This is the second of my newbie guides to Lightroom – three weeks ago, on 20th April, I gave a very basic overview of lightroom and talked about how it is a tool for managing your wokflow.  You can read that blog post here:

This week I want to talk about how you bring images into lightroom.

Opening the import dialog box

The open the import dialog box by clicking on the big “Import” but on the bottom left of the library module.

You may also find that inserting a memory card in your computer will cause Lighroom to start automatically and then automatically open the import dialog box.  You can switch that behaviour on and off by going to “Edit | Preferences” and then going to the “General” tab.

Using the import dialog box

There are two versions of the import dialog box.  The compact and the expanded

You can switch between the two using the up/down arrow on the bottom left of the display.

Use the compact version if you are always importing from the same location (Eg a memory card, and your destination location is normally the same.  The compact version is also useful if you are using import presets (saved import settings)

Use the expanded version if you choose different location for either import or destination.  This version is also useful for a visual double check that you are importing the correct images.  And it is the view I recommend most people use.

There are four different import methods.  The method to be used is highlighted at the top of the screen.  Select the method which is most appropriate for your import.  The four options are:

  • Copy as DNG – this converts the raw files to DNG format and places the resultant files in the folder specified on the right hand side of the screen. I recommend the use of the DNG format.  Any images which are not RAW format will be copied and the current format will be retained.  For more information about DNG as a file format please see my blog post from 23 February 2017 –
  • Copy – The files specified will be added to the database and copied to the location specified on the right hand side of the screen.
  • Move – The files are moved to the location specified on the right hand side of the screen.
  • Add – The files are added to the database in their current location.

The panels on the right of the expanded import screen allow you to control the import.  There are four sections:

File Handling

Under normal circumstances you should set “Render Previews” to 1:1 – this means the import overall takes longer but performance will be improved while you work on the images because Lightroom will already have the preview as you view each image.

Typically “Don’t import suspected duplicates” should be left ticked.

If you are importing directly from memory card you may wish to make a second copy of the images as you copy them from the card, for backup purposes.  You should note that these images are copied BEFORE any renaming takes place and before and conversion to DNG.

File Renaming

If you are importing images directly from a memory card this section will enable you to rename the images to match your naming convention.  It is important to develop a naming convention for you images.

You can read a full discussion on naming conventions in my blog post from 10 February 2017 –

This naming convention I recommend in that blog post could be entered as a preset/filename template as follows:

{Date (YYYYMMDD)»}{Shoot Name}-{Custom Text}{Filename number suffix} 

If you use a third party download, which already does the renaming for you, you may choose to leave this section unselected.

Apply During Import

Here you can apply a processing preset and a metadata preset to the images being imported.  You can also apply keywords to the images being imported.

You need to know any preset or keywords specified in this section will be applied to ALL images you are importing.   It is not possible on import to apply keywords and presets to only some of the images you are importing.


In the destination section, you can specify the folder where the images are to be placed on import.  If you are copying or moving the images, the organize dropbox gives you the option to retain the source folder structure or to organise the images by (capture) date.

If you are copying directly from memory card the organize by date option is recommended.  The date format dropdown box enables you to select the folder hierarchy.  My recommendation is yyyy/mm/dd – this puts each days images in its own folder.


I hope you have found the brief overview of the import dialog box useful.  I’ll be continuing this series of newbie guides to Lightroom in a few weeks’ time when I will look at some of the configuration settings you probably want to change.

If you want to learn more about Lightroom, I am running a series of monthly Lightroom training sessions starting this month.  You can find details of all the Lightroom sessions here:

Until next time, keep MAKING and editing great images,