Today’s Question: I keep my images on a separate external hard drive, not on the internal hard drive on my computer. Sometimes I want some of my images available on my computer’s hard drive, so I can for example use an image as my desktop wallpaper. How do I best copy photos from Lightroom [Classic] to a different location on my internal hard drive?
Tim’s Quick Answer: The best way to get photos from your primary storage on an external hard drive to a particular folder on an internal hard drive is to use the Export feature in Lightroom Classic to make a copy of the photo in the desired destination folder.
More Detail: The Export feature in Lightroom Classic enables you to copy photos from the source storage location to another location, with the option to copy the photo as a different file format, along with a variety of other options such as renaming the photo.
In this particular example, you might export a copy of the source photo as a JPEG image, resized to pixel dimensions appropriate to your computer’s monitor display resolution, placing the exported image into a folder in the Pictures folder on your internal hard drive. This, of course, is only one example of how you might take advantage of the Export feature.
After selecting one or more photos you want to export, you can click the Export button at the bottom of the left panel in the Library module to bring up the Export dialog. In the Export dialog you can specify a destination folder, configure settings for renaming the photos, choose the file format and options to use, among other settings.
After configuring the settings for the photos you want to export, you can click the Export button in the Export dialog to create the copies of the selected photos.
Note that there is an “Add to This Catalog” checkbox in the Export dialog, which enables you to create a copy of the selected photos based on the settings you’ve established, and also add the additional copies you’re creating to the Lightroom catalog you’re currently working with. In general I recommend keeping this checkbox turned off.
Generally speaking I find that photographers use the Export command in Lightroom Classic to create additional derivative copies of their photos for a purpose beyond Lightroom. As a result, I recommend avoiding the confusion of having those additional copies of your source photos included in your Lightroom catalog. Instead, I recommend using the exported copies of your photos as appropriate to your needs. When you want to work with the image in Lightroom, return to the original source image (rather than a derivative copy), and proceed from there.