Mystery of Duplicate Photos


Today’s Question: I have been trying to get more organized. This has involved moving some photos to different folders. I have sometimes been getting a notice that I can’t move a photo because it already exists in the folder I wish to move to. However, I check to be sure and find that the photo I want to move there is not in that folder already. Am I doing something wrong, or not finding a photo that is already there? Any thoughts?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Unless there is a very weird software bug at play here, I suspect the issue is that you have a different photo with the same filename in the destination folder. Renaming one of the two files to have a unique name should therefore enable you to move the photo to the destination folder.

More Detail: It is not possible to have two files with the exact same filename stored in the same folder. This isn’t an issue with Lightroom Classic exclusively, but with the operating system in general (for both Windows and Macintosh users).

If there is just one file that is causing this issue, you could simply rename the image using the File Name field at the top of the Metadata section on the right panel in the Library module. So, for example, you could add “-2” to the filename there, and then drag-and-drop the image to the intended destination folder.

If you have a larger batch of photos that have conflicting filenames, you could use the Rename Photo command instead. Simply select all of the photos you want to rename, and then choose Library > Rename Photo from the menu. In the dialog that appears you’ll see an indication of the number of photos you’re renaming in the title bar of the dialog.

Select a template from the File Naming popup. In this case, for example, you might consider using the “Filename – Sequence” option, which will add a sequence number to the existing filename. You could also choose Edit from the popup if you want to define your own custom template for renaming. If you’re using a template that includes a sequence number, be sure to update the Start Number value as you prefer. Then click OK to rename the selected photos. All of those photos can then be dragged to the intended destination folder.