Lightroom Tips

LIGHTROOM TIP: Organizing Collections From Folders

Hey everyone. Sorry for being away lately. If you follow my personal blog (if you’re in to landscape photography I hope you do), I posted that I was going to be gone for a week filming a Landscape Photography at Mt. Rainier (outside of Seattle) class for KelbyOne. Well, I had no idea that I wouldn’t have any internet and cell service for most of the time. Anyway, I’m back in the office until Photoshop World and I wanted to get out a quick tip that I just learned this week…

Side Note: I posted a recap of my photos from that trip in case you want to see it. Here’s the link.

Okay on to the tip. And it’s one that I can almost definitely (like the way I just covered myself there), I’m nearly positive (yup, once again), that you don’t know. Collections are a very popular way of organizing your photos in Lightroom. But did you know that you can drag a folder from the Folders panel, in to the Collections panel and Lightroom will automatically make a Collection out of it?

We had Sharad Mangalick, the Lightroom Product Manager from Adobe, visit earlier this week. In one of our meetings he did this tip, and here’s a quick recap of the conversation:

Me: “Dude! What’d you just do?!!!”.
Him: “I just dragged the Folder in to the Collections panel to make a Collection”
Me: “Really?!!!”
Him: “Yeah, you didn’t know that?”
Me: “Ummm, uhhhh, ummm Yeah, of course I did. I was just surprised you did too” 🙂


Anyway, if you’re wondering why this works well it’s because a lot of people have a workflow where they create a collection of everything from the shoot. Then, they proceed to Reject the bad photos and get rid of them. When they’re done, what’s left is the good stuff. It’s a slightly different way of working, where you make the collection first, and then reject. Rather than, rejecting, getting your favorites, and then making a collection. But I know it’s part of many people’s workflows, and with this tip, it’s that much easier.

Anyway, there’s a little tip for ya’. Enjoy and I hope you have a great weekend!



  1. Stu Silberman 15 November, 2018 at 16:51 Reply

    Lightroom newbie. Bought Scott’s book. Saw the “right click on the folder and choose create collection set” tip to retain the folder structure with collections inside a collection set. Breathed a sigh of relief that I wouldn’t have to do all that work myself. Launched Lightroom 2015.14 release. Right clicked a folder. No “create collection set” popped up in the context-sensitive menu. Selected the folder and went to the Library menu. No “create collection set” menu item. Searched, and found this blog, with the same suggestion. Tried again (in vain). So, is it possible to create a collection set with collections in in that mimic the original folder structure in my version of Lightroom Classic? Is so how?

  2. Alex Karvounis 1 March, 2018 at 19:25 Reply

    Can anyone answer this? Are my LR folder structures going to be mimicked exactly in collections? When I drag a folder from the folders section to collections (as stated), I see all of the photos now in the collections window, but not the folder structure within it (like I see clearly in the folders window). Make sense?

    does it lose the structure when in collections?

    • Rob Sylvan 2 March, 2018 at 09:11 Reply

      There is new functionality in Classic that allows you to re-create the folder structure in the Collections panel. Right-click the parent folder in the Folders panel, and choose Create Collection set “[foldername]”. If you just drag and drop a folder, you just get a new collection containing the photos in the folder, but not the folder structure.

  3. Mike 31 August, 2014 at 15:07 Reply

    Love your blog and website. Question about using collections. If you use a collection to do the editing for you photos to get to the “good” ones, how do you delete the rejected photos from your hard drive? deleting the rejects from the collection, just removes them form the catalog.

  4. Kees 26 August, 2014 at 02:49 Reply

    works nicely.
    Would even be nicer if it would work with solo mode.
    With many folders to “cross” before arriving at the collections part things may get “lost”

  5. Les Howard 15 August, 2014 at 16:11 Reply

    Hey Matt. I just saw Janine’s comment and checked. The last new post notification I know I received because it’s still in my inbox was from February 12 (the Death Valley racetrack post). I was traveling for a couple of months and didn’t notice they were missing. I’ll try checking the two boxes below to see if that helps.

  6. Janine Smith 15 August, 2014 at 11:57 Reply

    Hey, Matt–

    The Subscribe button for the newsletter on your other blog doesn’t work. Plus, I thought I was already subscribed, but haven’t gotten anything in a while.



  7. Greig 15 August, 2014 at 11:17 Reply

    I just had that same reaction reading this! Now if they would only allow me to copy and paste collections I would be a happy man!

    • Alfredo Perez 5 April, 2015 at 10:50 Reply

      Matt first congratulations, I am a new with LR and luckily i have found your videos and tutorials. In the past I used camera Raw (still do) and now migrating to LR . An interesting aspect that I cannot find on any guidelines/tutorial/comments is the counter effect of using collections in LR organization strategies. Here is my point and I would greatly appreciate any thoughts. Even though LR Collection is a great virtualization tool, if you start using it extensively you are locked with LR and in a future if you want to move to another product (you never know what the future may bring in the tech world), then you are completely locked with LR, as oppose as mimicking those structures in Folders and Subfolders. The virtualization is great but again it is suprisingly I have not found any indication/disadvantage in this regard. I think it is always easier to set your single point of failure and portability within your file structure. Anyway my LR knowledge is still limited so I am not sure if there is an option or comments that can give me some light due to my detailed organization and backup approach. Cheers and please continue to enhance this site…I have learn so much.

      • Jim 29 December, 2016 at 13:22 Reply

        This is a year and a half after the post, but I thought I would add 2 cents for others that find this. I finally bit the bullet and have started the massive shift of 80,000 photos from Apple Aperture to Lightroom. I have treated LR Folders as the equivalent of Aperture Projects. And Collections/Smart Collections as the equivalent of Aperture Albums.

        Every “project” or “event” is imported from my DSLR into a Folder in Lightroom named by Date-EventName, for example “2016-1225 Xmas Trip to Yosemite”. Then I will add best shots to my Collections of “Best of Yosemite” and “Best Outdoor Shots”.

        One of the comments above was from Alfredo who was fearful of using Collections and becoming locked into Lightroom. It does happen! Look at Apple Aperture!!! Jeez Loueeze! But, easy to recover and Collections is too convenient and powerful to ignore.

        Migrating from Aperture (and this would work if I have to migrate to another platform from LR), I went to each of my Albums (LR Collections), selected all images and added a Keyword with the name of the Album. e.g. Best-Outdoor, Best-of-Lovely-Wife. Then when the images are migrated, it is easy to recreate the albums (collections) by selecting the album name keyword and dragging them into a same-named collection.

        Use Collections!!!!

        Jim in Boudler

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