How to move image files with Lightroom

Don't Move Image Files or Folders Outside of Lightroom

One of the most repeated mistakes that new and even experienced Lightroom users make is to move files or folders outside of Lightroom. The problem it creates is missing images in Lightroom. The pictures are still on your drive, wherever you moved them, but now Lightroom has no idea where they are. And or course, you can't edit your images if Lightroom can't find them.

After an image, or folder of images, has been moved "not using Lightroom", you'll see an exclamation mark in the upper righthand corner of the thumbnail, as shown below.

Moving Images Using Lightroom

Relocating the files can be easy or a pain, depending on how many times  you've moved them, and often how long ago you moved them. If it was only just recently, it will be easy to know where to find them so you can reconnect the image files with Lightroom. However, if you don't remember moving them, it's encouraging to know that it is still highly likely you will be able to locate the files, but that is the subject for another tutorial.

Today the focus is on showing you how simple it is to move files and folders via Lightroom, so you can avoid seeing the dreaded "missing files" message. If you're seeing those warnings already, here's a great tutorial on how to find those missing files.

"Do" Move Image Files or Folders Within Lightroom

The first thing to do is to start Lightroom. Then go to the Folders panel in the Library module. Go to the files or folders you wish to move, then drag them to the new location. This is the same method to use, whether you are merely moving folders on the same drive, or moving them on to a separate drive.

Using Folders Panel in Lightroom to Move Files

The screenshot above shows that I'm moving the "Samples Child Models" folder, which is on my external drive, to the 2017 Sample Pics folder, which is on my laptop's internal drive.

The time it takes to move the files or folders depends on how many images are in the folder you're moving. Don't worry about the message you receive, warning that the action cannot be undone. That just means you can't hit the "undo" button and have the process reversed. However, you CAN reverse it yourself by simply dragging the folder back to it's original location.

How to move files in Lightroom

If you're more of a visual learner, check out our short video tutorial below illustrating how easy it is to move folders from one drive to another from within Lightroom.

Moving Files in Lightroom Video Tutorial


Do you have any questions or comments about moving files in Lightroom? Leave us a comment below - we would love to hear from you! And please share our tutorial using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!