Merging Folders of Photos


Today’s Question: I have two file folders in my Lightroom Classic catalog that contain photos from the same event, and I want to put them all into one folder. How do I merge the folders or how do I move the photos from one folder to the other?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can easily merge folders of photos in Lightroom Classic by selecting all photos in one folder, and then dragging-and-dropping them to the destination folder. Once the source folder is empty, you can right-click on the folder and choose “Remove” from the popup menu.

More Detail: When it comes to using Lightroom Classic to manage your photos, one of the most important things is to make sure that all tasks are initiated within Lightroom, rather than out through your operating system or using other software.

When you have photos you want to move from one folder to another, the process is rather simple. You can select the photos you want to move, and then drag-and-drop them to the desired destination folder within the Folders list on the left panel in the Library module. In the confirmation dialog that appears, click the Move button, and the photos will be moved. That means the photos will move within the context of your Lightroom catalog, as well as on your hard drive.

If you move all of the photos from a given folder, obviously that folder will be empty. To remove the empty folder from Lightroom (and your hard drive), you can right-click on the folder in the Folders list on the left panel in the Library module, and choose Remove from the popup menu that appears.

Note that this process of merging folders, along with the process of splitting one folder into two or more folders, are topics covered in my “Cleaning Up Your Mess in Lightroom” course that you can find in the GreyLearning library by following this link:

Upgrading to 16-bit


Today’s Question: As a follow-up to your question about converting from JPEG to raw [in Friday’s Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter], wouldn’t applying that conversion help ensure smoother gradations of tone and color in the photo? I know you’ve mentioned that in the past as a benefit of a higher bit depth.

Tim’s Quick Answer: No. Converting an image from 8 bits per channel to 16 bits per channel will not have any significant impact on the degree of posterization that may occur if you apply strong adjustments to the image.

More Detail: One of the key advantages of working with high-bit data for a photo is the ability to ensure smooth gradations of tone and color even with strong adjustments to an image.

An 8-bit per channel image can have up to 256 shades per channel. A 16-bit per channel image can have 65,536 shades per channel. That’s a significant difference, especially when you consider a typical image is comprised of three channels (red, green, and blue).

As you apply adjustments to an image, such as enhancing contrast, the transition of tonal values among neighboring pixels will change. With strong adjustments, smooth gradations can be made less smooth, creating effects such as banding in what would otherwise be a smooth transition in the sky, for example.

Converting an 8-bit per channel image to the 16-bit per channel mode still means the image contains a maximum of 256 shades per channel. As you apply adjustments to the image, that number could increase as pixel values are possibly distributed differently in terms of the actual value. But that doesn’t provide any real benefit, especially when you consider a 16-bit per channel image would actually start off with so much more information compared to an 8-bit per channel image.

It is worth noting that most digital cameras don’t actually support 16-bit per channel capture. Rather, most camera models support either 12-bit or 14-bit capture. That still translates to 4,096 shades per channel for a 12-bit capture, or 16,384 shades per channel for a 14-bit capture, which again provides a significant potential advantage compared to an 8-bit capture.

The issue of bit depth is one of the reasons I recommend using raw capture rather than JPEG capture whenever possible. And, as noted above, converting a 8-bit capture to the 16-bit per channel mode won’t provide any real benefit compared to capturing at a high bit-depth in the first place.

Raw from JPEG


Today’s Question: I’ve been watching your recent Ask Tim Grey posts on shooting DNG on iPhones [and other smartphones], particularly where you point out that the special features cannot be used by Lightroom Mobile. Does Topaz’ JPEG to RAW app offer a way around this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No. The “JPEG to RAW AI” software from Topaz Labs doesn’t provide a true alternative to an original raw capture.

More Detail: I frankly find the marketing materials related to “JPEG to RAW AI” from Topaz Labs to be quite misleading. The core features of this software are noise reduction and compression artifact removal, which are features that can also be found in other software. The resulting image is then converted to a 16-bit per channel TIFF image. However, because the source of the image data would have been an 8-bit per channel JPEG image, you aren’t actually achieving a benefit from the higher bit depth.

In other words, “JPEG to RAW AI” is really just sophisticated image-cleanup software, which saves the resulting image as a TIFF (not a raw capture format) in order to avoid additional compression artifacts. The conversion to 16-bit per channel offers no real benefit, and causes the base file size to be twice as large as it otherwise would be.

While “JPEG to RAW AI” does a good job of reducing noise and compression artifacts in an image, it isn’t a tool I would recommend in general. As noted above, I also find the marketing of this product to be terribly misleading in terms of the actual benefits involved, and some of the information presented is factually inaccurate as well.

Saving “Memories” Videos


Today’s Question: Is there a way to save the videos that an iPad or iPhone creates from the “For You” albums in the Photos app so they can be viewed on a computer or elsewhere?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can save these “memories” videos by playing the video on your iPhone or iPad and then using the sharing option to save the slideshow as an actual video file.

More Detail: Under the “For You” tab in the Photos app on an iPhone or iPad you’ll find a Memories heading with a variety of automatically curated slideshows. These slideshows are created by clustering related photos based on the date of capture as well as the location where the photos were captured. The individual memories will be labeled with a location and/or date range.

You can tap on one of the memories to see the photos and that are included. You can also tap the ellipsis button (three dots at the top-right of the memory album) to access editing and sharing options. You can also tap the Play button associated with the memory album to play a slideshow complete with music.

While the slideshow is playing you can tap the screen to bring up a set of options, including a sharing icon at the bottom-left of the slideshow playback. After tapping this sharing button, you can choose the “Save Video” option to save the slideshow as a video in the Photos app. You’ll then find that video slideshow along with the other photos and videos you have captured.

The video can then be played back at any time, downloaded to your computer, sent to another device via AirDrop, or otherwise shared for viewing at anytime.

Opening a Relocated Catalog


Today’s Question: I’ve just set up my new computer. I have my Lightroom Classic catalog on an external hard drive. How do I get Lightroom to “see” the catalog?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can launch Lightroom Classic with the new catalog by navigating to the location on the hard drive where the catalog is located, and then double-clicking on the catalog file.

More Detail: You can open a specific catalog in Lightroom Classic by going to the File menu and choosing Open Catalog. However, it is often easier to locate the catalog directly through your operating system, and then launch Lightroom using the actual catalog file.

When you locate the folder where your Lightroom Classic catalog is stored you can simply double-click on the file with the “lrcat” filename extension. That is the actual catalog file, and double-clicking on the file will cause the catalog to be opened in Lightroom Classic.

When you have moved a catalog, especially if you have made a copy of the original catalog, Lightroom may be confused if you launch Lightroom directly and the most recently used catalog file can’t be found. In that case a dialog will appear, which provides an option to browse and locate the correct catalog file.

It is also worth noting that you can configure Lightroom Classic to always open the correct catalog. This can help avoid any confusion, especially if you have multiple catalogs (or multiple backup copies of a catalog). You’ll find the applicable options on the General tab of the Preferences dialog in Lightroom Classic.

By default, Lightroom Classic will open the most recently used catalog. However, you can also select a specific catalog that should always be opened when you launch Lightroom Classic, which can be helpful to avoid confusion when working with more than one catalog. To choose a catalog that should always be used, click the “When starting up use this catalog” popup on the General tab of the Preferences dialog. Choose the applicable catalog if it is on the list, or choose “Other” to locate a catalog that is not shown on the list.

Safe to Remove Older Applications?


Today’s Question: My iMac has recently warned me that the hard drive is running out of space. I’ve realized that in Applications I have older versions of Photoshop and Lightroom that go back to Photoshop CC 14 through the current version. Assuming I don’t delete the most recent copies of these applications, is there any reason why I shouldn’t just uninstall all of the old versions of these applications?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Provided the latest version of an application is working properly, including all plug-ins you want to be able to use with that version, there is generally no reason not to uninstall the older versions of those applications.

More Detail: In most cases there is no need to retain older copies of an application, as long as the latest version of the application is working properly. Each version of Photoshop, for example, can consume two or three gigabytes of hard drive space. That can obviously add up to considerable space when you have multiple versions of several applications installed on your computer.

It is a good idea to make sure any plug-ins you want to use are installed and working properly with the latest version of an application before you remove older versions. In addition, it is worth considering whether you might need to retain older versions of an application to maintain backward compatibility. That generally isn’t an issue for photographers using Photoshop or Lightroom, but if you receive files from others that might require an older version of an application, you would want to take that into account.

In general though, you can most certainly remove older versions of applications once the latest version has been confirmed to be functioning properly. I do recommend, by the way, using the uninstall application to remove older version, if an uninstaller is included with the application. An uninstaller is included with Photoshop and Lightroom, for example.

Panning or Cropping?


Today’s Question: Is a panorama feature [on smartphone cameras] simply a crop as it was in the old Kodak APS film cameras?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, the panorama photo feature available with most smartphones is not simply a cropping feature, but rather something of a digital scanning back feature.

More Detail: When you capture a photo using the panorama feature in a smartphone camera app, the capture process involves panning across the scene to create an image with a process similar to how a digital scanning back camera operates. You initiate the capture, pan across the scene, and then stop the capture when you’re finished. If you pan beyond the limits of the panorama feature (generally around 180-degrees), the capture will stop automatically.

The advantage of a panning approach to capturing a panoramic image is that you can avoid the distortion and perspective issues that can arise if you cropped a wide-angle view rather than panning with a longer effective focal length.

Of course, there are disadvantages involved with the panning approach to capturing a panoramic image. To begin with, you need to make sure that you pan smoothly and evenly across the scene. You can think of this as panning while keeping the horizon in the same position, as opposed to having the camera tilt upward or downward as you pan across the scene. If you don’t pan at a consistent angle, you may see distortion or visual artifacts in the photo.

In addition, a panning approach can be challenging when there is movement in the scene you are photographing. The smartphone will attempt to compensate for movement in the scene you are photographing, but in many cases the movement can result in visual artifacts in the panoramic photo.

Overall, smartphones do a great job creating high-quality panoramic images, provided you are careful to pan smoothly and at a consistent angle across the scene you are photographing.

Cloning to a New Drive


Today’s Question: How does one work directly from within Lightroom Classic to accomplish cloning from old external drive to a new one?

Tim’s Quick Answer: From within Lightroom Classic the only real option for cloning an external hard drive would be to use the “Export as Catalog” command to copy the catalog and photos to an external hard drive. Otherwise you would need to use third-party software to clone your hard drive to a new one.

More Detail: When you upgrade to a new (and presumably larger) external hard drive, there are several approaches you could take to transition to that new drive.

Within Lightroom Classic, as outlined in some recent answers in the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, you could move folders and the contents of those folders to the new hard drive. This, however, would involve moving rather than copying the photos.

If you wanted to copy the photos to the new hard drive rather than move them, you would need to take a different approach. For example, I use GoodSync software ( to backup my external hard drives, including the drives that contain my photos. You could use this or similar software to create a copy of the photos from your old drive to the new drive. You would then need to make sure that the new drive had the same drive letter (Windows) or volume label (Macintosh) as the original drive, so that Lightroom would know where to find the photos.

You could also use the Export as Catalog command to make a copy of the catalog and all photos on the new drive. To get started you would want to select the All Photographs collection from the Catalog section on the left panel in the Library module. Then choose Edit > Select All to select all photos. Choose File > Export as Catalog from the menu, and in the dialog that appears navigate to the new external hard drive. Make sure that the “Export negative files” checkbox is turned on, and click the Export Catalog button.

This process will take some time depending on how many photos you have in your catalog. But when the process is complete you would have a new copy of your catalog and all of your photos on the new external hard drive. You could then open the Lightroom catalog directly from the new external hard drive to continue working from that drive moving forward. Just be sure from that point forward that you don’t use the “old” drive other than keeping it as a backup.

Migrating to a New Computer


Today’s Question: With the passing of Windows 7 (and my computer was old), I bought a new computer, with Windows 10, and yesterday got Lightroom Classic installed and running. I went to attach my external drive where I was hoping to just tell Lightroom to look at the right folder. It did, but it asked me to import the photos. Is there a way to migrate Lightroom from the old computer to new? What should I do now?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To migrate to a new computer with Lightroom Classic you would need to transfer the catalog files from the old computer to the new computer. Without transferring the catalog, much of the information about your photos would be lost.

More Detail: Lightroom Classic makes use of a catalog to manage the information about your photos. While much of the information about your photos can be written to the metadata for the images themselves, that does not include all of the information about your photos. For example, information that can only be saved in the catalog (not the individual photos) includes collections, virtual copies, history in the Develop module, and pick/reject flags.

When migrating to a new computer, as part of the process you would need to transfer your catalog files to the new computer. For example, let’s assume your Lightroom catalog is stored in the Pictures folder on your computer, which is the default location. You could copy the folder that contains your Lightroom catalog and related files to an external hard drive, so you could then transfer that folder to the new computer.

After copying the catalog files to the new computer, you could double-click the catalog file (the file with the “lrcat” filename extension) to launch Lightroom Classic using the new catalog. As long as the photos were in the same location, including being stored on a hard drive with the same drive letter (Windows) or volume label (Macintosh), you would then be able to continue working with your photos in Lightroom Classic just as you did on your old computer.

If for some reason you have lost your Lightroom Classic catalog and don’t have a recent backup to fall back on, it would be possible to import all of your existing photos into a new catalog. However, doing so would cause you to lose information as noted above that can only be stored within the Lightroom catalog rather than in the metadata for the source image files.

Lightroom and Special Camera Features


Today’s Question: You have addressed some questions that suggest it is better to use the Lightroom app on a smartphone in order to take advantage of raw (DNG) capture. But then aren’t you missing out on some of the special features of the smartphone camera, such as panoramas or Portrait mode on the iPhone?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Correct. While using the Lightroom mobile camera feature to capture raw photos in the Adobe DNG file format, you would be missing out on some of the special features that are available on your smartphone through the use of the built-in camera app.

More Detail: When using a third-party app to replace the built-in camera app on a smartphone, you are missing out on the special features that are only supported through special software features with your smartphone.

For example, the built-in smartphone camera app for both iPhone and Android devices supports panoramic captures. The Lightroom mobile app camera feature so far does not support the capture of panoramic images (other than the option to capture at a somewhat panoramic 16:9 aspect ratio). Therefore, it would not be possible to capture an Adobe DNG raw capture while making use of the panorama feature that is available with the built-in camera app.

Note, however, that with the Lightroom camera feature you will have access to the multiple lenses, if your smartphone is so equipped. That means you could switch between the wide angle, normal, and telephoto lenses on an iPhone 11, for example. It is only the special software features of the smartphone that Lightroom isn’t able to access.

The same holds true for other special features such as the Portrait mode that is available on certain iPhone models. So, in the case of special features you’ll need to decide whether it is more important to make use of those special features and only have a JPEG or HEIC image, or if you want to capture higher quality DNG images but not have the special features available to you.