Newer users often don’t realize that the Folders panel in the Lightroom Library module can be used to rearrange your photos and folders. Below are some tips for using it. Note that whatever you do with this panel is in fact affecting your hard drive — you are just doing the work from within Lightroom. If you do this work outside of Lightroom with Finder or Explorer, Lightroom will lose its connection to your photos, and you will end up with question marks everywhere.
Using Lightroom’s Folders Panel:
- Before you can move things around, you need to be able to see your folder hierarchy. For example, if you can’t see that your 2011 folder lives within Pictures, right-click on 2011 and choose Add Parent Folder (Show Parent Folder in Lightroom 4+), to reveal Pictures.
- To move a folder into a different folder, drag it and drop it on top of the folder you want to move it into.
- To rename a folder, right-click and choose Rename.
- To create a new subfolder, right-click on the folder it will go in, and choose Create Folder Inside…
- To remove a folder, right-click on it and choose Remove. Note that even if Lightroom shows no photos in it, it is possible that there are photos or other files in it out on your hard drive, that you never imported into Lightroom. If the folder is indeed empty, when you Remove it, Lightroom will delete it. If it’s not empty you won’t see it in Lightroom any more, but it will not be deleted from your hard drive. To see if it’s empty, right-click on the folder and choose Show in Explorer/Finder.
- To move photos from one folder to another, select them in the Grid, then click and drag from within any of the selected image thumbnails. (Dragging from the grey border will not work.)
- To rearrange photos within a folder, click and drag the image thumbnails in the grid. Note that you must be in a folder with no subfolders for this to work!
- To see if there are photos out in the folder on your hard drive that are not yet in Lightroom, right-click on the folder, and choose Synchronize Folder. If Lightroom finds any, it will launch the Import dialog for you, with these photos.
- If you have folders with question marks:
- If the folders still exist out on your hard drive, right-click on the folder and choose Find Missing Folder. Navigate to where the folder is on your hard drive, and select it.
- If the folders and the photos no longer exist on your hard drive, right-click and choose Remove.
- If the folder doesn’t exist, but the photos are elsewhere, click on the question mark on the photo thumbnail in the grid, and choose Locate Missing Photo. Navigate to where the photo is on your hard drive, and select it.
Of course this and more is covered on my Lightroom Fundamentals and Beyond: A Workshop on DVD. Do check it out!