How to Use the Folders Panel in Lightroom

How to Use the Folders Panel in Lightroom


The web is full of articles about Lightroom’s Develop Module. It’s the flash part of Lightroom, making our images look so much better. It truly is the heart of Lightroom, but if you can’t find images when you need them, you may as well have never shot them. That’s where the Folders Panel in Lightroom. Because if Develop is the heart of Lightroom, then the Library module is definitely the head.

The Library module is all about managing your images. It uses a range of tools to do this. Key among these are Folders and Collections. In this article, we’ll be looking at the Folders Panel.

The Folders Panel


The Folders panel shows a hierarchy that represents folders on your drive which have been imported into Lightroom, either directly, or created when importing images. Because it only contains imported folders, it may not include or show all folders or subfolders available on the drive.

Show/Hide Parent Folder

Don't Import Suspected Duplicates in the Import Dialog

Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates in the Import Dialog

The key feature of Folders in Lightroom is that they only allow an image to be located in one folder only. This is controlled by the “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” checkbox in the Import dialog. There are good reasons for this.

First, physical duplicates take up space on your hard drive, and in backups. Secondly, how do you know if you’re looking at the right file to export if there are only subtle differences between them? You can, of course, create different versions of an image using Virtual Copies (without duplicating the file). The beauty of this is the copy only exists as a preview on disk, taking up very little room, but still allowing a managed set of versions to exist.

With the hierarchy in the Folders panel, you can move up and down the folder tree by using two commands available on each top level folder (the folders in which subfolders reside). These commands are; Show Parent Folder and Hide Parent Folder. The former reveals more of the folder tree on your hard drive, while the latter hides it.

Show/Hide Parent Folder

Show/Hide Parent Folder

Add Folder/Subfolder

Click the + Icon for more Folder options

Click the + Icon for more Folder options

Generally, most of the folders in Lightroom are created outside Lightroom, or as part of Import, but there are also tools to create them within Lightroom. Click the plus (+) icon in the Folders panel header to access the Folders menu. From there you can create a new folder or even a subfolder inside the current folder. When creating a subfolder, you can include images to move into it after its creation.

Find Missing Folder/Update Folder Location

It’s important you remember that Lightroom is a database, so it depends on the information collected upon import to do its job. One important bit of information is the folder’s physical location on your hard drive. If you move a folder outside of Lightroom (or even rename it), Lightroom will lose track of it. You can relink the folder using the “Find Missing Folder” command, but it’s generally best to move single folders and images inside Lightroom. If you want to move an entire tree somewhere else, use the Show Parent Folder command until you’re at the top of the tree. Then in the OS copy the whole tree to the new location.

Click the + Icon for more Folder options

Click the + Icon for more Folder options

You can quickly get to the top folder on your hard drive by using the shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + R for Show in Finder/Explorer. Once the copy is complete, right-click on the top-level folder in Lightroom, and choose “Update Folder Location”. Browse to the new location and select the top level folder. Lightroom will now associate all the catalog information with the new file location. This is great for when you outgrow a drive but still want all your files together, as it allows you to move everything safely without losing any of your work.

Drives in Folders

Folders Drive Icon

Folders Drive Icon

Speaking of drives, each disk also has a tab in the Folders panel, showing the name of the drive, and information about it. A graphical LED shows a color to represent remaining space on the drive. Green means okay, orange means it is almost full. Red means critically full, especially for the drive that contains the catalog file. Black means the drive is disconnected, and the drive bar will be dimmed.

Video with More Info

To expand on this article check out my video on the Folders panel. It’s a pretty in-depth look at Folders in Lightroom and covers more than what I’ve gone through here. If you’re a visual learner, you’ll get more from watching. Check it out below:

If you’ve specific questions, don’t be afraid to ask in the comments below.

Read more from our Post Production category

Sean McCormack is a Fuji X Photographer and author based in the Galway in the west of Ireland. He's the author of The Indispensable Guide to Lightroom CC. When he's not writing or creating YouTube content, he shoots people, places and even things.

  • i am facing the difficulty but now after this i will not have problem regarding softwarethis option

  • parkylondon

    If, like me, you use a nested series of folders in LR (Year, Month, ) it becomes an enormous bore to navigate the entire tree to get to the latest work folder(s). Is there a way of making a specific folder your “favourite” with, say, a shortcut to it at the top of the Library module?

  • Sean McCormack

    How about a Smart Collection with the criteria Capture Date in the last 30 Days? That way it’s automatically updating every day.

  • parkylondon

    Yep, that’s how I do it now. I still think having a “shortcut” ability would be very useful. Thanks.

  • Sean McCormack

    Because there’s a way to do it somehow, I doubt it’s something Adobe would add. The first thing that gets asked when discussing features, is whether or not there’s a workaround. If there’s a way, the feature priority is immediately lowered. There’s a tonne of stuff I’d love in there, but it’s never gonna happen.

  • daisyangel

    very amazing post shared by admin. its great stuff for users to get info here. many software are available but you share outstanding way.

  • Sharpblade

    Great work buddy.
    Windows 7 Loader

  • irzaismail

    outstanding work shared here by admin.
    SolidWorks 2018

  • KhanJee

    Nice touch about the folder make in the light room and also very interesting facts in which your blog is very impressive and also good facts. Dr Fone Crack

  • Malik Shehzad

    What a nice post and nodoubt explained beautifuly.Thank you for such a wonderful article and sharing.
    God bless you.!
    winRAR 5 crack

  • Waris Ali

    Really a nice post.Indeed an awsome way you explain it.Thanks for the information you shared, is very useful.
    Appreciates alot.
    PyCharm activation code

  • iamhassan
  • nadia salman

    Camfog Video Chat 6-11
    amazing work keep writing the good posts

  • I love to read your artilces. Like I love FL Studio 12 Crack

  • You can also check Patchsofts

  • Lightroom is such a working tool now a days! I also used it but didn’t get that much tools from it!
    Franzis CutOut 2018 Professional Crack

  • Waris Ali

    A decent post, extremely grateful and cheerful that you will compose numerous more posts like this one.
    Keep it up for more valuable sharing. Well thank u so much
    Stata crack

  • Cracked IT Free

    Very useful info. A complete guide is shared.

    Camtasia 9 Crack

  • Sadia Usman

    Awesome Work dude. Check this outsadipc. Awesome blog with plenty of good information.

  • I have read your post.I wanna inform you that Cyber Monday sale is out now.You can get latest discount coupons here.Thank you. wiinkey

  • Vital cracks

    Great stuff. Thanks admin: Clean Master Pro Apk Cracked

  • muhammad wasay

    Nice work man, you can also check the picsart photostdio pro apk mod

  • David Mathews

    Great Work man, thanks for the tutorial.
    Crazy Cooking Chef mod apk Unlimited

  • Ameer ul Azeem

    very nice tool to manage the work and folder on desktop and in laptops
    AVS Video Editor Crack

  • Abrar Hasan
  • Dunhill

    Very nice and well done dear good task keep it up dear
    Zenmate Crack

  • irzaismail

    great info shared here
    Power Data Recovery

  • Alisah Angel
  • cracked softz
Join Our Email Newsletter

Thanks for subscribing!

DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed