Oct 162012

My goal in this post is to give you a couple suggestions for managing your files if you choose to shoot in raw+JPEG mode, capturing both file types for every photo you take, and if you wish to include and manage them both in Lightroom. As I discussed in my previous post, Shooting in Raw + JPEG Mode: Why Most of Us Shouldn’t, and How to Set Lightroom Preferences If You Do, managing both in Lightroom involves setting your Lightroom preferences to treat the raw and JPEG photos as separate photos so that both are imported.

After I explain these tips, I will mention two more potential reasons for shooting in raw+JPEG mode, that readers wrote in about after reading my last post.

File Management Options
1. Put the JPEG and Raw Files into Separate Sub-Folders within Your Shoot Folder.

raw and jpeg folders for raw+jpeg shoots in Lightroom

  • After you import your raw and JPEG photos into a shoot folder (01-15 Downtown Seattle in my case), right-click on your shoot folder in the Folders panel, and choose Create New Folder Inside…, and name it JPEG Files.
  • Isolate your JPEGS: Select your shoot folder, and use the Library Filter Bar to isolate the JPEGs. This will be a Metadata filter on File Type – then you will select JPEG. (Watch my video on searching for photos in Lightroom for complete details on how to do this).
  • Select all the JPEG files, with Ctl/Cmd-A, or Edit>Select All.
  • Click inside one of your image thumbnails and drag the photos into your newly created JPEG Files folder.
  • Repeat for your raw files.

Watch my video on File and Folder Management to learn more about how to create folders, and to select and move photos. Note that when you create these subfolders in Lightroom and move photos into them, you are in fact creating subfolders  and moving files on your hard drive — you’re just doing it from within Lightroom.

2. Stack the Raw and JPEG Files Together in the Same Folder

As I mentioned in my recent post on the fundamentals of stacking photos in Lightroom, stacking can be used to link two or more photos together. The stack can be collapsed to reduce visual clutter, and expanded when you want to see and work with the individual photos. To automatically stack each of your  raw and JPEG photos together, select all your raw and JPEG files (Ctl/Cmd-A), and go to Photo>Stacking>Auto Stack by Capture Time, and set the duration to zero so you are only stacking those with the exact same capture time.

automatically stack photos in Lightroom

lightroom: automatically stack raw and jpeg files

You can then choose to collapse the stacks so that you just see the raw files and the JPEGs are hidden underneath (or vice versa), or keep them expanded to see both. To collapse all the stacks at once, select all the photos (ctl/cmd-A), right-click inside one of the thumbnails, and choose Stacking>Collapse All Stacks.

lightroom-collapsed-raw-jpeg stcks

Three Collapsed Raw+JPEG Stacks, with the Raw Files on Top and the JPEGs Underneath

 More on Shooting Raw+JPEG

Now that I have presented these file management options, I want to follow up on my last post on shooting raw+JPEG.  I acknowledged that there are circumstances under which capturing both file types is a perfectly good choice. The predominant one for me would be if I need to be able to immediately share the photos, before having a chance to import them into Lightroom and process them. Others that readers wrote in to share include:

  • Liking the look of your camera’s black-and-white or other in-camera JPEG processing, and also wanting the raw file to apply different processing to.   While I could argue that most (but not all) in-camera-processing looks can be achieved in Lightroom, there’s nothing wrong with saving yourself this work. Just remember that your JPEG is an 8 bit file, which potentially gives you less editing flexibility in post-processing. (See my post, 8 Bit, 12 Bit … 16 Bit — What Does It Really Mean to Digital Photographers?)
  • Instant photo backup. Some pro cameras can store the raw file on one memory card, and the JPEGs on another – so if one card fails, you have a backup file available on the other. Even if the raw and JPEG files are stored on one card, it could be argued that it could be a worthwhile backup, in case the raw file on the card is corrupted. For me, my amateur photography, and my experience with raw files from my camera, this isn’t likely enough  to warrant the extra file management task, but it may be for you.


  49 Responses to “Raw+JPEG Continued: Managing Raw+JPEG Files in Lightroom”

  1. Thanks for the tips. I really appreciate the hard work that you put into this web site. I am one of those people that shoot both raw and jpg, and can use these tips. I hope other people will comment.

  2. Right, I am going to bite the bullet & just shoot RAW. Can’t be that much of a gamble?? (famous last words). Thanks for all your articles Laura

  3. Thanks Laura! Another reason for RAW+JPEG, and the only reason I use the combination is during a big event, such as a wedding, I save medium, basic JPEGs to my second card. During a break in the action I can download these images, flick through them and get a selection into a slideshow super quick. I can’t possibly achieve this with RAWs on account of download time, file size and a lack of horsepower in my laptop. With the JPEGs, it’s a cinch. Once I’m back at the studio, I use the RAW files exclusively and ditch the JPEGs. If I could find a way to quickly and easily associate my selections of the jpegs to the RAW files, I would do that, but haven’t found an easy way to do that. On site, I use Photo Mechanic for it’s pure speed. At the studio, it’s Lightroom time.

    • Beautiful photo and a beautiful edit.You moientn running actions on RAW files, I think I must be missing a trick here as I shoot in RAW (& mostly process in LR) but would convert to JPEG before running an action. Does it really make a lot of difference running an action in RAW rather than JPEG?

      • Hi Santiago, I am not sure where I mention running actions on raw files. If you are going from LR to PS to run actions, I would right click on your photo and choose Edit in Photoshop, and let LR/PS create a PSD or TIFF file to run the action on — these are uncompressed files; a jpeg is compressed and therefore at least technically has lost some quality.

  4. I use florabella and mcp acintos. I’m beginning to shoot in raw and I’m trying to learn what to do with them after that point. I’ve heard that tiff is better than jpg because it keeps more information. I work in PS5 and I haven’t made the change to LR, I’m just not comfortable with the change yet. I’m more comfortable in PS. Anyway, my question is, have you noticed a difference between running acintos on a jpg and a tiff? I’ve been converting my raw images to tiff images and then when I’m all done it ends as a jpg. Am I just wasting a bunch of time with all of these steps? Help!Thanks so much!

    • Kaoma, TIFFs are not compressed, so no information is lost. JPEGS are smaller, because some information is thrown away. This article doesn’t compare tiffs, with no compression, to jpegs with compression, but it will help you understand the concept of compression. http://laurashoe.com/2011/10/18/jpeg-quality-compression-lightroom/ Realistically, if you save jpegs at the highest quality setting, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference, unless you print very large. Saving files out of PS as tiffs or psd files also has the advantage of allowing you to save your layers, so you can change your mind on your work — jpegs flatten all of your work.

      All that said, if you do your photoshop work, save as a jpeg, send off to your client AND never need to reedit, there’s no need for the intermediate TIFF step.

      I think my Lightroom Fundamentals & Beyond series can help you get comfortable with Lightroom. 🙂 In any case, it does require being willing to go through a phase where everything does feel awkward and different, until you get used to it.

  5. Thx for the tutorial, this solves my managing raw+jpeg problem, but is there a way when I delete my raw file, my jpeg automatically are deleted too?#sorry for my bad english, I hope you know what I mean

    • Hi winny, if you don’t treat them as separate files and only import the raw file, when you delete the raw file from within LR, the JPEG will also be deleted. If you do treat them as separate files and import both, you will have to be sure to delete both yourself.

  6. I was wondering if you can convert raw files to tiff and jpg in lightroom 4? I am considering purchasing this software, but was told i needed to make sure i could do that. Thanks for your help

  7. I would love to do this but in Lightroom 3.6 this does not work, I have my folders setup as described and I my photos have identical capture times but Lightroom will not stack them even if I set the interval to one second.

    • Hi Adam, it sounds like you are trying to stack photos that are in different folders. Stacking only works if both the raw and JPEG are in the same folder.

  8. These are good ideas about how to handle RAW+JPG files. I wonder if there is a solution to the issue of renaming when one has both RAW and JPG files. Out of the camera the file names are of the form IMG_123.CR2 and IMG_123.JPG (with only the extension differing). If I rename the files (which I like to to do to add more info), they turn into something like 20130321-whidbey-001.cr2 and 20130321-whidbey-002.jpg. In other words, they no longer have the same sequence number, which they should.

    Another complication is that I also have a P&S that only takes jpg shots, and ideally I’d like to have them managed by LR, also, and it would be great if the sequence number of these pix were such that together with the images from the other camera they were all in shot-time order.

    Am I asking too much?

    • Hi Robert, sorry for the delay in responding. If you don’t treat them as separate files, and therefore only import the raw files, the corresponding jpegs will be renamed with the same name — for example, test-001.cr2 and test-001.jpg. If you treat them as separate files and import both, and still want this to happen, I would sort by capture time and filter to just show the raw files, and rename, then filter to just show the jpegs, and rename with the same rule. Your P&S complicates this. But remember that you can always sort by capture time, regardless of filename.

  9. After stacking the photos, how could i have control on which file type I would like LR to set as top of stack?
    I tried the same method in quite a few of my folders, some showing jpeg on top and some having RAW on top of the stack. I know how to do it for any stack manually, but I don’t suppose I have to do it for all stacks one by one? Thanks for your advise in advance!

    • Hi Victor, perhaps it has to do with the timestamps of your camera, or how you had the photos sorted in the grid beforehand. I would suggest sorting your photos in the grid in the order you want them first (either sort by capture time or capture time backwards).

      • Hi Victor, Laura,
        I was facing the same problem, sometimes the jpg was on top of the stack, sometimes the dng file.

        I solved it by time-shifting the time the jpg pictures were taken with -1 second, and then auto-stacking them with 1 second time-overlap. This way the jpg files are on top.

        It seems the pictures that are taken “first” are put on top of the stack.

        Hope this helps..


  10. Thanks again for this! It really is helping someone like me who is less “tech” savvy and still learning all the ins and outs of LR.

  11. Dear Laura,
    thx for your insight vision on this topic. I remain however with a problem. I only shoot in RAW because I am convinced of the quality of it. I make all my post processing on the RAW file which I then export using the highest possible quality to JPG. I do this only to be able to share, send, etc. the smaller JPG compare to RAW (D800 files) My question is this: why don’t I see the post processing I did on the RAW onto the JPG file while outside of LR? I can only see it in some cases: in Windows File Viewer, in Office products, but NOT in paint, not on a iPad transferred via Dropbox. I do write XMP automatically to file inside LR.
    Any ideas on this?


    • Hi Philippe, are you saying that your exported JPEGs don’t show your raw file edits? If so, you have me stumped – I would suggest posting on lightroomforums.net. If you mean that your edited raw files don’t show the edits outside of LR, that is because many programs can’t read XMP information.

  12. I am making the transition from jpeg to raw and shot a couple events last weekend in raw + jpeg so I could compare how the files look. I didn’t know about needing to change the preference to import the files as separate files, and downloaded them so that the jpegs are now embedded as “sidecars.” Is there any way to extract them?

    I still have some of the original images on the sd cards and could reimport them but I had to reuse a couple cards and no longer have the first set of images on them.


    • Hi Bill, try checking the preference to treat them as separate files, and then import the jpegs. (In the Import dialog, select your folders that have jpegs as the Source, and LR will import what isn’t yet in LR – the JPEGs.)

  13. I like to work with raw files only and import these into LR –

    I have a lot of raw images which have been edited in LR but not exported – is there a way of checking which have and have not been exported?

    Also I would like to convert Raw files to jpegs and then delete the raw files but then they go missing in the LR catalogue – can I convert them and automatically reimport them , keeping them in their same location, without having to go thru the process manually?


    • Joy, the only way to see if a photo has been exported is to check the History panel in the Develop module, or set up Publish Services to keep track of your exports. (Publish Services is too much for me to explain here, but it is covered in depth in my Lightroom 5: The Fundamentals & Beyond series (and earlier versions.)

      If you export JPEG copies and then want the JPEGS to be added to the LR catalog, check the “Add to Catalog” checkbox in the first section of the export dialog.

      That said, why export your raw files as JPEGs and then delete the raw files? Why not keep the raw files instead? They give you the most flexibility and highest quality.

  14. Thanks for the tips here, the stacking idea was a greet way to clean up my work flow. When shooting with my D800 I only shoot RAW, but my Fuji x100s does some beautiful in camera effects that are only rendered to JPG so I am always shooting RAW+JPG with that camera. Your ideas have made my workflow with that camera easier.

  15. wonder if anyone can help me…

    I am putting raw files into lightroom from iPhoto and it automatically converts them into JPEGS? Whys it this? It restricts my workflow…

  16. if I made the mistake of importing both together, what am I seeing on the previews and on the edition proccess?

    • If you see only one in Lightroom, Miguel, it is the raw file and its associated previews.

      • Thank´s Laura, I think you are right but… what´s adobe´s piont on mentioning both in the file name but only allowing you to access the Raw one?

  17. Hmmm. Regarding stacking the raw and jpeg images after having, as instructed, moved them into separate folders, I’m getting the error message: “Stacks cannot contain photos that are stored in different folders.”

    Is there a way to stack photos of the same file name (excluding extension) that are in different folders?

  18. Thanks for your excellent website. You say that after selecting pictures
    You can then choose to collapse the stacks so that you just see the raw files and the JPEGs are hidden underneath (or vice versa), or keep them expanded to see both.

    I’ve collapsed all, but cant find a way to choose whether to have raw or jpeg displayed on top. How do I do that?

  19. Thanks for the tip, Laura. Any idea how to auto-stack Raw+JPEG when you shoot at high speeds? For example, 10fps continuous shooting with a RX100? In this case, ‘auto-stack’ stacks them all into a stack b/c the EXIF time-stamp does not provide enough precision.

    I’m surprised LR doesn’t do this automatically. The other option – not seeing the JPEGs at all – is somewhat undesirable. I often want to take a look at the default camera output, especially when I engage dynamic range/picture profile modes.

    Cheers, Rishi

    • I don’t have any suggestions in this case, Rishi. I agree that an option to stack them automatically would be useful.

  20. FWIW, I do create the folders to separate out my JPEG and RAW files following my initial import into LR5, but I do the folder creation and file movement to their separate folders in “Windows Explorer” (faster for me to create folders, select file type, and drag drop into new folders). Keep in mind that I have the check box checked to make JPEGs sidecar files to ensure both RAW and JPEGs are imported initially into LR5. After all folder creation and file movement in “Windows Explorer”, I hop back over to LR5 then right click on original imported folder and select “synchronize folder”, which makes LR5 sync up all of the changes I made in “Windows Explorer”. If you have several shoots you’re doing at a time, you can have a couple of synchronizations happening in LR5 at the same time.

  21. great tips Laura: i was struggling with how to manage jpg+ raf ( fuji) together.

    one this i found when i stack them it shows the .jpg as the first photo; for me it would be better of the RAF file was top of the pair as i will 99% be adjusting the raw as you suggest.

    again great work and thanks. I do find lightroom to be very powerful and great BUT always a bit confusing first time around trying to do something new. it took me a lot of perserverance to switch from photoshop but worth the investment of effort.

  22. Hi Laura,

    We actually shoot RAW+JPG all the time for our executive portrait sessions because we are wirelessly transmitting the small JPG files direct to a laptop so the client can view them instantly and make their selection. My issue is that once the session is done, all I want to do is import ONLY the RAW files because the JPG files have already served their purpose. I’ve not found a way to do this other than to setup my 1DX to shoot RAW to 1 card and JPG to the second card. I would love to hear your thoughts on it.


    • Randy,

      On the General tab in Preferences (Lightroom>Preferences on Mac, Edit>Preferences on PC), uncheck the option to treat Raw and JPEG as separate photos.

  23. Thank you!!! I have been trying to find an uncluttered way to view my images in LR when shooting raw + jpeg. As for why I shoot that way, sometimes the jpeg file looks just fine and I go with it and save myself all the second guessing in editing. I am a hobbyist.

  24. I use windows and have got as far separating in TYPE ,highlighting but cant get them into a folder. It says new folder at top …..right clicked on that but nothing happens . ……anyone know the exact workflow for getting raws and jpegs into separate folders i windows? thnks

    • I’m not sure what you mean by new folder, Annalie. If you want to create a subfolder to put them in, right-click on your master folder and select Create Folder Inside, and give it a name. Then select your photos and drag them in (dragging from one of the image thumbnails, not the gray border around them.)

  25. Hi Laura,

    This is a brilliant article. I am a Raw+Jpeg shooter because I cover sports events where I have to turn around a great volume a photos quickly. I have been looking for such a LR workflow (to handle both types of files) for years and I am very happy that I found it with your help. Keep up the good work and thank you so much… !

  26. Dear Laura,

    Thank you very much, few of your tips were really helpful. Specially the “treat JPEG Separately”. I used to shoot RAW only and have started shooting RAW + JPG

    Primarily I shoot portraits only, candid or posed.


    – Look of JPG that Nikon produces (after applying in camera processing i.e. Vivid & Others) is extremely difficult to re-produce in LightRoom.Even if I get 90% close, it requires significant re-work. I only need to apply extremely mild re-touch to pictures before sharing. Since, I am often pressed to share these pictures immediately. My subjects want their pictures up on social media before anyone else.

    – JPG occupies much less space than RAW
    Once I have processed the event, I only keep high quality JPG (keepers only) and delete rest of Data. It saves me significant time

    – Scrolling through RAW:
    First task I do after taking photos is to find (keepers) and I only edit those. i.e. If I have taken 10 pictures of one girl in a graduation ceremony; I would only keep her 1 while receiving degree, 1 with friends. Here is no point keeping pictures where she accidentally winked.

    Scrolling through 1000 JPG is lot more easy than RAW file, each RAW when open in simple window viewer or Lightroom, it just tests limits of computer. Causing frustrating time at each image.

  27. Is there an easy way to do this: I usually send small (preview) jpeg files so the clientes can make a list. Normaly they send me back the chosen jpegs. How do I easly pick my correspondent raw files on my catalogue? I usually search for them name by name. Any easy solution?

    • If you have a CC subscription you could sync your collection of photos to Lightroom web, send them a link to it to view the photos, and have them comment on the ones they like. The comments will show up on your raw files in LR.

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