Understanding a “Watched Folder”


Today’s Question: Would you explain the best way to utilize a “watched folder” in Lightroom Classic and where you find it?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I recommend using a watched folder for situations where you will be creating image files outside the context of a camera, such as when you’ll be scanning slides. Using this automatic import feature helps ensure you remember to import all of these types of photos.

More Detail: Lightroom Classic enables you to define an automatic import using a “watched folder”. What that means is that any image you save into the watched folder will be imported to your catalog automatically, based on specific settings you have established.

First you need to configure the automatic import. To get started, go to the menu bar and choose File > Auto Import > Auto Import Settings. Click the Choose button to the right of the “Watched Folder” label and navigate to the folder that you want to have Lightroom Classic monitor for automatic import. You can create a new folder as part of this step if needed. Click the Choose button to apply the change.

In the Destination section click the Choose button to the right of the “Move To” label and navigate to the storage location where you want the newly imported photos to be moved to. For example, this might be an external hard drive you use for storing all your photos. You can then specify a subfolder name for the folder you want to use as the destination for the newly imported images. I generally prefer to use a folder name here that will ensure the folder stands out at the top of the Folders list on the left panel in the Library module, such as by putting an underscore (_) at the beginning of the folder name.

You can then adjust the other import settings as desired, such as to add the photos to a collection, apply a Develop module preset, or apply a metadata preset. If you’re ready to have the automatic import enabled, turn on the “Enable Auto Import” checkbox at the top of the Auto Import Settings dialog and click the OK button.

You can turn automatic import on or off at any time by choosing File > Auto Import > Enable Auto Import from the menu. When this feature is turned on, if any photos are added to the watched folder they will be automatically imported based on the settings you established in the Auto Import Settings dialog, and moved to the folder location you specified.

So, for example, each time you save a scanned image into the watched folder, it will be automatically imported into your Lightroom Classic folder. And because these images are moved to a different storage location as part of that automatic import process, there won’t be any confusion about whether the images have actually been imported into your catalog, since the images are moved out of the watched folder as part of the automatic import.