Folder Mismatch with Merged Catalog


Today’s Question: When traveling I download daily to a laptop and back up to a solid state external hard drive. At the end of the trip I export everything as a catalog. Back home I copy the catalog files to the home computer hard drive. However, when I “import from another catalog” in Lightroom the resulting folder structure doesn’t match my original folder structure used during the trip. This results in two or three sub-folders which I do not need or want. Is there a way to avoid the sub-folders in the first place?

Tim’s Quick Answer: My recommendation is to use the option to add photos from their current location when using the “Import from Another Catalog” feature in Lightroom Classic. You can then move the folder containing your photos to the master storage location as a separate step. In this case I suspect you are using the Copy option, and defining a lower-level folder as the destination than you need.

More Detail: When you return from a trip where you have used a separate catalog for downloading and managing photos along the way, you’ll want to merge that catalog with your master catalog at home. This typically involves first using the “Export as Catalog” command to export a copy of your traveling catalog as well as copies of all photo the photos in the catalog to an external hard drive. This enables the exported catalog and photos to be available on the computer where your master catalog resides.

You can then connect the external hard drive to the computer where your master catalog resides, and then use the “Import from Another Catalog” command. I recommend keeping this process simple by making use of the option to add the photos at their current location, rather than copying them to a different location.

Then, after the process has completed, the photos imported from your traveling catalog will still be on the external hard drive. You can then drag the folder containing the images on that external drive to the location you use for storing all of your photos, and the folder and all of its contents will be moved. This also ensures that Lightroom knows where the folder has moved to, so none of your photos will go missing in the process.

After completing these tasks, you can retain the traveling catalog and photos as a backup until you’ve had a chance to update your backup.

Note that this overall process is covered in my “Real-World Organizational Workflow” course, which you can find in the GreyLearning library here: