Most Lightroom users import photos created by their digital cameras using Lightroom’s Import dialog to copy and organize the files. However, when using a scanner the saving process typically bypasses Lightroom’s import dialog making it necessary manually import them to add them to Lightroom’s catalog. This system is okay if you only have a few scans. But when you’re working on a large scanning job, manual imports are a PITA. Fortunately the designers of Lightroom created a system for automatically importing scans that makes the process painless.
One of the coolest overlooked features in Lightroom since the earliest days is Watched Folder. It enables you to designate a folder for Lightroom to watch. Anything added to that folder is automatically imported by Lightroom and moved to the location of your choice. You can even rename and add keywords on the fly.
Here’s how to setup Lightroom to automatically import files from your scanner:
- In Lightroom’s Library module, choose File > Auto Import > Auto Import Settings. When you do, the Auto Import Settings dialog opens, shown in Figure 1.
- Make sure Enable Auto Import is selected.
- Click the Choose button in the Watched Folder section to create a folder that will temporarily hold the scans. In my case I created a folder on my Desktop named “Scans Temp”. Be advised that the watched folder must be empty at the start or Lightroom won’t use it.
- Click the Choose button in the Destination section to designate a permanent location for the scans. This locations can be changed on a job-by-job basis. In my case I was scanning some old 4×5 negatives of a job I shot years ago of the Fairmount Hotel in San Antonio. I’m saving them to a folder named “Fairmount Hotel” in my Pictures folder.
- Change the File Naming template to Custom Name – Sequence (or whatever naming template you desire) and then type the custom name you want to use into the text box. Set the starting number to what you want it to be.
- Use the information section to add useful keywords and metadata.
- Set the Initial Previews size to Standard or 1:1.
- Click OK.
Now you’re set and ready to go in Lightroom. All you have to do to make it work is designate the watched folder in your scanner’s software as the place to save new scans. Then each new scan will be added temporarily to the watched folder and then automatically moved to the destination folder, renamed, and keyworded.