Creating and Using Watched Folders, Tethering a Digital Camera

by Mikkel Aaland

By enabling Lightroom's Auto Import feature from the menu bar, you can automatically import photos into the Lightroom Library module using a designated watched folder. Let's see how to set up and use this feature.

Start by enabling Auto Import from the file menu. Then:

Figure 2-41
  1. Choose File→Auto Import→Auto Import Settings.
  2. In the Auto Import Settings dialog box, set the following:
Figure 2-42

Watched Folder Select Choose, and, in the resulting Auto Import Settings dialog box, select an existing folder (it must be empty) or make a new folder and give it a name such as "Lightroom Imports."

Destination Select Choose and create or choose a folder where the images from the previously described folder will end up. If you don't do anything, Lightroom automatically names the folder Auto Imported Photos and places the managed images in the Pictures folder (Mac OS X, Windows Vista), or My Pictures folder (Windows XP).

File Naming Here, you can specify file name protocol, as described earlier.

Information Here you can select Develop Settings presets or Metadata presets and add keywords. Choose carefully. Your choices will apply to all images placed in the Watched Folder.

Figure 2-43

When you are finished with the Auto Import Settings, click OK. The next time you are ready to import a single image or a folder full of images, simply drag and drop the file into the watched folder and the import will start automatically. No dialog box will appear, but the status bar in the top left of the Library module will give you an indication of the progress.

Tethering a Digital Camera

You can tether a digital camera directly to your computer and view images in near real-time in Lightroom. You'll need a supported digital camera (not all are) with separate capture software. You won't be able to control your camera or release the camera shutter via Lightroom; that's for the camera software to do. But you can create a nearly seamless workflow of capture, import, and edit, and display. To do this:

Figure 2-44
  1. Set up your camera's capture software and attach your camera.
  2. Create a watched folder. (See previous section for details.)
  3. Point your capture software to the Lightroom Watched Folder. That's it. Now when you shoot, your files are automatically sent to Lightroom and are ready for editing and viewing.

Mikkel Aaland is a professional photographer whose pioneering work in digital photography dates back to 1981. He is the author of nine books including the bestselling Photoshop Elements Solutions and O'Reilly's acclaimed Photoshop Lightroom Adventure. Visit his website at

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