The Great Organizing in Lightroom FAQ Post for Digi Scrappers


I did a post just over a year ago that gave a run down of how I organize my kit previews in Lightroom. Since that time, I often get questions via email and The Digi Show about my system. I decided I needed to do a little update and share some of the questions and the things I have learned.

I love using Lightroom to organize my previews and now my photos too, but that doesn’t mean that it will work for you. There is a different system that will work for each person. Don’t be afraid to try a few out until you find the one that works for you. I have been digital since 2003 and have tried several different systems. Some worked better than others, but Lightroom was the first one that I have been excited about using and keeping up.

This post will answer the organization questions I get. I will do another post down the road that will share my editing process.

Check out our Organization section for more ideas, systems, and programs that might work for you. We also have a Lightroom section here. Katie and I even had a Lightroom Showdown once.

Q- I bought Lightroom 4 as a Christmas gift to myself. I’ve imported all of my photos and have been itching to import my digi supplies. From watching Kayla’s videos it appears she has her photos and supplies in the same catalog. Is that what you have done or do you have separate catalogs for your photos and supplies? From one of your videos on TDD is appears you have them separate.

A-When I first started using Lightroom, I couldn’t imagine having my supplies and photos in one database. It sounded like it would be a big mess; so I put them in different databases. The problem is that it actually takes a long time to switch from one database to the other, so I ended up merging the two databases. I actually find it pretty easy to keep under control.

Q-Is there a reason you import all of your supplies and not just your previews if you’re only tagging previews? I know you only tag previews, and that’s what I would like to do as well.

A-When I decided to use Lightroom to organize my previews, one of the main reasons was because it would be fast. I could have gone through every single folder and just pulled out the previews, but I didn’t want to take that much time. I imported all files that Lightroom could read (jpegs, tiffs, and PSDs) that were in my main supply folder (the folders within folders, etc.). Then, I was able to set up the smart collection I talk about in this post to filter out my previews.

Recently, I decided there must be a way to delete all of those digital supplies and there is! I did some Googling and found this tutorial. Here’s what I did:


I selected the Smart Collection: Without Keywords. I don’t remember if I created that or if it is a default collection. If it’s not a default collection, you can create it using these settings:


Then, select Grid View and set the sorting to Added Order:


This will make selecting all of the supplies super easy because they will all be together. Just click on the first item, then shift+click on the last supply you see.

Create a tag “to remove” and add to the selected supplies. Repeat until all of the supplies have been tagged. Then, select that tag by clicking on it in the keyword list on the right:


CTRL+A to select all of the images with that tag. Right click> Delete Photos> Remove (NOT delete). This will remove it from the library, but not delete it from the harddrive.

Q-Do you open your supplies into PS from LR or do you just use LR to find what you want on your HD and then go to the HD to open it?

A-I look for supplies in Lightroom by searching through the Previews (select the Preview keyword), then right click on the preview and select Show in Explorer:


Then, when the Explorer window opens, I drag and drop the supplies I want from there into PhotoShop.

Q-Steph, i totally changed my way of organizing my digital supplies after you shared about lightroom and saving previews. I did great with the initial transfer of everything. My next save of previews after that kind of was a mess… Anyway, i wondered how it was still working out for you being organized in Lightroom? Have you learned anything new? Tagged anything else beyond previews?

A-Yes, I still love using Lightroom to tag my previews and my photos now too, but not any supplies! It is a system that works for me; I look forward to tagging my purchases. I know it’s not a solution for everyone though.

I have learned a few things that make subsequent imports easier.

I no longer organize my supplies in my folders by designers. I start folder called “New (date)” then download everything to that folder until you are ready to import. When you have unzipped all of the folders inside that folder and are ready to import, click Import and then navigate to that folder in the side bar. All Lightroom compatible files will pop up in the window. I then check the box on all of the previews and make sure everything else are unchecked. In the keyword box type “Previews” so that keyword is automatically added. You can then add keywords to all of those previews based on how your organize.

If you don’t have everything in one folder though and do want to keep organizing supplies in your folders, just click import and select your supply folder. Go through and select just the previews, add “Previews” to the keyword box and then import.

If the import you have done is mixed together with your older stuff, click on your preview smart collection, then under the window where you view your previews, you see the word Sort: click the little triangles there and select “added order”.


In my LR it puts the most recent on the bottom. You can then see everything that doesn’t have other tags, select them by CTRL+clicking on them or SHIFT+clicking the first and the last one. Then, you can add the other tags as you want.

Q-I moved some supplies and now Lightroom says they can’t be found. What should I do?

A-If you don’t move files and folders in Lightroom and do it in your folders instead, Lightroom doesn’t know to where to find them. Question marks will show up on the files and on the folders in the Navigator window:


Select the files or folder in the Navigator window, just right click on the folder and select “Update Folder Location”.

Q-I’m still trying to figure Lightroom out. Do you import all your folders in to light room or just the ones you are working on?

A-To organize my previews, I imported everything in my scrapbook downloads folder. Now, I just import new stuff in batches. As far as photos, I did a big import a long time ago, but haven’t finished yet. Now that I am also doing all of my editing in Lightroom, I have been importing the newest stuff as I need something off that memory card.

Q-How do I move my whole lightroom database from one ehd to another? I’ve been trying to figure this out for weeks and cannot find an answer that is easy for me to understand. Thanks!!

A-I haven’t ever done it (I don’t think), but there is a bunch of information about managing a Lightroom database (including moving it) here.

I think that wraps it up. If this brings up questions for you or you have questions that weren’t answered here, leave them in the comments, I will be here answering them today. 🙂