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Unique File & Folder Names

Lesson 2 from: Organizing Your Images in Lightroom Classic

Ben Willmore

Unique File & Folder Names

Lesson 2 from: Organizing Your Images in Lightroom Classic

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

2. Unique File & Folder Names

Develop a system of unique and easy to implement file and folder names so that there is never a question about which file someone is referring to so that it can find a requested image in seconds. Also see how to transform a catalog full of camera-generated default file names into a much more useful setup. Templates will make it a breeze.

Lesson Info

Unique File & Folder Names

I always try to make sure that every image that I have in Lightroom has unique file name and that it's stored in a folder that also has a unique name and that's for many different reasons. One of which is if I ever received an email or other communication and someone refers to a picture, I always want to find the exact picture very quickly and if they send me the final name, I wanted to refer to only one possible image within my Lightroom catalog. The other reason is if I ever export images because I need to use them for a project and I choose one image from folder that I shot last week and another image that I shot years ago. Well if I use the default numbering system that my camera uses by chance, those two images might have the same file name because your camera resets the naming system every so often. And if I try to export to the same folder, those two images that have identical file names, it's either going to overwrite the file or I'm going to end up with a file name that's been...

changed and that's going to make it. So it's not going to refer back to only one image if I ever want to find that image again. So let's take a look at how you can rename your files while you're importing your images and how you can update names that you've already imported into your Lightroom catalog. Okay, so here I'm in light rooms import screen, All I did is hit the import button that's found in the lower left of the Lightroom interface and on the left side I choose my source and in this case I have an SD card inserted and here we have some photographs of some ducks that I would like to import. Now in here. If you look closely, you'll see the file names that my camera is signed and mine don't have the default names because in the menu system for my camera I can change the default file name. So I have my name appearing at the beginning and that's just in case I have more than one person shooting at the same event like myself and my wife. If I import images into the same folder from two different cameras, I want to be able to easily tell just by glancing at that. But that's not critical. Now here in the import screen on the right side, you're going to find an area called file renaming. And this section is only going to be here is if up here at the top you have the choice called copy turned on. If you have the choice called move, I'm sorry, not move ad, which is not available right now because Lightroom will not allow me to add these images from an SD card, add means do not move them. Whereas copy means it's going to copy them from the car to a different location. But when I have copy chosen over here, I'm going to be able to rename my files. So I'm going to use a template and right here's a template Pop up menu. If I click on it, we have many different template names here. But I want to create my own so I'll go to the bottom down here and choose edit or you can go at the top and just choose custom settings. Either way, it's going to send you to this screen. Now, I'm going to clear out what's currently in here by dragging over what's in this field near the top and hit the delete key. And I'm gonna build a brand new template. Now, it's a personal preference of how you like to name your files. But here's what I use. First I come down here and I like to use a four digit year. So I'll choose this option. And when I let go of the menu it automatically puts it up here at the top. Then I like to put in a little underscore so I'm gonna hold down shift and hit my dash key to put that in and then I want to put in a two digit month, which would be this choice right here. Then I'll do that underscore once again And then I'm gonna come in and put in a two digit day. And if I end up starting my file name with the date, then if I sort by file name, it will be by date and if I visit a location more than once, different days, this will easily differentiate those. Then I'm gonna hit the space bar and the next thing I want to do is come down here to the bottom you see this area called custom and there we have both shoot name in custom text. And I'm going to use the choice called custom text. You can use either one. And if you look on the right side of my screen over here where it says file renaming, you'll find an area for custom text and an area for shoot name. And depending on which of those two choices is used within your template. One of those two will be available. I personally am going to be using custom text and that's because later on when we attempt to rename our files after importing shoot name will not be available to type in and only custom text would be available and that's why I'm going to use it. So I'm going to hit insert. Then the next thing I want to add to my file name is I'll put a dash and then I want to have a number and there are all sorts of things I could put in there. But what I'm gonna do is up here at the top there's a choice called file name number suffix and what that means is it's going to use the original numbering that my camera had assigned to these images and that's what it's going to add to the end of my file name. The reason why I choose that is because I might have a notebook with me when I'm out shooting and I might look on the back of my camera, look at the file name and say starting with image number 6000. I started shooting a different model or some other note about an image and I want to be able to somehow refer to those notes I may have taken where I wrote down the in camera file number and somehow line it up with my images after importing them into lightroom and so by using the number that my camera originally assigned, I can easily do that. And therefore I'm just going to choose this choice right here called file number suffix and I'll hit the insert button because it doesn't automatically put it in there in that case. And then above up here it gives me a sample of what the file name might end up being where the part called Untitled is actually going to be the custom text that I type in. Once I have this all set up, I want to save it as a template so I can very easily get to it later. I'll do that from this menu up at the top and there's a choice in there called save current settings as new preset and when you choose that, all it asks you to do is name it and I'll call mine Creative live because I already have one in there that I usually use and I just want to make sure we, I know that this is the one I've made so I can differentiate it now. I can click done and over on the right side of my screen you see the template pop up menu and it's populated with that particular template of Creative Live and below it it says custom text in right there. I can type in what I would like to include in the file name and here I usually type in either the location that I was shooting or the subject matter. I was capturing just something that makes it memorable and it all depends on what type of event it was if it was a holiday and my type in the word christmas, if it's a particular subject matter, like in this case Ducks might use that instead. So in this case I'm just gonna call it ducks on the pond and there were all set right below that. It gives me a sample of the file name I'm going to end up with. And then the other thing you need to do when importing is moved down a little bit and down here it says destination. And in there is where I would choose my general area where I want to import these images to, I'm gonna put mine in my pictures folder but usually I have this going to an external hard drive. Uh and that's just the way I work. But I'm gonna put mine in the pictures folder up here is a check box to for into sub folder I'll turn it on. And then right here I can type in the name of a sub folder. And what I end up doing is I come right up here to the custom text I used above. I selected I typed command C. Yeah, come down here and type command V for paste. And then I type in the date that is shown right up here. So to 2021 11 oh three with the space. And therefore this is going to match up with my file name and the date that it has here is not today's date, this is the date that those photos were captured on. And so that's fine. And down here I see a preview of the folder name that it's about to be put in. Now before I actually hit the import button, there's a couple other things I want to mention here briefly. And that is just notice that there's a checkbox up here called add to collection. And if I turn it on, I'm going to get a long list of collections I could choose from. We're going to talk about collections in another lesson. I just want you to remember that you could put something in a collection at the time. You import. It also down here is a section called apply during import and in there you're going to find an area called keywords which is the topic of another lesson in this course. And so when I get to keywords, just try to remember that you could have applied some keywords at the time. You imported your pictures. But for now we're just trying to import and make sure we're using unique file names. So I'm going to hit the import button and once the import button is available again I'll hit import and let's do that one more time and maybe find a smaller folder of images. And in this case let's not rename it. Let's see what happens if we forgot to do that. And I'm gonna put them over here. I will give it a unique folder name. But I'm going to make it sure it's something that I'd want to change in the future like the word pond. These are not pictures of a pond. So that's fine. Put those in the pictures folder and I'm just gonna hit import to import these. Remember I did not change their names. And now I should be able to come up to the catalog section and there's a choice in here called previous import. If I click on that it should get me to last images that I have imported and I'm not currently viewing my folder list. If I'd like to view the folder that these images are contained within. I can always right click on the image and there's a choice here called go to folder in library and that should expand my folder list. That's over here and highlight the folder that contains these images. So now let's look at renaming both folders and images after the fact because you might have a catalog full of unorganized images. Well over here is our folder name. If you want to change it, we can right click on it and in there you'll find the choice of rename and you can type in any name you want. But before I do that, I might want to rename these images because I don't remember the date they were captured on. And that's usually how I start my file name. I could look on the right side of my screen under metadata to do that. But let's do it while renaming them to rename an image. You can click on an image and go up to the library menu. That's we're going to find a choice called rename photo. And if you choose that this will come up and this is the same pop up menu of presets that we used when we are importing the images And here I have the one called Creative Live. And remember within that preset was the choice of custom text where I could type something in. Now I have one of these presets that didn't use custom text instead it used shoot name. And that's this top one notice if I choose it. It doesn't allow me to type anything in And that's why I use the choice when I'm making my template of using custom text. And so then here I'm just going to call this tree shooting and now you can see right there, it's going to put the date in, it's going to use our same general formula and when I click OK, that renamed just one picture because I only had one image selected at the time. All I need to do is type command a control liam windows and then I could do it to an entire section of images. Now I did that from the library menu but you can just as easily do it on the right side of your screen. On the right side of your screen is an area called metadata. And within there you should have the choice of file name. Now when you have more than one image selected, like I do right now notice that one image has a brighter background than the others. That's the image. That is the most selected image. And that's the image. You see if you go to the develop module and start processing your images but I have all the other images selected as well. Well on the right side of my image, you'll notice that there's a choice of target photo and that means only change one image. The image. That is the most selected one or there's a choice called selected photos. And that means change all of the images. And when it's on target photo down here, it gives me the current file name and I could just select right here and type in something different if I have it set to selected photos where I have more than one image selected then over here it says mixed because it's not just one file name and there's an icon to the right. If I click on that icon to the right, it's gonna bring me to the same screen that was in a moment ago where I can rename things in here. I can choose my template and I'll just call this tree shooting and I'll click. Ok Now it's going to rename all the images and it was able to use that number that my camera originally assigned. So if I had any notes they would still line up with these, I'd still be able to find out which images I was referring to. So that is you can click on a single image or more than one, go to the Library menu and there you find rename photo. But that's the same thing as coming over here on the right side of your screen under metadata and either typing a new name here or if you have more than one image selected clicking this little icon and therefore you'll be able to rename them all now that I know the date. I'm gonna come over here and rename my folder with a folder highlighted. You should be able to come to the library menu and there's probably a choice in here for renaming a folder but I never use it if it's there because all you need to do is right click and there's a choice in here called rename and I'll come in here and now I can see the date on those images. So I'll put them in with that number and I'll call it tree, shooting, click save and then you'll find that has been changed in your folder list. Now anything you do to the file name of your individual images or your folders is just going to be reflected in your hard drive. So if you want to see that you can right click on any one of these pictures and one of the choices you have is called Show in Finder on Windows. That will be named slightly differently what might be called Show in Windows Explorer, but it should be in the same position in this menu. If I do that, you're going to find a window open and it just shows me on my hard drive here is the name of the folder and there's the file itself. Now in each thing that I do over here is simply going to be reflected in that folder on my hard drive. So there's no need to make changes on your drive. And in fact, if you did, let's see what would happen. I'm gonna come in here and change the name of one of these files, I'm just going to click on it. I'm gonna add a space bar on the end of the file name and then I'll press return and you notice that that's the file that ends in the number 98 then I'll come in here and I'll look for that particular image. Here's 96 97 98 B This image right here. Now, lightroom is not always looking at that folder instantaneously to figure out if things still aligned. But if I switch away from this folder and then switch right back, I'm gonna notice something different about that particular image. When I look at number 98, let's compare it to 97 97. Over here on the right side says it has both the original image and something known as a smart preview. If I click on number 98 the one that has the file name changed, you're going to find that. It doesn't know where the original picture is here. It says it only has a smart preview, it doesn't know where the original is and that's because this file name no longer matches the one that's on my hard drive. If I go back to my hard drive and I simply get rid of that little space on the end so that the file name here matches what's in Lightroom then it might take it a second but it knows now it has both the original and the smart previous. If I really wanted to rename that file, I should do it within lightroom because any changes I make in lightroom will be reflected on my hard drive. Yeah. Then if I want to, I want to move these files around, let's say one of these files was of a duck on a pond. I can click on one of these images and just drag it within my folder list over here. And if I drag it to the other folder and let go then if I view that folder, you'll see there's the image and it did move on my hard drive. I'm gonna move it back though, so it's not in the wrong place. And the other thing you can do is when moving these. If you need a copy of an image just holding the option key. Alton Windows. When you drag to another folder and that will end up making a copy of the image. So you have it in both locations. And now that you have unique file names, it'll be much easier to find a file if anyone ever refers to it. And if you ever export images, there's really no risk of having two files with the exact same names. Trying to be recorded to the same folder because every image has a unique name in every image is in a folder that reflects that file name. So it's much easier to locate any image in the future.

Ratings and Reviews

Deb Green
 

Brilliant in-depth, on-topic information well presented. Ben has forgotten more about LR than most people will ever know - his depth of knowledge is exceptional and he's also a polished presenter. Love the way each of Ben's words count, no chatter for the sake of it - straight to the point every time, but still engaging and friendly! I like the new office location, but do miss the excellent handouts that have come with Ben's earlier CreativeLive classes.

user-8a69fb
 

Ben is the best instructor! I have tried several different Lightroom organizational strategies from other instructors but find Ben's way is what works best for me. It is well thought out and makes working in Lightroom Classic a joy. Thank you Ben!

a Creativelive Student
 

Great ORGANIZATIONAL overview course for Lightroom Classic. Ben presents everything quite clearly. I've always been a "Collections/Sets" person and now considering working more within the Folders structure he presents. Which leads to a key concern - with Ben's "240,000" images in his Lightroom catalog - I wondered about discussing how to use Preview types (since they chew up space, and the discussion about local/internal image storage vs. external storage is an important one). Also with that type of quite detailed folder and photo naming structures, I wonder how often he runs into "character length restrictions" Overall, great organizational info and I picked up a few things, as always. Would recommend it for anyone new to Lightroom Classic or NOT new to Lightroom Classic. It's never too late to learn things or - in this case - move photos to another organization type! :)

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