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Post Production Tips

How to Import Images from a Hard Drive into Lightroom 4

By Pye Jirsa on March 25th 2013

The following is an excerpt from the SLR Lounge Lightroom Workflow System Workshop on DVD, a system designed to increase your post production speed by 5 to 10 times. Click here to view more details.

Introduction

In a previous tutorial, we talked about how to import images from a memory card into Lightroom 4. Now we are going to discuss how to import images from other locations, like a hard drive, into Lightroom 4. Let’s say you want to drag your images from a memory card, drop them onto your hard disk, and then pull the images into Lightroom. I would not really recommend this process; however, if you want to import your images this way, then follow the proper steps that will be covered in this tutorial. In this particular tutorial, we will be putting our images onto the Desktop, but you can choose any location on your hard drive.

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Organizing and Creating our Folders

As you can see below, the first thing we need to do is to open our Finder Window to access the Local Disk.

01_lightroom-4-import-images-from-hard-drive-finder-window

Next, we want to open up a second Finder Window so that we can see two different locations. Simply hit “Ctrl + N” to create a second Finder Window. Then put these two windows side by side, as shown below.

02_lightroom-4-create-new-finder-window

Next, we are going to create a New Folder on the Desktop in the left Finder Window. To create a new folder, simply right-click in the Finder Window, select “New” and then “Folder.” In the right Finder Window, select your memory card location. As you can see below, we are creating a New Folder on the Desktop in the left Finder Window and we have selected the memory card location in the right Finder Window.

03_create-new-folder-desktop

Next, name the folder on the Desktop. Below, I have named the folder “Temporary Import.”

04_name-new-folder-desktop

Once you have created and named your folder on the Desktop, it is important to divide your memory cards. Double-click on the “Temporary Import” folder and create separate folders for each memory card you have. In our example below, we have 6 separate folders for each memory card in the “Temporary Import” folder.

05_memory-card-folders-desktop-folder

Then, simply drag and drop your images from each memory card into the folders. So for example, insert your first memory card. In the right Finder Window, select all of your images from that memory card and drag them into the “Card 1” folder. As you can see below, we have selected the images from the first memory card in the right Finder Window and then dragged the images into the “Card 1” folder. Now, load in your next memory card and do the same. Continue doing this for the remaining memory cards.

06_copy-images-to-card-1

Why is it Important to Divide the Memory Cards into Separate Folders?

The reason why need to divide the memory cards into separate folders is because your file system has no way of recognizing duplicate images. If the file name of an image is the exact same, the file will be treated as a duplicate. When you are copying your images from the memory cards to the hard drive, Windows will then ask you if you want to Replace, Copy, Overwrite, or Rename this file. The problem is, if that file is not a duplicate and you end up replacing it, you have just deleted that image and replaced it with another image. If the images are duplicates, then you are using extra space on your hard drive. Therefore, it is important to organize your images into different folders for each card. We will let Lightroom decide which images are duplicates once we have all of our images transferred over from the memory cards.

Bringing Images into Lightroom

Now that we have transferred all of our images from our memory cards onto the Desktop, we can go into Lightroom to import our images. To import our images, hit the “Import” button on the bottom left of Lightroom.

07_import-images-lightroom-4

The Import Dialogue Box will now appear. On the upper left hand corner of the dialogue box, select your hard drive location. Select the folder you created, which would be “Temporary Import” in our example. Then check “Include Subfolders” so that Lightroom will read every subfolder. As you can see below, we have selected the Desktop to import our images from. “Include Subfolders” is checked and the “Temporary Import” folder is selected.

08_import-dialogue-box-desktop-include-subfolders

Next, head over to the right side of the Import Dialogue Box. Under the File Handling Panel, check “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates.” By checking this, Lightroom will automatically detect any duplicate images and will not import the duplicates. Now, since we are on the hard drive, we want to move our images from the hard drive to the correct location. Select “Move” at the top of the Import Dialogue Box. Next, choose your standard import preset (created in a previous tutorial) from the Import Preset dropdown menu located at the bottom of the Import Dialogue Box. Then, select the destination of your imported images in the Destination Panel. As you can see below, “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” has been checked and our duplicate images are grayed out, which means they will not be imported. We have also selected a folder under the Destination Panel for our imported images. Finally, we have selected “Move” at the top of the dialogue box so Lightroom will move the images to the location we selected.

09_move-images-into-lightroom-duplicates-not-imported

Now, just hit “Import” to import your images into Lightroom. The “Import” button can be found on the bottom right of the Import Dialogue Box.

10_import-images-import-dialogue-box

Deleting Folders

Once you have imported your images to Lightroom, go back to the Desktop and select the “Temporary Import” folder. Now, we can delete this folder and all of the memory card folders within the “Temporary Import” folder because we know that Lightroom has imported every image from these memory card folders. Whatever images left in the memory card folders are duplicate images that we will not need. Simply select the “Temporary Import” folder and hit “Delete” on your keyboard to remove these folders.

Conclusion & Learn More!

Hopefully this tutorial has helped you understand how to import images off of any location that is not a memory card. First, transfer everything from the memory cards into separate folders on the hard drive. Then, let Lightroom move the images into the folder selected. Delete anything else remaining so that everything else is removed from the hard drive. If you need to import images directly from a memory card, please refer to our previous tutorial.

To learn more about the SLR Lounge Workflow System Workshop on DVD or to purchase it, click on this link.

To purchase the Lightroom 4 Workshop Collection which includes A-Z Tutorials, the Preset System, and Workflow DVD, click here.

About

Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

Follow my updates on Facebook and my latest work on Instagram both under username @pyejirsa.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Brandon Dewey

    Great Info

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