Lightroom Tips

Video – Synchronizing Your Folders

If you’ve imported photos into Lightroom’s folders then everything is good right? But what happens when you want to import more photos into the same folder down the road. For example, this past week I created a folder called “Great Smokies Day 1” and imported the photos from day 1 of my workshop into Lightroom. Then we went out and shot more photos later that day. It wasn’t until a couple of days later that I was able to import those photos. The cool thing is that I didn’t have to go through Lightroom’s whole import process again. There’s a feature that allows you to add files into Lightroom that have been added to a folder on your hard drive but haven’t actually been imported into Lightroom yet. So sit back and watch the video to see how.

Click here to watch the video. (23Mb)



  1. Alex 24 June, 2009 at 07:04 Reply

    Great demo!

    I have a simular situation that i’ll use for the first time in the next days, but it’s not exactly what’s called Folder Synchronisation as described in the video.

    I’ll use a laptop where during vacation i’ll will store all my shoots and doing a develop with LR2.3. This will create a RAW file + .xmp file on the laptop HD.
    Afterwards, back home, i’ll transfer those folders to my desktop where i’ll doing all the further develop processes. Once transfered, these folders will be deleted on the laptop.

    My question is: How to “import” those folders in the LR library on my desktop with the .xmp files included. This will save me a lot of processing time.
    Can this with the normal import function of LR and will it skip the rendering process?

    I perfectly understand Steve’s job with SyncToy but, like in the video, I understand that there already must be a foldername created inside LR before synchronisation can happen.
    In my case, there will be a new folder on the desktop not imported yet by LR and I doubt that LR will recognise the .xmp files already existing and will recommence the whole rendering process again.

    Any idea?

  2. Steve 11 September, 2008 at 12:14 Reply

    I use this feature all the time too, and wish there was a setting that I could turn on to just always keep folders in sync.

    I actually use this feature to synchronize my entire photo collection between my desktop and my laptop (almost 8000 photos). I use Microsoft’s SyncToy to compare the photo directories on my laptop and my desktop and it automatically copies the picture files and any xmp files across all directories, based on whichever one is newest. After SyncToy is done, I then go to lightroom, select the top level folder for my photos, and sync everything. It finds the updated xmp files and applies the settings that have changed and also finds the new pictures as well (if any were copied to that machine). You have to sync folders on both the desktop and laptop when doing it this way.

    Over a wireless connection this process would take forever, but connected via ethernet, it doesn’t take that long. It allows you to have your full collection, synchronized, on both machines.

  3. Ricardo 13 June, 2008 at 12:56 Reply

    @Jeff & Shama: I’m a windows user and I simply changed(renamed) the file extension from .m4v to .mp4 and was able to watch it using QuickTime Player.

  4. Freddi 5 May, 2008 at 04:55 Reply

    Great video!!! Do you or anyone else know what happened to the User defined sort order that used to be in Lightroom. I can’t find it in the beta 2 version. How do people change the order? I would be so happy if someone could answer this.

  5. charles 3 May, 2008 at 21:20 Reply

    great video, and good tip. I have this problem though. I have a jpg file that is no bigger the the raw picture, but lightroom keeps telling me that the picture is to big for import.

  6. Joshua 3 May, 2008 at 01:21 Reply

    Question: Why when you synchronise a folder – do the shots were already existing then show up in the library pane under previous import ‘Missing Files’?

    As an example – if you have 180 files in a folder – then save a file from this folder you have been working on in photoshop under a different name – you now have 181 files in the folder. Synchronise the folder and it will of course find the extra file – but it then shows up 180 missing files as above – even though they are not missing! Weird….

    Lightroom does this every time and I have no idea why or how to get rid of it. Very annoying. You can even see it briefly in Matts Video.

  7. Kieran 2 May, 2008 at 20:49 Reply

    Casey, just go into Develop and right click your presets and press show in finder. Thats where you presets are and you can copy them as you like

  8. Casey Figlewicz 2 May, 2008 at 17:08 Reply

    Can anyone help me? I am trying to transfer my lightroom presets to another computer and I don’t know where to find that folder on my mac, can anyone let me know where to look?

    Casey Figlewicz

  9. Jeff 2 May, 2008 at 14:24 Reply

    Well I’ll start this again… Neither IE7 or firefox recognize the m4v format and I assume itune will open it but so far it doesn’t like the secure format.. Can you just make it a mpg and be done with it?

  10. Brian 2 May, 2008 at 09:21 Reply

    Emmet, Matt turned off the import dialogue in the video instruction, but I believe if you left this option on, you would have the ability to set the backup options (but I haven’t tested/confirmed that).

  11. Emmet Whitehead 1 May, 2008 at 20:22 Reply


    When you import photos in this manner, do you lose the backup function or does the sync folders recognize that you also created a backup when you imported the initial photos and create a backup as well??


  12. Seim Effects 1 May, 2008 at 16:04 Reply

    This is a super cool feature. I’ve been using it awhile, but it’s good of you to bring it up because I think a lot of people miss this.

    It makes it really easy to keep catalogs fro projects like you showed here, personal images etc. I’m using separate catalogs now for things like session, misc projects, personal images etc. The sync feature helps keep it all orgainized.


  13. Luis Murillo 1 May, 2008 at 15:28 Reply

    I always use this feature. Although I’m not really organizing everything into separate folders I find this feature really useful. I, for example, just have 3 folders, and lightroom only sees one of them, the RAW folder. When I import my photos I save them in a folder called RAW and then when I tell lightroom to process them they are saved in a folder called Processed.
    I wish that Lightroom would do this synchornization automatically and for me not to have to go manually and do that. I understand that there are people who would hate such feature so Adobe should make it an option.


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