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So I can easily create a smart collection of files that I didn't put into a collection, and that collection includes 90-95% of the photos in my catalog. I was wondering if I can leverage that collection to move the files to my backup drive, but retain the folder structure, i.e. (year > month > date) when the files are moved, while not impacting the photos / files that ARE in a collection. Is that most across hundreds of such folders?

My current flow is moving the entirety of the folders, but obviously then I am also moving the files I have edited. I know as long as the backup drive is visible I can still see and export those off-the-laptop files, but I would rather keep them but not the unpicked files. Note that I always import in the year > month > date tree folder structure and I would to keep that uniform.

Wondering if anyone has had success in doing something similar to the above.

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You can click cmd-A (cntrl-A windows) to select all, then click on an image and drag/drop them to a new location. It will not recreate the date folder structure in the new location (AFAIK); but you can have the images sorted by capture date (i.e. in sequence).

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