Moving Unmanaged Photos


Today’s Question: [When attempting to move photos to a new hard drive in Lightroom, as addressed in a prior edition of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter,] What if some of the photos in the folders being moved are not in the Lightroom catalog?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When you move photos from one hard drive to another in Lightroom, only the photos actually included in the Lightroom catalog will be moved to the new hard drive. Any photos on the drive that are not being managed in Lightroom will be left behind on the existing hard drive.

More Detail: It obviously makes sense that moving photos within Lightroom would only affect photos that are actually being managed in your Lightroom catalog. This also underscores one of the reasons I highly recommend that if you are using Lightroom to manage your photos, you should use Lightroom to manage all of your photos. In other words, from my perspective it is best not to have photos included in your photo storage structure without also having those photos included in your Lightroom catalog.

If there is any chance that some of the photos stored on the existing hard drive are not included in your Lightroom catalog, it is important to review the existing hard drive after moving photos to your new drive, in order to make sure there aren’t any photos or folders “left behind”.

If there are photos left behind on the existing hard drive after you’ve moved photos to a new hard drive within Lightroom, you’ll need to determine what to do with those photos. If the photos aren’t in your Lightroom catalog because they are “rejects”, you could certainly delete those remaining photos if that is your preference. You could also import those photos into Lightroom, moving them to the new storage location in the process by using the “Move” option in the Import dialog.

I should add that this overall topic is also (I think) a reminder of an issue that some photographers have been confused about. The Folders section of the left panel in the Library module in Lightroom is a reflection of your existing storage structure for your photos. Thus, moving photos within Lightroom will cause photos to be moved on your hard drive. And, as noted above, photos that aren’t in Lightroom won’t be affected by what you do within Lightroom.