Moving and renaming files and folders

If I want to re-arrange some of my image folders and files, can I do so using Apple’s “finder” and assume that PL4 will understand what I did?

If I want to combine several folders into one larger folder, can I just do it with “finder”, and PL4 will understand? Or, is it better if I do all this while inside PL4?

Are there any articles on how to do this smoothly, creating a minimum of issues?

If none of the above is a good idea, I’ll leave things as-is, and try to do better in the future.

I do not assign keywords on PhotoLab. Therefore, I’d rearrange files and folders in the Finder. Before rearranging, I’d export sidecars and then make sure that files and sidecars stay together.

Open DPL, select the rearranged folder(s) and DPL should be able to work as nothing had changed. I’d have to manually import sidecars though, here’s why:

  • In its default config, DPL exports and imports sidecars automatically.
    I have set my DPL to not do so in order to be in control.

Are you perhaps wondering, Mike, whether PL will be able to identify your {image+sidecar} files if you’ve moved them somewhere “whilst PL’s back is turned” ? … In which case, don’t worry; PL depends on the filename only - so, as long as you haven’t renamed the {image+sidecar} files, you’ll be safe.

Related note: If you happen to duplicate the {image+sidecar} files and then PL encounters both versions, it will present them as multiple Virtual copies.

Note: That’s good advice from @platypus to ensure your sidecar/.dop files have been created before you start moving things around. An even safer approach would be to not do so whilst PL is running.

Regards, John M

Thank you John.

I was still debating which image processor to use. I got an email about PL4 and bought it, hoping it could be my replacement for Lightroom and the other programs I have tried. At roughly the same time, I decided to learn all about my Leica M10, which I bought back in March, but haven’t really learned how to use it. So my other cameras were put away, and by trial and error I got to learning the M10. At the same time, I realized how little I knew about PL4, which resulted in posting several things in this forum to better understand it. As of today, while I’m no expert at either, I feel comfortable using the M10 and doing my work in PL4.

Since it was a learning exercise, I created new PL4 folders every day, and over time, I got much more comfortable with the whole process - and at the end of the day, exporting the best images to a sub-folder with jpg images to post on-line or mail.

This has left me with lots of silly folder names such as Biscayne Bay 1, 2, 3, and so on. All these images are similar in that they have photos from in and around Biscayne Bay, Florida. Until a few days ago, I wanted to combine all those folders into one large folder, but now I’ve been reading how PL4 maybe slows down too much with huge folders.

My tentative solution is to create a new folder “Biscayne Bay, 2020” and move all those existing folders into the new folder. From what you have just told me, this will not create any problems.

So, assuming this is my goal, do I need to do this file manipulation from within PL4, or can I close PL4 and do it using Apple’s “finder” utility. (I’m only asking this because I know my Lightroom program won’t allow me to make changes like this using ‘finder’ - if I make the changes while I’m inside of and using Lightroom, all is good.

If it doesn’t matter, I will do it while using ‘finder’.

‘platypus’ - A very wise user here pointed out to me that what I’ve been doing is just an updated version of what my parents and grandparents used to do, with photos going into labeled shoeboxes.

I used to trust Lightroom to do this for me, back when I owned my own copy of Lightroom. Now that I’m just renting Lightroom, I mostly stopped using it other than to keep track of all my old images, which are also arranged in a meaningful file system, allowing me to find images the old way, going to the appropriate place in the file tree for that location, year, and subject. Since I created a separate folder system for PL4, nothing has been changing in my Lightroom system.

As far as I know, all my settings in PL4 are the way the program came. I haven’t changed anything. What you’re doing may give you more control, but it sounds overwhelmingly confusing to me.

As of today, while I’d like to make my “filing system” a little more intuitive, my thinking today is to only use PL4 as an image editor. As I think you’re doing now, I want my file organization to make sense, and to make it reasonably easy to find images I’m looking for.

At the same time, having read about DAM here (I had no idea what it was!), I considered finding a DAM program to help me find my photos in the future. My search came to an end when I saw one of my favorite programs, Photo Mechanic, has a new program available ‘Photo Mechanic Plus’ which not only includes the image manipulation it has always had, but adds on a new utility for DAM. I bought it, installed it on my iMac and my MacBook Pro, and have been reading about it and watching the YouTube videos about it since them. As far as I can tell, “keywords” are a big part of the new system. I think may be is a good answer for me. I can’t say much more right now, but if you watch the online YouTube videos, or go to the “Camera Bits” website and watch/read what they’ve posted, you’ll quickly be as up to date on this as I am now (and maybe much. more so - I’m rather slow).

Since you posted this in the Mac section…

Did you know that macOS provides its own keywording functionality? It’s called tags and, once you have tagged files with whatever you fancy, you can use Spotlight to search fo files with those tags

Capture d’écran 2020-11-20 à 14.46.16

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There are no known issues doing what you propose to do.

However, I should caution you that earlier versions of PL (esp. PL-3) had difficulty when working with directories with a large number of images. I can feel my MPB 16 GB heat up when dropping into directories with over 50 images, as the fan spins up.

I can’t speak for PL4 just yet on this matter.

No, I didn’t know that. Until someone here posted about it, I didn’t know about DAM either.

If I understand it correctly, the DAM software stores the necessary information in the image, meaning if I copy the image to a different computer, Mac, Windows, Linux - the information stays with the image. I don’t know enough about this yet to say much more, but since I’m still using PhotoMechanic, since around 20 years ago?, I figure it’s a good choice for me.

I found an excellent YouTube video five years ago about renaming images. I can’t remember where I saved it, but the video by John at Camera Bits is useful.

Added later - I found the video; it’s from 2011, but what I learned from it is still working today:

That is fine but, at the moment, PL doesn’t read embedded keywords, it reads them from an XMP sidecar

Joanna, is there a video explaining how to add keywords in PL4? For now, maybe I’ll just do it both ways.

Are keywords typed in each time, or do they come from a master list, and you just select the one(s) you want? I tried to find out more about this yesterday, but got involved in other things, until I got too sleepy to keep my eyes open.

If keywords exist in the image being opened for the first time in PL4, do the keywords get copied into the PL4 keywords ?

Not necessarily.I set my DAM to save all the metadata in xmp sidecar files. I try to keeps the raw file untouched. Some DAM software allows both and some only allow xmp.

Photo Supreme - which I use - has this option for older raw file formats to write either xmp or into the raw file or both. With newer raw file formats Photo Supreme will only do xmp files - no more writing into the raw file.

I’ll add this to my list of questions for Jon at Camera Bits (Photo Mechanic).

“Does Photo mechanic save metadata to Raw Image File or XMP sidecar file?”

There is no provision in PL to move files around, Mike … You’ll be safe doing so with Apple’s file-management tool (whatever that is … I’m on Windows, so I can’t help you there). Do be sure that PL is not running at the same time, tho - just to be sure to be sure !


I personally don’t use keywords and haven’t found such a video.

PL neither reads from nor writes to original files. It will read keywords from XMP sidecars but it subsequently only writes them to its own database. As far as I can tell, there is no “master list”, you just type them in each time, but you’d be better off asking someone who uses keywords.

As I mentioned earlier, if I do want to use keywords, I use Finder’s tags.

Other than that, I organise my files in folders by location/subject, followed by year, then month then day.

I have written my own image browser app, which flattens the hierarchy and allows me to see all images for a given location or year, etc, regardless of what subfolders they are in. You can do similar by choosing a folder in Finder and searching for all files of your RAW file type.

@mikemyers, while many use folders by date followed by location/subject, @Joanna has ordered her photo archive the other way 'round, which makes complete sense too. Both orders can work well because they are just different views of the same thing. What best works for one person might not work well for someone else and the best structure is the one that we understand. And whatever structure we use, we also experience limits of that structure.

While our lives roll along the axis of time, we remember or have interest in specific locations/subjects rather than specific times. Joanna’s folder structure looks perfect from this point of view.

Using an asset management tool helps traverse structures in both (or all) dimensions and therefore helps overcome limits of whatever structure we use.

I upgraded my computer from PhotoMechanic to PhotoMechanic Plus which includes DAM. It allows a person to use either of the systems you mentioned, and by using KEYWORDS in the catalog, once I get that done, I’ll be able to search in a similar manner to what I did in Lightroom.

When I added dates to the filename, I used to ue Month-Day-Year. One of the videos I watched suggested I change to “YYYYMMDD | the next words identify the loation or person”. For example if I posted a photo of Bob Edwards at home, I might make the filename:

1920-11-25 | bob edwards home

The beauty of doing this is the straight line character “|” will all be one over another in the display, and the directory will be nicely organized by date. If I can find that video again, I’ll post it here.

To use this, all I need to do is put the memory card in my computer. PhotoMechanic starts, renames my photos and folders, and takes some of the data from the “template” I fill out before I do the ingest.

Sorting helps best if it leads you from rough to fine. Therefore you’d want the date prefix to be YYYYMMDD or YYYY-MM-DD or YYYY_MM_DD etc. On the other hand, if you more easily remember that you shot something in, say, May, your original date prefix is fine.

The pipe sign helps recognize the parts of the filename - only if the list of items is displayed with a non-proportional type. Finder types have changed in newer versions of macOS and list view uses a proportional type :frowning:


there was one short video here Managing Photo Keywords / DxO PhotoLab 3 - YouTube

best regards

This topic is the most appropriate one I could find to ask the following.

Let’s pretend my directory path in macOS to get to my images is:

Pictures > PL4 > USA > Miami > …and all my image folders reside within .

Let’s say I want to rename the folder currently with a file name of PL4 to --PL4–
(actually, I use an underscore, not a dash, but I don’t know how to type an underscore character in this forum so it shows up properly.)

(Meaning I’m changing the name of the top-level folder in my Apple’s “Pictures” folder.)

If I exit PL4, and as you so nicely put it, do the rename whilst PL’s back is turned, will it work?

When I next open PL4, will it instantly pick up on the change, and everything will work normally?
Or, will PL4 squad its displeasure at me and tell me it’s lost.

And since I’m asking this, would PL4 react the same way, were I to move the folder structure to an external drive?I have no plans to do that right now, but my iMac drive is down to only 128 GB free space. Sometime this year I’ll need to deal with that.

Questions are always welcome but consider that those of us who can answer these types of questions generally can do so because we’ve tried them out ourselves. As a result I suggest that you consider experimenting with your various scenarios and let us know what you find out.