Lightroom Classic: Why isn't the Folders panel available in the Develop Module?

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  • Updated 7 months ago
  • (Edited)
My Lr students ask this all the time. The sources of images have to come from Collections once you have entered the Develop Module. This seems to create a needless series of mouse moves, keyboard shorts and/or clicks to change the source of the images we want to edit.
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Steve Gandy

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Posted 7 months ago

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Rob Davidson

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Yes, definitely a good idea, and seems simple to do!
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Joel Weisbrod

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I teach my students to use the Filmstrip Bar which keeps track of recent folders and is available in every module.
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Marco Klompalberts

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I started using this a little while ago and it works perfect for me.
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Steve Gandy

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That is good, I had forgotten it but it only works for 'recent' folders.
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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I teach my students to use collections to organise their images, so they do not have to use the folder panel at all. Collections and smart collections are a much more powerful way to organise images, with the added bonus that they are available in all modules. My folder panel is collapsed 98% of the time.
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David Converse

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I would have to add every image to its own Collection. Collections are close to worthless for me. YMMV.
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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Really? Do you also add each image to its own folder? I assume not. You could create a collection hierarchy which mirrors you folder hierarchy. And as you can add images to a collection on import, it wouldn’t take any extra effort to do this.
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Steve Gandy

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Collections work for some and not for others. And there is a continuum between the two extreme positions. Why limit its use for those that like their folder hierarchies? 
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David Converse

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Each folder would require a Collection. I have over 350,000 images in my Lightroom Catalog, with a few thousand folders. I do NOT want to manage Collections as well as folders.
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Roelof Moorlag

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It is the way Adobe designed it, so it’s on purpose. They wanted you not to organize old school with folders but (smart) collections and (hierachical) Keywords instead.
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Steve Gandy

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And yet Lr requires that you place your images into a particular folder structure on new imports. And, alsoi requires that you know where your images are located to add existing images to the database.
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Philippe Coudé du Foresto

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Lr is designed to manage images, not files. Granted, computers can only store files, so images are sored in computer files.
But in a photographer point a vue, it's the image that matter, not the file, hence the LR design.
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Steve Gandy

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OK, so instead of asking why I should have said "why not"? Will it hurt your feelings? Or cost you time?
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David Converse

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Poor design. I REALLY preferred how Aperture handled the UI and file organization but of course we couldn't have that.
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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And yet Aperture did not use folders at all for organising images...
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Steve Gandy

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It did, and Photos still does. Apple just thinks the users are too dumb to keep up.
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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No, it did not. It used Projects (which had no relation to physical folders on your disk) and Albums (which are the same as collections in Lightroom). Even if you used a referenced library, projects did not necessarily match the physical folders. You could mirror them by name, but moving an image from one project to another did not move the image from one folder to another.
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Steve Gandy

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If you look inside the Aperture or the Photos package file, you'll find the folders. They are confusing and hidden but they are there. It is basically a dated hierarchy which is exactly what Lr prefers as well. Lr is a referenced database and I happen to like that. I like being able to browse to my 2019 folder. I think it is obtuse that Lr allows it in the Library Module but hides it everywhere else.
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David Converse

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I used referenced folders in Aperture so switching to Lightroom was just a matter of using the same folders.
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Jeffrey Bondono

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I agree completely with the original request.  Why take folders away when I'm developing my photos?  If that's the view I wish to use, why can't I use it, especially since those folders are the ones named with date-of-capture during import by default, so my 14 days of vacation photos are in 14 different folders by default, and in no collections by default?
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Marco Klompalberts

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But the good thing is you can change that default behaviour.
I only have a couple of folders and I never let Lightroom create folders named with date of capture.
Instead I name the photos Capturedate (YearMonthDay)_[extra info if needed]_original filenumber.

And whether a file is in a folder with the capture date or has the date in the filename or none of these two options, smart collections are able to filter for any date or daterange.
Or use a keyword like "vacation2019Florida" and have a smart collection show you only those.

I can see how folders can be useful and can't think of why not to show them in the Develop module.
But for me, collections are so much more flexible.
I'll let Lightroom show me the photos I need to see without having to know where on my harddisk they are.
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Jeffrey Bondono

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Yes, I know the workarounds and of course I use them since I'm forced to, but why am I forced into this?  My comment is just agreement with OP's request that Adobe stop crippling the Develop Module in this way.  There's really no justification that I can think of.
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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Perhaps it’s a good idea to reconsider changing those defaults, instead of hoping that one day Adobe might honor this request. Adapting your workflow to what Lightroom offers and does not offer can be done today. Waiting till Adobe adapts Lightroom to your workflow will take much longer.
First of all, do you really need 14 folders to store the results of a 14 day vacation? Wouldn’t one folder (sorted by capture date) be enough? That means you do not have to switch folders while editing the vacation images. Even if you use dated folders, you don’t have to create folders for each day. You can also only create year and month folders. 
Secondly you can add all your photos to a special ‘My Whatever Vacation’ collection on import. It may not be the default, but you only need to set that up the first day. Lightroom will remember this the next days you import photos, and you can create import presets to store such settings. This means all your vacation photos will be in one collection, and that collection is also accessible in the develop module.
Try it, you might like it.
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Jeffrey Bondono

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This is terribly wrongful thinking.  Adobe should adapt Lightroom to suit every photographer's workflow rather than every photographer changing their workflow or performing extra steps (change default import procedure, Create keywords when I don't necessarily want them, create a smart collection with the appropriate filters), all to conform to a silly Lightroom Develop-Module deficiency which would be trivially simple for Adobe to fix.  If there was justification for removal of the folder panel in Dev module, I'd understand better why i need to go through these silly extra steps.  But this seems to me to just be an intentional irritant artificially built into Lightroom. 
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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I disagree. Adobe cannot possibly adapt Lightroom to suit every single photographer on the planet. Lightroom is a tool. When you have a job to do, you find the best tool and use it as designed. You don’t ask the manufacturer to change the tool so it suits you. That would be great, but not very realistic.


Mind you, I am not saying that Adobe should disregard this request. I am just saying that it makes sense to try to find a workflow that is optimal for the tool you’ve got. At least until Adobe does adapt Lightroom.
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Jeffrey Bondono

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If this was for something like adding the ability to edit keywords or comments in the develop module, I would agree with your sentiment.  Those are things that would be awkward to fit into the workflow or difficult to implement within the develop module.  However, stopping the senseless removal of the folders panel is simple to achieve, is easy to understand as useful workflow, and would make default behavior of lightroom useable across the board.  The senseless removal of a working feature that everyone uses at some point in their workflow, and therefore everyone understands, should not be defended. 
(Edited)
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Steve Gandy

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Well said, Jeffrey, please add a vote to the top of the page.
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Edmund Gall

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I suppose I can see it from both sides. I'm wondering if this is an example of an old design decision that happened ages ago, that no-one can remember, and no-one's ever thought to do it differently.

Perhaps, Adobe's thinking was that we'd most likely be working on a group of photos together, so we'd choose that group (whether collection or folder) and then switch to the module for the task we wish to perform on them (e.g. Develop, Print, etc.) and move between photos in that group via the filmstrip at the bottom. Minimising the amount of panels on the edges of your working window (which is where you perform the task(s)) would be the best use of limited screen space in the old days.

However, since Adobe first created LR, the resolution and screen sizes have increased significantly. So, if old screen specs were the root cause for this design decision, perhaps it's time for Adobe to consider how to optimise its apps' UIs for the specs of today - at least for LR Classic users - e.g. by offering a (potentially optional?) collapsable panel on the edge of all Modules containing all folders in the catalog.

In Photoshop, a user can display as many tools as they'd like permanently in panels around their working pane. So: why not just use the same principle and offer users the ability to have a collapsable Folders panel in both LR and PS, that they can open when they wish (for small screens) or leae open permanently (for larger screens)?

There may be a small risk of unintended consequences (mistakenly clicking the wrong folder?), but at least now we won't have to create collections in order to do work in the Print Module when it involves photos from different folders...
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john beardsworth

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The thinking was that Lightroom was for a more narrowly-defined workflow than Photoshop, with a series of workspaces dedicated to what the typical photographer would be doing at a certain point in the typical workflow. So in the Library workspace, you had tools for organisation, including physical storage location (Folders panel) and for the logical grouping and gathering (Collections panel). As far as I remember, screen sizes weren't relevant - people had big/multiple screens back then - and fundamentally the typical workflow hasn't changed.

Going back to the original question, it's because the underlying design is that Folders are for managing the physical storage aspects of DAM, but Collections are for gathering and grouping and doing stuff. Teach the pupils half a dozen desktop shortcuts, show them how to use Favorite Sources (as well as Recent Sources mentioned above) and steer them away from butterfly-like flipping between folders or using folders for anything other than physical storage aspects. While I might be wrong, I doubt Adobe would now add Folders to the workspace where people typically focus on adjustment.

As a point of detail, it was only in Lr2 that Adobe added Collections to the output workspaces (Slideshow, Print, Web) and in Lr3 that collections were added to Develop. 
(Edited)
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Steve Gandy

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My point is that it ought to be a personal choice which organization tool to use; collections or folders.  I for one, use both depending upon the circumstances.

All the functions for hiding and collapsing panels are already in the code. Why not let the users decide how to work?

from above:  Folders are for managing the physical storage aspects of DAM, but Collections are for gathering and grouping and doing stuff

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john beardsworth

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Because they often make suboptimal decisions? There's a "normative" angle to how Lightroom was designed.
(Edited)
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Edmund Gall

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Agreed that there's a normative angle to the design. However, norms change over time. Presumably Adobe has means to regularly assess the level of change in how its customers actually use their products as well as how they'd prefer to use their products, and then feeds that into their design decision-making process. Such as via this forum. If there are enough users who desire the ability to change folders on the fly within the modules apart from Library, then that should be taken into account.

Regarding the "suboptimal decisions" rationale, though, I think Adobe would be pretty disingenuous to think it should NOT provide options for users to control their applications' interface because of the risk users may make suboptimal decisions. That, on the face of it, seems to smack of a level of arrogance that shouldn't exist in an organisation whose continued existence depends on financial support of their customer base...
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john beardsworth

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I just don't think the core LR workflow has changed much, and it's still a much more narrowly-defined workflow than the wide variety of things that people have always wanted to do with other Adobe apps  like PS and PremierePro.
It's not arrogance but deciding what makes for the best workflow.
Learn a few shortcuts, take advantage of recent and favourite sources, and the Folders panel's duplication in Develop really isn't needed, and might well encourage bad habits.
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David Converse

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The modal design is user-hostile and a pain in my butt. I HATE it. Maybe it was coming from Aperture which was pretty much superior all around in the UI? Its just one stupid thing after another with LR.
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David Converse

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Well, so I'm saying I DISAGREE WITH ADOBE'S DESIGN DECISIONS. It could and should be easier. This isn't "per image" metadata, this is for an entire photoshoot at once.

You also ignored my other critiques. Which as i noted, are far from the only problems.

And as I noted, it worked better in Aperture. The Lightroom UI sucks and these are just a few examples.
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john beardsworth

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I dealt with one "side issue" more than thoroughly, and the rest were equally "irrelevant to the OP". But let's go all misty-eyed at the mention of Aperture, yawn.


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David Converse

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You didn't address anything factual, you just expounded on your imaginary knowledge of how Adobe wants us to use Lightroom. That's a big heap of fail, dude.
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Roelof Moorlag

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Twitter etiquette i see?
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john beardsworth

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See if you can dig out a c2007 video from UI designer Phil Clevenger and stuff written by Jeff Schewe about that time. But it might be more consoling to believe your alternative facts!