Why, When and How to Use Watched Folders in Lightroom Classic

Why, When and How to Use Watched Folders in Lightroom Classic

One of the lesser-known but very useful features in Lightroom Classic is to set up a watched folders. This feature allows you to instruct Lightroom to watch some particular folder for images and to import them in Lightroom so you can start working on them right away.

In this tutorial, I will explain to you why, when and how to use watched folder feature in Lightroom Classic.

When and why to use watched folders

The very first and obvious question is why use watched folder feature? You can save time and automate import in Lightroom. Some common situations to use the watched folder feature:

  • When scanning photos, Lightroom can automatically move them to a new location and import them in the Lightroom catalog or collection.
  • When using Canon EOS utility, for example, to shoot remotely.
  • When Lightroom Classic doesn’t support your camera for tethered capture.


How to setup watched folders

Watched folder is very convenient in some situations but it is not straight forward as you may think. Before anything else, you must know that the watched folder should be empty. Another requirement in this process is that Lightroom must be instructed where to move photos when they appear in the watched folder.

In short here is the process:

  • Create new or use existing folder which must be empty. If you navigate to the folder with images during the auto-import setup, Lightroom will display an error message.
  • Tell to Lightroom which folder to watch and where to move photos when they appear. Use File > Auto Import > Auto Import Settings.
  • Ensure that File > Auto Import > Enable Auto Import is checked.
  • Put photos in the watched folder.
  • You can always pause/stop auto-import. To pause auto import uncheck File > Auto Import > Enable Auto Import.

Auto Import Settings dialogue

You can access the Auto Import Settings dialogue from the File > Auto Import menu. Here are important options:

  • Enable Auto Import is on the top of the dialogue. Ensure that this option is checked if you want to start the auto-import process immediately.
  • Watched Folder is a folder that you want to watch for photos. Click on the Choose button and navigate to an empty folder.
  • Destination section and its options: 
    • Move To is important option that will instruct Lightroom where to move photos from the watched folder. Click on the Choose button and navigate to the folder where you want to move photos from the watched folder.
    • Subfolder Name is allowing you to give a name to sub-folder which will be created inside the destination folder which is chosen in the previous step. Images will be moved into this sub-folder.
    • Add to Collection is another option that can be useful. After checking this option you will be presented with the option to use existing or to create a new collection.
  • File Naming section is allowing you to automatically rename photos using one of several options that are provided from the drop-down list. You can also access Filename Template Editor if you are an advanced user.
  • Information section is offering a couple of useful options:
    • Develop Settings list is allowing you to apply develop preset to each and every image.
    • Metadata drop-down list is allowing you to apply metadata template or to create new metadata template/preset.
    • Keywords section is allowing you to type custom keywords which will be added to each and every image.
    • Initial Preview drop-down is offering several presets for initial preview of auto imported photos.

Auto Import Settings dialog in Lightroom Classic
Auto Import Settings dialog in Lightroom Classic.


Reference:

Product used in this tutorial:
Photoshop Lightroom Classic 9.1

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