Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
The first thing you'll do after launching Lightroom for the first time is to import some photos. I suggest you start by importing the existing photos that I recommended you organize into folders on a drive. That way you'll have a folder structure already reflected in Lightroom's Folders panel when you're ready to import new photos from your camera's memory card later. I'll cover the steps for importing from an internal or external drive here and later we'll talk about how to import from a camera memory card, which is slightly different. There are no exercise files for this movie and I'm working here in the empty default Lightroom Catalog that's made automatically the first time you launch Lightroom.
Since I want to assimulate what you'll experience when you bring your own files into Lightroom. For the first time. So if you're following along just use some personal files that are already on your computer or on an external drive. I'm going to start here in Lightroom by clicking the Import button at the bottom of the library module or you could go up to the file menu and choose Import Photos and Video. Either way that opens Lightroom's import window. You can work through this window from left to right. So let's start here on the left in the source panel.
Here I want to navigate to the photos and videos that I want to import. The wide bars in the source panel. This one and this one. Represent the drives that are currently online for this computer. Now, before I open Lightroom, I organize my photos and video clips into a parent folder that I called Lightroom photos. And I put that folder and all of its sub-folders on my external working drive. So I'm going to navigate to my working drive, clicking the arrow to the left of it and there's my Lightroom Photos Parent folder.
I'll click the arrow to the left of that and you can see the your folders and here are some of the shoot subfolders. I'm going to click on the parent folder, Lightroom Photos. Now here in the center if you see this message, no photos found. It's because this check box include subfolders is not checked. To remedy that, just check Include subfolders and that should stay checked for the next time that you import. And now here in the center of the window, you can see thumbnails of the photos in all of the sub folders inside my Lightroom Photos folder.
To see more of these thumbnails, I'll go down to the Thumbnail slider and I'll drag it to the left to make the thumbnails smaller. And I also have a scroll bar here that I could use to scroll down to see other photos. I usually import all my photos and then I call through them or edit through them later in Lightroom. But if there are some that you really don't want to import, you can uncheck them here like this. Or if you wanted to uncheck a whole range of photos you can click on one and then hold the Shift key and click on another and then uncheck any one of them.
Or if you wanted to not import photos that weren't next to one another here, you could select a photo and then hold down the Ctrl key in Windows, the Cmd key on MAC. And click on another photo and un-check any one of them. But I do want to import all of these photos so I'll go down to the Check All button and click Check All to re-check them again. Now the next thing that I'm going to say is really important and that is to remember to look at the top of this window where you see the label add, move copy and copy as DNG.
This is where you will go to tell Lightroom what you want to do with the photos that you're importing. Because I've already put all of these photos where I want them to remain on external hard drive, there's no need to move or copy or copy as DNG. I just want to leave these photos where they are and add a record of each photo to my Lightroom Catalog. So I want to select Add up here. Notice that if I were to select one of these other options say Move or Copy or Copy as DNG. That would bring up another panel down here in the right side of the window, the destination panel where would I have to choose a destination for my moved or copied files. But because I'm not copying or moving anything, I'm just adding information about the photos to my catalog.
When I choose Add, I don't get that destination panel and I don't have to deal with that. So all that's left to do is to go over to the column on the right and take a look at the File Handling panel. Here I can choose the size of the previews that Lightroom will build for me as it's importing these photos into the catalog. If I were in a hurry, I could choose Minimal for the fastest possible import. But if I choose minimal, later when I want to zoom in to a photo in the library module to evaluate it's details, I'll have to wait while Lightroom builds a larger preview at that point. Since I'm importing just a few files now, I'm going to go with the larger preview and it shouldn't take too long.
The largest preview I could choose it 1:1or often I'll go with a compromise of standard preview. That will build me a preview that is 1140 pixels on the longest edge by default. And you can go into Light Room's catalog settings and change that number to up to 2,880, which you might want to do if you are working on a large monitor with a larger screen resolution. The catalog settings where you'll find that option are located in the Lightroom menu on a MAC and in the Edit menu on a PC.
But I'll just leave that at standard for now and I'll continue to go through the settings in the column on the right. I'm not interested in building smart previews of these photos. Later I'll explain how and why you might want to build smart previews. I don't have any photos in this catalogue yet so there's no reason to worry about importing suspected duplicates. And I don't want to make a second copy of these particular files. So I'll move down to the apply during Import panel. And I'll expand that by clicking on its title bar.
Any options that I choose in this panel will be applied to all the photos I'm importing. So I'm usually very conservative here. I hardly ever will apply develop settings which will change the appearance of all the photos. Like these develop settings for black and white presets. I'll leave that set to none. If I had taken all these photos, I might go to the Metadata menu here, choose New and in the dialogue box that opens. Set up my own copyright and contact information to apply to all the photos. But some of these photos were taken by my partner John Lorenz.
And some by my so there is no common metadata that I want to apply to all of them. And the same goes for keywords. These photos were taken at different times in different shoots and so there really is no keyword that would apply to all of them. So I'll leave all of that blank as well. Now if I wanted to apply the same options in the future to different photos, I could save these all as an import preset by coming down to this menu. Clicking here and choosing Save Current Settings as New Preset. And then I could name this preset import from drive with add.
And click Create. And then next time I wanted to apply all these settings rather then go through them one by one as we just did. I could just come to this menu and choose the import from drive with add preset. Finally it's time to click the Import button. That switches me back to Lightroom's Library module, closing the Import window. Up here at the top left you can see a progress bar that tells me that Lightroom is still building those standard previews that I selected. But it's already finished the initial part of the import.
So we can see here in the Library module a thumbnail of each one of the photos that I've just imported into this Lightroom catalog. So that's the process for importing photos in place from a drive, whether that's an external drive like the working drive I just used or your computer's internal drive. If you've already imported the exercise files for this course, this process will be familiar to you. Now you'll follow these same steps when you're doing your initial import of existing photos into your Lightroom catalog.
Or if you prefer to off load photos from your camera to a drive manually rather than using Lightroom to import photos from your camera directly into Lightroom. And by the way, that's what I'm going to be showing you how to do next. Import photos from your camera right into Lightroom.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
164 Video lessons · 53466 Viewers
64 Video lessons · 86021 Viewers
86 Video lessons · 55508 Viewers
148 Video lessons · 92828 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.