Showing the Folder Hierarchy… take 2

Since there have been some behaviour changes since I last wrote about setting up Lightroom’s folder panel to show your tidy tree structure, let’s do a quick re-run to replace the previous instructions…

Does your folder list look like this?

No Hierarchy

And would you actually prefer to see the folder hierarchy up to a higher level, like this?

Full Hierarchy

Apart from the fact it looks nice and tidy, it makes it very easy to relink missing folders when you change hard drives, accidentally rename a parent folder outside of Lightroom, so forth. You only ever have to relink the highest level folder, and subfolders will update themselves.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to reimport your whole library. There’s a much easier way of showing Lightroom the parent folders.

1.  Put a ‘temporary’ image into your new top level folder – in this case the ‘STUDIO’ folder.

2.  Go to File > Import Photos from Disk and import that ‘temporary’ image.

3.  Your folders panel should now be showing all of your folders in their correct hierarchy, reflecting the folder structure on disc.

4.  You can now delete that ‘temporary’ image, and your new folder hierarchy should be left intact.


7 Responses to Showing the Folder Hierarchy… take 2

  1. […] Showing the Folder Hierarchy Due to behaviour changes, particularly in the Windows version of Lightroom, I’ve updated the instructions, which can now be found at […]

  2. Dunkirk says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Dunkirk.

  3. Bob Evans says:

    Have found your site very helpful, as I have been reading all the Lightroom forums and regarding files offline and missing and until now have found it all very confusing.
    I have a large library of aerial photographs and Lightrooms seems to be the best solution to processing and cataloging my images.
    My mistake was to tidy up files out of Lightroom, which had caused a great deal of stress and worry. Many thanks for your assistance.

  4. Hi Bob, I’m glad to hear it helped a bit. Are you all sorted now? Drop by if you’re still stick, and we’ll give you a hand.

  5. Bob Evans says:

    Hi Victoria Yes things seem to working ok at present, but stiil have a long way to go
    before I feel confident. I will keep in touch with the Lightroom Forum as you have suggested, Many thanks.

  6. DHF says:

    I am so confused with this crazy LR. I had pics categorized by type ie: Macro,Nature,Family with some subfolders. When I imported I ended up with a crazy layout of folders–not listed by higher parents. When trying to organize I lost some pics. I thought they got backed up on import but can’t find them. It says something about a Temporary Collection as folder location. I tried syncing. No luck. Am I going to get a new folder listed in folders on every import. If you just import by date how do you know what that import has in it?I have watched many tutorials and can’t get a handle on how to lay out LR. Should you only use Collections to categorize pics? I need help or I am going to trash this 200 dollar program.

    [Hi DHF. If you have your pictures nicely categorized, you could just import with the import dialog set to ‘Add to Catalog at the Existing Location’ and it’ll keep them in the same folders. You can use Collections or Keywords to sort your pictures, but you can also use Folders if that suits the way your brain works better. Drop by and we’ll get you sorted out in no time. It’s a great program once you understand how it thinks. – VB]

  7. Ivan says:

    Victoria will the above process work if I’ve just copied all my images (~95000) from a Drobo drive (Designated Z:\) to a new eSATA array (Designated H:\) on the same PC
    Right now all folders are showing ??, in Lightroom. I don’t seem to have a way to indicate to lightroon (2.3) the new drive. Unfortunately I also did not take the opportunity to copy all the folders under a “parent” directory .
    Thus i would firstly like to point this existing catalog to the new drive and secondly place all the folders under one parent directory.
    Any advice would be welcome.

    [Hi Ivan, sorry, don’t check in on this blog very often anymore, as it’s moved to

    You’ve got the right idea – you’re going to have to relink each missing parent folder first, and once you’ve done that, you can set it to show the hierarchy.

    Being that it’s just the drive letter that’s changed, the quickest way would be to use Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Disk Management to swap the drive letters temporarily, set up the parent folder, and then set the drive letters to their permanent letters. That way you’ll only have one parent folder to relink. – VB]

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