Lightroom Tips – Renaming Files on Import

If you’ve got lots of images that you want to manage then you’ll probably want to have some sort of consistent naming convention for your files, which will ensure each of your images has a unique reference rather than rely on the camera generated filename, especially if you’re likely to change cameras or use more than one body at the same time.

Of course, you can do all of this in the operating system, or you can batch raname files in Adobe Bridge but you’ve got to remember to do that before you start doing anything with the images – like backing up files with the wrong names to another disk or the cloud (very annoying!).

Lightroom import window showing File Renaming on the right
Lightroom import window showing File Renaming on the right

Fortunately, it’s easy to rename your files automatically if you import them direct from the memory card into Lightroom.  With your card reader in the machine, head along to the Lightroom library and hit the Import button – you’ll get an import window like the one above, where you can expand the File Renaming tab on the right hand side.

Filename Template Editor
Filename Template Editor

Click in the Template box and pick Edit… to open up the Filename Template Editor.  Here you can customise the format of your filename to suit your own requirements including fixed text and sequence numbers.  I just use my initials and a five digit image number to keep the image reference short and simple – just type in the text and pick Image # (00001) from the Numbering drop-down and click Insert.  Above the template box there is an example showing the next filename that will be assigned.  When you’re finished, click Done and then click Import at the bottom right of the import window to start importing your images.

LR_Library
Newly imported images in the Lightroom library

Once it’s finished, the new images will be in the library, renamed to match your filename template.  The best thing is, once it’s set up, all subsequent imports will use the same template and the image number will just continue from where it left off in the previous import so you can just forget about it and not have to remember to rename your files ever again!

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