When I import into LR I get a lot of options about how I want the imported photos to be put into folders in the destination. Is there someway I can access that flexibility when moving photos that have already been imported.

My specific case is that I imported a lot of photos (> 19k) from iPhoto organized by Event name. Apple chose a name format for those Events with no name to be something that doesn't sort well (e.g. Apr 2, 2009). For those events I would like to move them into my other directories that are sorted by date (e.g. 2009/04-02) as I would have been able to do at import time. Is there anyway to get that flexibility of the import Destination selector when moving items already in the Catalog?

  • Does this help? photo.stackexchange.com/a/38037/4892
    – dpollitt
    Apr 14 '13 at 18:17
  • @dpollitt, thank your for your reply, but not really. I tried doing this with the photos that are already imported and to do a move as another import with the "by date" filter but LR knew the files where already in the Catalog and wouldn't let me select them.
    – Victor
    Apr 15 '13 at 19:32

Nothing completely automated taht I know of, but here's what I do in this kind of situation:

Create a collection titled something like "stuff I need to sort out"

Select all of the images you need to sort out, and drag them into that collection.

You can now use all of of the tools within Lightroom to make selections - keyword or metadata lookups, date ranges, etc. So now you iterate through the collection.

Create a folder (note: folder, not collection) for one specific set of images.

Select the collection. Within the collection, sort out the images you want in that folder. I typically mark them as picks. Then select all of the picks, and drag them into the folder.

When you do that, Lightroom will physically move all of those images into that folder from wherever they were. (side note: if you want to leave the physical organization alone, then do this as collections. An image can be in as many collections as you want; it can only be in one folder, though).

After you're done moving them, select them again, go back to the big collection, and remove them from that collection. This is one reason why using the Mark option is useful, since it makes it easy to get the selection back. When you've removed them from the big collection, unmark everything and go for the next batch.

Once you do this a few times, it'll become second nature. If you start by trying to grab the easy and/or big groups you can manage, you'll quickly end up with a relatively small number of images that youc an go through even if it's one by one.

I recently went through a group of about 5000 images where I wanted to sort them out by various collections and most of the images ended up in at least two. I was able to completely process them out using this technique in about 40 minutes.

  • I have about 19k files and sorting them out into dates manually would be a huge chore and is a frustrating option because I know LR will do it with files that are not yet imported.
    – Victor
    Apr 15 '13 at 19:34
  • Another option -- you could remove all of those images from Lightroom and re-import them. Or better, create a new catalog, and import them into the new catalog. if you like it, you can then either replace your catalog with the new one or delete the images out of the old catalog and then merge the new catlog into it.
    – chuqui
    Apr 15 '13 at 19:37
  1. Select all of the photos you wish to re-import.
  2. Right-click, choose "Remove..."
  3. Do not choose "Remove from Disk"! Choose just Remove.
  4. Now do an import. Choose the Lightroom folder that the photos were in. It should ignore the ones you didn't remove, and choose all of the ones you did remove. Make sure you select "Move" rather than Copy, or you will have a bunch of duplicates on disk.
  • I flagged this answer as "low quality": re-importing photos has already been proposed by chuqui in a comment and the OP haven't reacted to it. Why suggesting it again?
    – Olivier
    Feb 27 '16 at 19:20
  • 1
    @Olivier Disagree this is low-quality. It attempts to answer the question and is perfectly valid. Comments are meant to be temporary. Answers are not, and answers can be upvoted/edited/etc.
    – inkista
    Feb 27 '16 at 19:35
  • @inkista: I doubt that it will help the OP as he hasn't responded to chuqui comment and haven't accepted an answer so far. Answering an old question by picking an element in comments won't probably do much, even for other people coming here. I haven't flagged the answer as "not an answer", thus considering it a valid answer.
    – Olivier
    Feb 27 '16 at 19:42
  • 1
    @Olivier The OP hasn't logged in for nearly a year so whether or not they've responded to something isn't a good measure of how valuable an answer is. Also, questions and answers on SE are supposed to be useful to people beyond just the original asker. I don't think this is a great answer but it does suggest a way to achieve the desired goal. Feb 27 '16 at 20:19
  • Won't the flags, edits, and other metadat for photos be lost if this is done?
    – cyanos
    Dec 9 '16 at 3:42

This is a half baked thought... You could write a script using Exiftool to move the files into the folders that you want them to go. Now, Lightroom will not know where the photos are but you can hook them back up. LR is sorta kinda smart about that but it may prove to be horribly awkward.

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