Renaming Derivative Images


Today’s Question: You mentioned editing in Lightroom and then Photoshop, saving the resulting image back into Lightroom. What method do you use for naming the files that are saved? I would love to be able use a system with a numbering sequence for all of the edited versions from each source photo. I would be very interested to know what method you use.

Tim’s Quick Answer: I simply have the word “Edit” appended to the existing filename. Lightroom Classic will then automatically add a sequence number if I create more than one derivative from the same source photo. This also overcomes what I consider to be the very odd behavior in Lightroom, where the sequence number in this context is not calculated on a per-image basis.

More Detail: When you send a photo from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop, a new file is created as part of that process. You can specify a structure to use for the naming of these derivative images on the External Editing tab of the Preferences dialog in Lightroom Classic. However, if you use a sequence number as part of this process, that number will increment based on a tally of the number of times you send images to Photoshop, not how many derivative images you have created from a single source photo.

My approach is to simply add the word “Edit” to the end of the existing filename when creating derivative images via Photoshop. So, for example, if I send a raw capture called “IMG_1234.cr2” to Photoshop, the resulting derivative image would be called “IMG_1234-Edit.TIFF”.

If I send the original raw capture to Photoshop again, Lightroom will recognize that it can’t simply add “-Edit” to the base filename, because that filename already exists for the first derivative I created. In that case, Lightroom will automatically add “-2” to the end of the filename, so that the resulting filename is “IMG_1234-Edit-2.TIFF”. The following derivative would be “IMG_1234-Edit-2.TIFF”, and so on.

In this way, you would have a sequence number on a per-image basis, with the only exception being that your first derivative would not contain a “-1” at the end of the filename. Of course, you could add that “-1” very easily by renaming the first derivative in the File Name field in the Metadata section of the right panel in the Library module.

To configure this approach, you can simply modify the file renaming setup in the Preferences dialog. Start by choosing Lightroom Classic > Preferences on Macintosh, or Edit > Preferences on Windows. Then go to the External Editing tab in the Preferences dialog. At the bottom of the dialog, select “Filename” from the Template popup. Then click the Template popup again and choose “Edit”.

In the Filename Template Editor dialog, click in the large textbox that shows the current filename structure. Add “-Edit” (or other text) after the “Filename” token. Click Done, and then close the Filename Template Editor dialog. This will configure the filename structure for all derivative images created via Photoshop from that point forward.