Import From Catalog - NOT recognizing duplicates- CHAOS

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New Member
Feb 10, 2011
I've been using LR since the beginning and recently teaching the wonderful capabilities of "Importing from Catalog".

I have a student who works on his local machine in a "working catalog" and when he's ready to backup his changes / new photos to an external drive, he opens up his "master catalog" on an external and "IMPORTS FROM CATALOG"(local catalog on his machine}.

I personally use and teach this workflow as it should update existing files, and import new files. However, when he selects to import from another catalog, it does not recognize the duplicates. The files are originally from ana iPhoto file or even from his media card, and neither catalog recognizes that each has the same files. Instead, it imports with a -2 at the end of the filename. He IS using the latest version of 3.3.

To boot, the filename, metadata creation and edit times are all EXACTLY the same - ideas??? As he is organizing for the first time, we're talking about hundreds, even thousands of possible duplicates that are not being recognized - help! I have never been so stumped as I use this regularly myself - why wouldn't it be working for him?!!?

Hi tcbbttb, welcome to the forum!

Are any of the duplicates being recognized?

If you're importing from another catalog, are the photos in the same location/folder structure?

The duplicate checking in import should pick up duplicates based on original filename (as recorded in catalog at time of import), file length and capture time. I'm not absolutely sure what the duplicate checks during import from catalog work on though, as I have a feeling folder structure may come into play too.

Out of interest, is there a particular reason he's split across 2 catalogs? It would be far simpler if he was using one large catalog, even if the originals were kept offline.

FWIW, in untangling the tangle, there's a duplicate finder plug-in for LR that I tried recently, and allows you to check against various metadata, which may help find and sort your duplicates.
Hi Victoria,

THANK YOU for your quick response!

He is using 2 catalogs, one master with all images located on an external drive with ALL of his files. Then he has a "working catalog" which is located on his local computer. He imports all new files from memory cards to his working catalog on his machine, then when he's ready to backup to an external drive for his entire archive, he opens up his master on the external drive and chooses, "Import From Catalog" to find the new images in the working catalog and any updates from existing photos. When he's done working on images on his machine, he can delete those images to save space on his local drive, make sense? It saves having to always use an external drive with the offline images ( he frequently travels and works in various locations ) or it save from having to sort by edit time to know what files have been updated.

I will absolutely check out the plug in, thank you for your suggestions - I'll report back - fingers crossed!
There are a few posters I know on here who do something similar, i.e. use local internal drive for 'current work', and archive complete work to an external hard drive. The thing is they do that using one catalog only, which to me sounds a far more workable solution. All new images are imported into the internal hard drive, so they are always available even when the external is offline, there are no problems trying to maintain things such as keyword lists across two catalogs. When finished with them on the internal drive, connect the external and simply drag and drop from internal to external using the Folders Panel, thus no risk of duplicate images happening. Worth considering? May make life an awful lot simpler...

Back to the issue at hand, one would logically assume that not enough diligence is being applied to the workflow to prevent the duplicate files issue, i.e. it sounds quite likely that the 'delete from the internal when exported to external' part of the process is not always being followed, hence the opportunity for re-exporting is arising. Without doing some extensive testing on this aspect of the 'import/export catalog' process (which I'm not currently in a position to do), I can't advise how to avoid the duplicates. I'll try to get some testing done later tonight or tomorrow.
Well, I've done some testing but have been unable to recreate the problem which you describe. If you still want to pursue this, can I ask for some screenshots:

1. The folders panel of the working catalog
2. The folders panel of the archive catalog
3. The Import from Catalog dialog screen, so that I can see what settings are being used.
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