Moving Cataloged Photos


Today’s Question: What is the best way to move files that are located in Lightroom [Classic]? Copy and paste the files outside of Lightroom and then reconnect, or move the files within Lightroom? I have about 30,000 images that need to be moved. I want to be careful, but also this could be very time consuming moving the files one at a time and then reconnecting them.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You should absolutely move the photos (and folders if applicable) within Lightroom Classic, not through your operating system. This is actually one of the most important “rules” to make sure you don’t create a mess within your Lightroom Classic catalog.

More Detail: It is critically important that once you start using Lightroom Classic to manage your photos, all tasks related to the photos you have imported into your catalog be performed within Lightroom Classic. Performing work with your images outside of Lightroom Classic is perhaps the fastest way to create a mess in Lightroom Classic.

If you want to move a photo within Lightroom Classic, you can simply drag-and-drop that photo to the desired destination folder. By default you will see a dialog asking for confirmation that you want to move the file on your hard drive, which is in large part serving as a reminder that when you move a photo within Lightroom Classic, it is actually being moved on your hard drive as well.

Similarly, you can drag-and-drop entire folders to move the folder and its contents from one storage location to another. Taking that a step further, you can also create new folders, even on a hard drive you aren’t yet using to store photos that are managed by Lightroom Classic. The option to create a new folder is on the popup menu associated with the plus symbol (+) to the right of the Folders heading on the left panel in the Library module.

While it is certainly possible to move photos using your operating system and then reconnect the photos (and folders) that appear missing as a result in Lightroom Classic, in my mind that approach is a recipe for disaster in your Lightroom catalog. Fortunately, you can easily perform that work within Lightroom Classic and avoid creating a mess in your catalog.

If you already have a bit of a mess in your Lightroom Classic catalog, note that I’ll be presenting a live online workshop during the month of August focused on “Cleaning Up Your Mess in Lightroom Classic”. You can learn more about this learning opportunity on the GreyLearning website here: