Importing images to Adobe Lightroom in 4 easy steps.

Adobe Lightroom doesn’t have the Open and Save file handling functionality, which many other software tools do.

The reason for this is that Lightroom doesn’t work with actual images. It creates its own catalogue file (named Catalog) which stores all the data about the images – name, date, size, location on the drive, keywords and other metadata. The Catalog is the file that Lightroom works with.

The thing is that Adobe Lightroom is actually unable to change an original image at all. Yes, that’s right. Every time you edit an image in Lightroom it creates a copy, leaving the original file intact. That’s why there is Import and Export file handling instead of Open and Save.

Adobe Lightroom file menu

By importing you add your images to the Lightroom Catalog and by exporting you are saving edited copies as new separate files. This way you will never screw any of your photos by editing them in Adobe Lightroom, no matter how crazy you go on using tools and settings. How smart this is!

In this article we will focus on importing photos to an Adobe Lightroom Catalog

You can import photos into your Lightroom Catalog from an external source, such as USB flash drive, HDD, card reader or camera connected via USB port. Or you can add the files that are already on your hard drive to a Lightroom Catalog.

    1. Specify the source

In order to import photos from a connected camera (or any other external source) to your Lightroom Catalog, in the top menu click:

File – Import Photos and Video…

This will pop up the Import dialog window

Adobe Lightroom Import Dialog

You can switch to a Minimal Import window view if you are importing all the images from this particular source, and are not going to select any specific files. To do this you have to click a small triangle icon on the bottom left hand side of the Import dialog window. Once you do so, your dialog window view will change to this:

Adobe Lightroom Minimal Import Dialog

To revert back to full window view – click the same button again. Further in the article we will look at the full Lightroom Import dialog window view as it’s the most used one.

On the left hand side top corner of the Import dialog window you have to choose your source (which in our case is a connected camera)

Adobe Lightroom Import Dialog Source

    2. Select and preview images

After the source has been specified, Lightroom will present you a preview of the images on that source. Now you can select images that you wish to import by ticking respective check-boxes. By default Adobe Lightroom chooses all new images for you. However, if you wish to choose specific photos, you may rearrange this manually. You can also click Check All, Uncheck All or choose a previously saved Import Preset on the bottom menu to speed-up the process. Also Grid view and Loupe view icons are available in the bottom menu. Sort option allows to sort files by capture time, checked state, file name and media type. Thumbnails slider adjusts the preview thumbnails size.

Adobe Lightroom Import Dialog bottom menu

    3. Choose importing options

In the middle top of the Lightroom Import dialog window you have the import options.

Adobe Lightroom Import Options

You can choose from:

Copy – this will copy your files to a specific folder of your choice and add them to Catalog

Copy as DNG – copy the files to a specific folder, convert camera RAW files to DNG (Digital Negative) and add them to Catalog.

Move – image files will be moved from the source to a specified location preserving the original file format.

Add – files will not be copied or moved to a new location. Instead, Lightroom will add them to your current Catalog.

*Options Add and Move are not available when importing from a camera or card reader.

All Photos – this will display all images on the chosen source

New Photos – only displays photos that haven’t been previously imported from this source, ignores suspected duplicates.

Destination Folders – group files by destination folders

    4. Specify where to put the imported photos on your computer

On the right hand side navigation panel you can specify where to save the imported photos. As well as how to name them, what keywords to add and which quick develop settings to apply to your images.

Adobe Lightroom Import Settings Panel

Once you have all handling instructions set, click the Import button on the bottom of the right hand side navigation panel and let Lightroom do the job.

During the import process you will see the progress bar on the top left hand side. Once the process is complete the bar will tell you that and disappear.

Adobe Lightroom Import Progress Bar

That’s it! Job’s done! Now you can go ahead and have fun editing your images. In the upcoming articles we will explain how to export edited images using Adobe Lightroom. Also we will take a closer look at the other Lightroom modules and their functionality.

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