Starting the library over again in LR5

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New Member
Aug 5, 2014
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I've got my photos into a bit of a mess and unorganised and having read guidance from experts such as yourself Victoria; I want to start over fresh. I haven't done much editing of any of the photos already in the library.
What is the best away to reorganize and rename the folders without deleting them all and re importing them?
Also any tips on folder hierarchy and naming such as naming by date or places photos were taken in would be welcome.
Please help. it is a PC that I'm running LR5 on.
Here is the approach that I would take. Ignore the folders. Use the Collection panel to create collections and group the images that you have.

If you start a new catalog to "rename the folders without deleting them all and re importing them" You are not helping the organization part of your issue. If you want to start a new catalog file and lose any prior work, you can create a new catalog and use the Import function pointing the source at the old folders. If you then choose the MOVE option on import, and then set up the destination using one of the date named folder schemes and LR will create date named folders based upon the date the image was shot (Capture Date) and LR will move these images into these new folders. This will then consolidate all of your images in a simple dated based folder structure. THEN after import, you can then use the Collections panel to organize your images as I described in the first paragraph.
I think that having a simple and consistent folder organization is important to managing your image library. While Lightroom will gladly catalog any folder on your hard drive if these are scattered willy nilly across your drive it is quite easy accidentally move or delete images knowing they are in your catalog. These forums are replete with example of folks that have suddenly lost chunks for their images because they were "cleaning up" their system not realizing that there were moving or deleting image files.

Here are some recommendations:
  1. Designate a top level folder where you subsequently place all your images.
  2. Use import presets to always place any new images inside this top level folder.
  3. Use a simple date based folder structure. There are several to choose from in the import dialog.
If your existing folders are scattered around and your not precisely sure where they all are than instead of reimporting you could use the Folder Panel wrangle them into shape. Use it to create a new top level folder and then simply use drag and drop to relocate all of the existing folders into the new top lever folder. If you do it this way then you can be certain that you have collected all of your existing images into the new top level folder.

You should of course have a complete backup of your hard drive before you start either method.

I agree with Louie, although I don't think one needs to put too much thought into folder naming or hierarchies; collections and keywords are better for that stuff.

Perhaps a screen shot of your current Folder pane would help us give you some more specific help. Most of us use something as simple as a bunch of dated folders like "2016-05-12" in the folder "Pictures." But if they didn't have date names, I wouldn't bother. A smart collection with say the criteria "date is 2016-05-12" does essentially the same thing. Or filtering on "2016-05-12."
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