Lightroom Videos

Video – Folders and Hard Drives in LR2

Greetings from chilly (but not really cold) Bar Harbor, Maine. Hey, I’m a Florida guy, what can I say – anything below 70º F is cold 🙂 Anyway, this week I created a video about a feature in Lightroom 2 that has changed the way I store my photos in Lightroom. In fact, I’m teaching a workshop in Bar Harbor this week and some one came up to me on the first night and commented on how much better Lightroom 2 handles the distinction and management between folders and hard drives (and this was after I had already created this video). So if you’re storing photos on your computer’s hard drive and (or are thinking about) storing photos on external hard drives then make sure you check this video out.

Click here to watch the video. (16MB)



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  3. John 16 February, 2010 at 04:16 Reply


    I am using your dual external hard drive approach. I have been wondering if you use drive encryption to protect the data on your external drives. If so, do you just use sparse bundles or do you use a third party app?


  4. Dennis 13 September, 2009 at 14:29 Reply

    I’ve had a problem similar to Jack (#28, 10/28/08), namely, a single external drive (on which I’m storing the current catalog’s images) appears twice in the folders panel. I’m not sure when it started happening, but, unlike Jack, it doesn’t seemed to be tied just to the use of external (CS4) editing. I have tried synchronizing the top-level folder containing all the image files, but it doesn’t seem to have synchronized all the xml data (ratings, color flags, edits, IPTC data, etc.) In some cases, the most current/complete data for an image shows in one “folder”, at other times, the other folder. I don’t want to lose the considerable work I’ve done on the files (about 8,000 in total), so I have been proceeding very carefully. I’m planning next to export one of the folders as a catalog and then removing that “folder” from the catalog and re-importing in into the other. Not sure yet just how I am going to do that. Reloading a backed-up version of the catalog doesn’t look feasible at this point, since I have backed up multiple times since the double folder problem appeared.

    Any thoughts, ideas, recommendations.

  5. Michael 16 March, 2009 at 15:37 Reply

    Matt, Want to know if I’m using a notebook and a desktop tower when I make adjustments on my tower will the history and the development adjustments be available when I open the same file later on the notebook. If so, how? (It gets a little confusing you know.) If you have addressed this issue before, could you direct me to the link and if you haven’t, could you possibly address it in a new tip? How about multiple externals (for redundancy & back-up purposes) ?
    Thanks, Michel

  6. Peter Sjöström 25 February, 2009 at 09:48 Reply


    Thanks for putting together these great tutorials!

    I have a workflow question:
    I download all my images from the camera to my local HD on my laptop through LR2. I then periodically MOVE the parentfolder ( e.g. 2009/date/date etc) to my external HD to have the folderstructure of my original RAW files intact and backed up.

    Now, I wish to have all my photos 8 (more than 7000 of them) converted into low res JPEGs on my local HD on my laptop so I can bring it with me and still have acess to all my photos albeit in lesser quality.

    To recap….first move all my originals onto external HD and then also being able to have all photos (but in lowres JPEG) with the same folder structure om my local HD on my laptop. How do I do this in the smartest way so I dont get a lot of problems.

    Thanks for answering this question.

    Peter Sjostrom, Sweden

  7. D Hanley 6 February, 2009 at 18:19 Reply

    I download originals (NEF) onto portable hard drive. Then I would like to import into LR 2 as dng. Wouldn’t that create a new set of files on my computer’s hard drive? I have Scott’s book that mentions importing into LR as dng. and keep ending up with multiple copies of images. Gets too confusing.

  8. Oliver 3 December, 2008 at 10:01 Reply

    Hi Mat,

    What External Portable Drive will you recommend or personally use? I have a Desktop PC and a G4 powerbook so I want to use something that will work on both and can take with me on the go.. I was looking into the FREEAGENT GO 500GB.

    let me know your thoughts..


  9. Jack 26 October, 2008 at 15:02 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Great tutorial! I was wondering if you could help me answer this question: I have one drive with all my photo’s – backup’s of all originals are stored on a NAS.

    This drive with all my photos shows up twice(!) – so I have two volume browsers pointing to the same drive. The second showed up after I (from Lightroom 2) edited a photo in PS CS3: the second Volume Browser shows only photo’s that have been edited in Photoshop.

    Until today that is… Today I upgraded to CS4, edited a photo, same way I have been doing, and was surprised to see that the edited photo now is listed under the first Volume Browser, and in fact stacked with the original – which I BTW prefer.

    Now to my question: why is LR behaving differently when editing photos with CS3 vs CS4? And how can this behavior be changed? I have not been able to find a setting yet, where edited photo’s are stored, and whether or not they need to be stacked etc. And how can I move the CS3 edited photo’s so they are stacked with their originals as well?

    Thanks again for another great tutorial, and for your feedback.


    PS: please reply to my email address

  10. Geoff 23 October, 2008 at 07:02 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    The video’s great, but it doesn’t match with what happens on my LR2.

    Your system is neat, eg, your main HD simply shows ‘desktop’ then your folders. Mine show a folder, then ‘users’, then ‘geoff wilson’, then ‘desktop’, then all my folders, pics etc – this didn’t happen in LR1 – how can I sort this out.

    The other problem is that my external HD appear down the bottom of the Folders panel under ‘Volumes’, not neatly as yours at the top under their specific name with the little green.

    Everything is there, all my photos, and I can find them, but it is a bit of a mess. Any help is appreciated


  11. Jason 21 October, 2008 at 00:47 Reply

    Moving multiple folders – HELP!

    When I first upload from my camera I store the RAW files locally on my laptop. After initial edits (so say, after a couple weeks) I then move them off to the external drive.

    How do I move multiple folders at once?

    If I move within Lightroom I can only move one folder at a time, if I do it in Explorer (yeah, sorry, windoze) then I have to go back to Lightroom and point it back at each individual folder one at a time.

    Why can’t I grab a chunk of folders and move them all at once?

  12. Kathleen D 20 October, 2008 at 20:32 Reply

    Thanks for the video. I have begun to work mainly off of external hard drives also, as my laptop is getting overloaded and is slowing down. But when I made changes in the develop module and synced a whole group of photos, it seemed to take a longer time to do this. I assumed it was because I was having to open up photos on a external drive and moving them across a usb or fireware and it would take longer than if they are on my hard drive. Does the develop module slow down using the external hard drive vs. on your hard drive because of the cables? Obviously this doesn’t seem to be a problem for you.

  13. Carolyn Fahm 20 October, 2008 at 10:09 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Welcome to the chilly North. It came as a bit of a shock to the system for me as well, coming from mild Northern California. But it can be very beautiful here so I hope you come back with more of your gorgeous landscapes.

    I have just been blown away with Enthuse for Lightroom 2.0. I had tried Photomatix but never came to grips with all the options. With Enthuse the image is blended in the plugin, returned to Lightroom automatically, and then all the tweaks are done in Lightroom, which makes more sense to me.

    My main Lightroom problem is that I am one of the users for whom the adjustment brush doesn’t work – I get delayed implementation and jerky application of whatever I am painting on. I know you and Scott addressed this before in your video but have you heard anything about a resolution? I am already running the beta 2.1. My operating system is Vista, if that is any help.

    Thanks again for being so enthusiastic about Lightroom. I had delayed implementing it until Lightroom 2 came out and now I wonder why I waited so long. The database elements alone are well worth the price – now I can instantly find my photos!

  14. Dan 19 October, 2008 at 16:09 Reply

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for the the video, it’s very useful!
    What I didn’t understand is how you get to this situation where all the folders are on the external drive and have previews ?
    What’s the workflow like after the shoot? import the pictures to Lightroom (on the computer) and then move them to the drive ?
    It would work perfectly for me, just the way you showed it.



  15. John 19 October, 2008 at 07:05 Reply

    I have a question regarding minimizing LR2.1 to the task bar. I have noticed the shrink and close buttons are gone. I know I can control Q and quite. What happened to the upper right buttons?
    Windows XP.

  16. fiddlergene 18 October, 2008 at 10:15 Reply

    This has nothing to do with the blog subject. I love LR2. I would love it even more if in the new adjustment brushes there was a way, when making color adjustments with the color picker, to select a color in the image and have the color palette match it.

  17. Sean 18 October, 2008 at 09:43 Reply

    Will this process slow down Lightroom in any way?

    I have three external hard drives with over four years of photos (weddings, industrial, landscapes, and family). Should I import / mapped all three drives to Lightroom? Will that many images slow down the program? Speed is more important to me than easy access (I do have 6 gb of ram in a Mac G5).

    BTW, LR2.0 seems slower than 1.4 especially when using the new brush tool (raw files from Canon 5D). I hope Adobe patches that in the next update.

  18. Ian M Butterfield 17 October, 2008 at 20:15 Reply

    FYI – My comment was finally accepted when I removed the letters h,t,t,p,:, and from in front of “” in my signature. The same letters were inserted automatically infront of my web address in the same signature. Very strange bug in the feedback form – shame it didn’t even report and error.


  19. Ian M Butterfield 17 October, 2008 at 20:11 Reply

    *** Fourth try to post this ***
    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for all your tutorials. I found this tutorial particularly interesting but found it didn’t go far enough to deal the the situation that I’m facing. I wonder if you could make some suggestions on dealling with external drives which are actually DVD devices.

    Here’s the problem. I am using LR2. All my images start off in subfoloders of top-level folder. Eg E:PhotosShoot1, E:PhotosShoot2 etc etc. Once I’ve processed the photos in lightroom I then archive the folders to DVD. So I now have DVDs (100s of them) with the following folder structure Z:Shoot1, Z:Shoot2, etc. and similar to what you did in the tutorial I then delete the corresponding folders from my hard-drive.

    Here’s the problem. In lightroom the folders appear under E:Photos as missing folders (I now have over 330 of these missing folders). If I put the archive DVD in the drive I am able to tell light room that the folder is on the DVD drive (ie z:) but this is a very slow process. It take on average about 45seconds to relocate each folder. 330 folders x 45sec is over FOUR HOURS of continious mouse clicking just to tell lightroom where the files are! Is there ANY way to relocate multiple missing folders to the the DVD instead of having to do them one at a time?

    The second problem is when the folders have all been relocated to the DVD drive they all appear under a single volume browser ie the letter of the DVD drive (Z: in my case). There is no indication as to which DVD disk the files are located on. Which is really the same problem you were describing with harddrives in LR1 where you said there is no easy way of knowing which disk to attach. In my case it is knowing which DVD disk to insert. I have litterally hundreds of them. Is there any way to get a separate volume browser for each DVD rather than a single one which contains all the folders one ALL dvds.

    Any suggestions on how to deal with lots of off-line storage within LR2 would be really appreciated.

    Ian M Butterfield (one of your UK viewers!) (Daily photo blog)

  20. Ian M Butterfield 17 October, 2008 at 20:08 Reply

    Tried twice to leave a comment… well question really. But the feedback form just doesn’t want to accept it. No error message displayed. Screen refreshes on pressing “Submit Comment” but the comment is not displayed. 🙁


  21. Allister Jenks 17 October, 2008 at 16:28 Reply

    Great video Matt and topical for me too with my newly acquired Firewire drive.

    I have a related question – how to convert already-processed native RAW files to DNG files, keeping all the keywording and processing settings?

  22. Janine Smith 16 October, 2008 at 13:34 Reply

    I save one more step by using LR to import the photos from my camera memory card to my main external hard drive AND my backup external, while renaming files and applying keywords–all at once. And they’re imported to LR as well. A tip Scott showed me is to import into one folder (for me it’s 2008, for you it could be Photos), and into a subfolder you create and name in the import dialog box. Now if I could just do that on the backup drive, too….


  23. Seim Effects 16 October, 2008 at 13:25 Reply

    Nice. It’s good to see their cleaning up LR’s ability to manage the files. Personally am a keep all the photo’s on one bug drive kinda guy. I like how easy it makes managing and archiving. For client jobs I actually just have a dedicated catalog for each session. Still the way LR2 handles them is cool.

    What I’d really like to see is the ability to take the catalog and do full edits on the preview in the Develop module, and then have them synced up when we connect the drive again. The mobility would be great.


  24. Ken 16 October, 2008 at 12:29 Reply

    Funny, I just got done doing all this stuff over the past 2 days and now you post a video 🙂

    Basically i did what you did. Now i am renaming folders.

    If you right click the folder and rename, it actually renames the folder on the hard drive. So you don’t have to do it in explorer, then find the missing folder. Such a time saver.

  25. Bruce Mason 16 October, 2008 at 12:29 Reply

    Thanks Matt. As always very useful. I’d also like to second a request for more on catalogs and DAM. As a wedding photographer I am considering how to use catalogs most effectively.


  26. jk driggs 16 October, 2008 at 12:21 Reply

    Hey Matt

    Thanks for all you do! I know that you’ve talked about it before but, I was wondering if you might address LR catalogs and your thoughts about using multiple catalogs for DAM (image management). Also, is LR2 any different than LR1 for this?


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