Unwanted Sort Order


Today’s Question: Why is it that when I import my photos into Lightroom they don’t always follow the sequence that they were shot? For instance, I might shoot 7 frames of someone kicking a ball, however in the filmstrip at the bottom they aren’t in order?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The underlying reason here is that the sort order isn’t set to Capture Time. More than likely you’re seeing the “Added Order” sort order in this scenario, so switching to the Capture Time sort order will give you what you’re looking for.

More Detail: The “Previous Import” collection that is created when you import photos into Lightroom will default to the “Added Order” sort option every time you import. Because of the way files are written to and read from digital media, it is quite likely that this sort order will not match the capture time sort order for the photos.

There are a few things you can do here. First, of course, you can change the sort order using the “Sort” popup on the toolbar below the Grid view display for the images that have been imported. If the toolbar isn’t visible you can choose View > Show Toolbar from the menu.

You could also switch to the folder that you have imported the photos into, rather than browsing the “Previous Import” collection. Simply go to the Folders section of the left panel in the Library module and select the applicable folder. Assuming the sort order had been previously set to “Capture Time” for that folder, switching to the folder will result in the same capture time sort. But, of course, you can change the sort order for the folder if needed.

If you prefer not to see your images with the “Added Time” sort order, you can also disable the option to view the “Previous Import” collection after each import operation. To disable that feature, start by choosing Preferences from the Lightroom menu on the Macintosh version of Lightroom or from the Edit menu on the Windows version. Then go to the General tab, where you can turn off the “Select the ‘Current/Previous Import’ collection during import” checkbox before closing the Preferences dialog.

Disabling this option will cause you to remain in the folder that was selected prior to the import operation. In other words, if you are browsing the destination folder with the Capture Time sort order enabled, with this checkbox disabled in Preferences you will still be browsing the same folder with the capture time sort order after importing new photos.

I haven’t a clue why Adobe seems to think that the “Added Order” sort option is useful, or why it should be the default for the “Previous Import” collection. I would love to be able to set the default sort order under all conditions to “Capture Time”, but this isn’t currently an option in Lightroom.