I already have 30k pictures ordered in the following format: YYYY/MM/YYYY-MM-DD. I would like to continue this format instead of going through and renaming all my folders (besides, I like this layout). Is there any way to add to the items in the date format drop down to include my own format?

  • \$\begingroup\$ The title of this is somewhat deceiving. Using a custom filename is simple; the question asks about using a custom directory structure for date organization. That is somewhat more... involved. Perhaps the title should be changed to, "Is there a way to import pictures into Lightroom using a custom directory structure?" or "directory format"? \$\endgroup\$
    – Brian
    Aug 3, 2011 at 4:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Brian: I had the same thought: just submitted an edited title referring to folder structure rather than filenames. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 3, 2011 at 8:56

3 Answers 3


Short answer: Yes you absolutely can add your own date format to the drop down list. Within your Lightroom program folder, go to the "Resources" folder and create a folder called "en." Then, create a file called "TranslatedStrings.txt."

In that file, write the following line (including the quotes): "$$$/AgImportDialog/ShootArrangement_1/Template=%Y/%m/%Y-%m-%d"

If you're having trouble saving the file because of permissions, try creating the file on your desktop and then copying it into the "Resources\en" folder.

Longer answer: TranslatedStrings.txt is essentially a method to localize Lightroom for different languages, for example by rewriting the menu in another language. However, it also allows you to "hack" parts of Lightroom and personalize it. Adding some custom values to this to the date format dropdown menu is one option. You can also use it to customize the shortcut keys for various tools/actions in Lightroom.

The line "$$$/AgImportDialog/ShootArrangement_1/Template" specifies the value that we're replacing. You can use any number from 1 to 13 at the end of "ShootArrangement" and that will alter the position of the template in the dropdown menu.

The string at the end "%Y/%m/%Y-%m-%d" defines the actual date format. There are a number of different values you can use, and you can find a full list here. For example %b will give you the three letter abbreviation for a month.


Almost but not quite. I'm assuming the last part of your YYYY/MM/YYYY-MM-DD is a folder name, not a filename (as I assume you take more than one photo a day :). If so, Lightroom's Import feature will get you most of the way there but not completely.

To import those photos to Lightroom without moving or renaming them:

  1. Start in Lightroom's Library module.
  2. Click Import... (bottom left)
  3. On the left-hand side of the Import dialog, choose the folder containing your date-based folder structure. At the top, choose Add (rather than Copy or Move). Click Import.

To ensure future photos are imported into the same folder structure (when you copy them from a camera or memory card):

  1. Again start in the Import dialog.
  2. Choose the appropriate camera or memory card in the Source panel (on the left).
  3. Ensure Copy is selected at the top (instead of Add).
  4. In the right panel, scroll down to Destination. Choose the same root folder you added in the previous section. Next to Organize, choose By date.
  5. Here's where Lightroom doesn't quite match your requirements: next to Date Format, choose either the YYYY/MM/DD format or YYYY/YYYY-MM/YYYY-MM-DD. My recommendation is the former: you can easily rename the folder after import and at least it'll start in the right place.

Hope that helps.


If by format, you mean a filenaming convention and folder structure that you already like, then yes, Lightroom will let you add your 30k images to Lightroom from their current locations without renaming them. You want to be "adding" them to Lightroom rather than "importing" them from e.g. a camera card.
The act of importing from a card copies (and optionally renames) the images that are being imported. If your images are already on your hard disk somewhere, then you simply wish to add them.
If however you are wanting to import images, then yes, you can create your own custom filenaming convention in the import dialog, and save it as a filename preset, e.g.

{YYYY}-{MM}-{custom text}-{000}

which gives me


etc as a filename when I import some recent images.


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