How to Use Lightroom's Auto Import FeatureIn this free video tutorial I show you how to use Lightroom’s Auto Import feature, with which Lightroom watches a folder on your hard drive and automatically imports any images that land in that folder. This feature is also in earlier versions of Lightroom. Here are a few examples of when it can be handy:

  • When scanning slides or prints, have Lightroom monitor the folder you’re saving your scans into.
  • When using a third-party cloud service to get your mobile device photos to your computer, have Lightroom monitor the cloud folder.
  • If Lightroom’s tethered capture feature isn’t supported for your camera, use your camera manufacturer’s software for tethered capture, and have Lightroom watch the folder your captured images are saved to.

The Cliff-Notes version:

  • Go to File > Auto Import > Auto Import Settings, and select the Watched folder – it must initially be empty.
  • Select a Destination folder – where Lightroom will move the images to as it imports them. (Lightroom’s goal will be to empty the watched folder.)
  • Specify additional import settings if desired – file renaming, Develop settings (preset), metadata preset, keywords, previews.
  • Check Enable Auto Import at the top of the dialog.
  • To turn off Auto Import, go to File > Auto Import, and uncheck Enable Auto Import.
For best quality, after hitting Play click on the sprocket wheel in the bottom right and choose 720/HD.

I forgot to mention in the video that Lightroom can’t monitor subfolders within a watched folder – the only images it will import are those sitting directly in the watched folder.

Video Table of Contents:
00:17 What Auto Import Does
00:33 Versions
00:39 Example: scanning slides
00:52 Cloud transfer of mobile photos
01:06 Set up folder to watch
01:23 Auto Import Dialog
01:32 Watched folder
01:52 Destination folder
02:10 No organize by date – alternatives
03:11 Destination Subfolder
03:20 Other settings
03:58 What happens when photos are added to watched folder
04:33 Auto Import and tethered capture
05:32 Stopping Auto Import monitoring