Moving Photos to an External Drive


Today’s Question: How hard/easy would it be to move my photos from my laptop hard drive to a larger external hard drive using Lightroom Classic?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It is very easy to move photos from an internal drive to an external drive, as long as you perform that work within Lightroom Classic rather than using other software or your computer’s operating system.

More Detail: Moving photos (or folders containing photos) is quite easy within Lightroom Classic. When it comes to migrating to a new hard drive, you will need to create a new folder on the destination drive from within Lightroom, so that the drive itself is available in Lightroom.

With the new hard drive connected you will first want to create a “master” folder on that drive to be used for photo storage. To get started, click on the “plus” (+) button to the right of the Folders heading on the left panel in the Library module, and choose “Add Folder” (not “Add Subfolder”) from the popup menu.

In the dialog that appears, navigate to the hard drive that you want to move photos to (the external hard drive in this example). Then click the New Folder button at the bottom-left of the dialog. Type a name (such as “Photos”) for the new folder, and click the Create button. Then click the Choose button. The new folder will be created on the hard drive you selected, and that folder will be visible under a heading for the hard drive in the Folders list of the left panel.

The folder you just created can then be used as a destination folder for moving photos from the internal hard drive to the external hard drive. You could, for example, select all folders on the external hard drive by clicking on the first folder on the list and then holding the Shift key and clicking on the last folder. You can then drag-and-drop the selected folders to the new folder you created on the destination hard drive. Note that you will need to confirm that you want to actually move the folders and photos on the hard drive in a dialog that will be presented by Lightroom.

I recommend, however, that you move folders in relatively small batches. This is because I have found that sometimes things go wrong when moving a large number of folders, which can create some confusion within Lightroom. So I generally select small groups of folders at a time, and drag and drop them to the desired destination folder. I also recommend, by the way, that you flatten any folders that include subfolders, helping to streamline the process of selecting and moving multiple folders at a time.

You can see the process of migrating to a new hard drive in detail in Chapter 7, Lesson 3, of my “Cleaning Up Your Mess in Lightroom” video course. For a 25% discount on this course, use this link to get started (and to learn more about the course):