Reject” flag to the photos you’d like to remove, and the use a quick command to delete all rejected photos.

More Detail: Lightroom provides a wide variety of options for filtering your photos, so if you want to delete a number of outtakes even though they weren’t marked as such, you still may be able to effectively filter the photos. For example, on the Library Filter Bar (View > Show Filter Bar from the menu) you can set a filter based on a variety of metadata criteria. For example, I mark photos with a red color label upon import, and remove that label once I’ve reviewed the photos. Therefore, if I set a filter for no red color label (meaning the photo has been reviewed already) and a star rating of zero stars (meaning I didn’t mark it as a “keeper”), then the photos are outtakes and could potentially be deleted.

After applying such a filter you could select all of the images by choosing Edit > Select All from the menu. You can then delete the selected photos by choosing Photo > Remove Photos from the menu. In the confirmation dialog that appears, just be sure to choose the “Remove from Disk” option so that the files will actually be removed from your hard drive, as well as being removed from your Lightroom catalog. Obviously you’ll want to be very careful with this approach overall, making sure you have filtered the images appropriately, and that you actually want to delete all of the photos based on the filter you applied.

Another option would be to review your photos and specifically add metadata to identify those that can be deleted. One option is to assign a Reject flag to such images, which you can do by pressing the letter “X” on the keyboard. You can even select multiple photos in the Grid view (but not in the Loupe view!) and then press “X” to add a Reject flag to all of the selected photos.

After marking photos with the Reject flag, you could choose the All Photographs collection from the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module. Then go to the menu and choose Photo > Delete Rejected Photos. Once again you will want to use the “Delete from Disk” option to actually remove the photos from your hard drive rather than only removing them from your Lightroom catalog.

Keep in mind, of course, that it is also possible to move photos to a larger hard drive, such as an external drive you might use only for storing photos, with significant storage capacity. Just be sure that if you’re going to move photos (or folders) that are being managed by Lightroom that you actually do the work of moving the images within Lightroom.