Lightroom only automatically organizes photos (for example, into dated folders) while importing, but if your existing folder structure is a mess, you can tidy it up manually by creating, moving, renaming and deleting folders and photos. While Lightroom doesn’t care where the photos are stored, it does make it easier to back up and move Lightroom.
To create a new folder
To create a brand new folder, go to, or press the + button on the Folders panel and select New Folder. Navigate to the location of your choice.
On Windows, right-click and select New then Folder and type the name of the folder, then press Enter and select the new folder, then press Select Folder.
On a Mac, press the New Folder button in the operating system dialog. Give it a name and press Create. Your new folder is created on the hard drive and automatically selected in the operating system dialog, so press Choose to add it to Lightroom.
If the new folder already exists on the hard drive, but you want to add it to Lightroom, go to Select Folder (Windows) / Choose (Mac). If the folder is empty, it’s added to the Folders panel. If there are already photos in the folder, Lightroom opens the Import dialog. In this case, you’ll need to import at least one photo to add the folder to the Folders panel.and navigate to the folder, then press
If you’re creating a new subfolder, and the parent folder already exists in the Folders panel, it’s even easier. Right-click on the parent folder and select Create Folder Inside *. Enter the subfolder name and press Create. If you have photos selected at the time, you can automatically move them to the new subfolder by checking the Include Selected Photos checkbox.
To move a folder
Moving folders into other folders is simply a drag-and-drop operation, just like Explorer (Windows) / Finder (Mac). Select the folders in the Folders panel and drag them onto another folder in the Folders panel. The destination folder is highlighted in blue, showing where the folders will land when you release the mouse.
Selecting a parent folder automatically moves all of its subfolders too. To move multiple separate folders, Ctrl-click (Windows) / Cmd-click (Mac) to select individual folders or Shift-click to select a series of folders, then drag and drop as normal.
To rename and delete existing folders
If you right-click on an existing folder, you’ll find additional options such as Rename and Delete.
When you rename a folder, it’s also renamed on your hard drive. Deleting an empty folder also deletes it from the hard drive. If you try to delete a folder containing photos, it removes the photos from your catalog (losing all the work you’ve done in Lightroom), but the photos remain on the hard drive.
To move photos between folders
Moving photos between folders on the same hard drive is also a simple drag and drop operation:
- Select the photos
- Grab them by the thumbnail (not the grey border)
- Drag them and drop them onto a folder in the Folders panel
(This works very well for rearranging photos on your hard drive, or moving just a few photos to a new hard drive. If you’re moving large numbers of photos to a new hard drive, I’d recommend these instructions instead.)
If you’re moving photos into a dated folder structure, Lightroom won’t do it automatically for photos that have already been imported, but it can help. We’ll learn how in next week’s post.