Create a Lightroom 5 custom import preset to organize photos into year-month (YYYY-MM)

When importing my tens of thousands of photos into Adobe Lightroom 5 for Mac, I wanted to take advantage of import presets to automatically re-organize my photos  chronologically to replace the somewhat haphazard folder structure I had been using for many years.

I wanted the top level folders to be 4 digit year (YYYY), and inside each year I wanted one folder per month, with the year and month in the folder name, but not the date (YYYY-MM) since I don’t need 365 folders per year.

Desired Destination folder: YYYY/YYYY-MM Lightroom’s default import presets for the Destination do not have an option to have just the year and month as a folder name (without the date). It does offer a Destination YYYY/YYYY-MM-DD which is close, but too granular since I don’t need a separate folder for each day. So I want to remove the -DD day portion.

Desired File Renaming: YYYYMMDD-originalname In addition to storing the files in chronological YY-MM folders upon import,  also wanted to Rename the file on import to prefix the filename with the date, for example 20141201-DSCF1000.JPG, which fortunately IS one of the defaults for File Renaming.

Here’s how

I found several forum posts with users wanting to do the same thing, and some very out-of-date posts about editing a file called TranslatedStrings.txt which no longer exists in Lightroom.

The solution in Lightroom 5 turned out to be simple. What I did was select the”File Renaming” and “Destination” defaults closest to what I wanted, saved it as a user preset, then used a text editor to edit the preset file.

Step 1 – Save an almost-right User Preset After clicking Import, on the right pane I selected the two options show below: under Rename Files I chose Date – Filename and under Destination I chose into Subfolder by date with format YYYY/YYYY-MM-DD which gave me something to edit (all I need to do is remove the “-DD” part, as described below.

Then in the bottom Import Preset pane I clicked the popup menu and selected Save current settings as new preset and named the preset MyYYYY_YYYY-MM

lightroommenu

 

Step 2 – Manually edit the new user preset to remove the -DD

Lightroom 5 on the Mac saves the custom user import preset in the location ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Import Presets/User Presets and the easiest way to open that folder is in Finder choose Go > Go to folder… then copy/paste that string. Finder will open the folder and you should see the file MyYYYY_YYYY-MM.lrtemplate

Open the file with any plain-text editor Since the extension is not .txt you can’t double-click the file to open a text editor, so right-click the fiel and choose Open with > Other and choose your favorite plain text editor, such as Text Edit.app

Edit the line that says

shootNameFormat = “%Y/%Y-%m-%d”,

to remove the -%d which is the day number so it looks like:

shootNameFormat = “%Y/%Y-%m”,

Simply save the text file. Close Lightroom, then relaunch it.

Click the Import button and in the bottom Import preset pane choose your new preset MyYYYY_YYYY-MM option. When you import files into your catalog it will copy them to the new folder structure.

3 thoughts on “Create a Lightroom 5 custom import preset to organize photos into year-month (YYYY-MM)”

  1. THANK YOU
    the inability to do what I want and forced to do what ADOBE wants has been driving me nuts. Your solution is exactly what I wanted.
    I am using the latest Lightroom Classic CC 7.2 and this worked perfectly.

    And for those who are using Windows (in particular Windows 10) the path to the custom user preset file that needs editing is

    C:\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Import Presets\User Presets

    open the .lrtemplate file with notepad and change the
    shootNameFormat = “%Y/%Y-%m-%d”,
    to
    shootNameFormat = “%Y/%Y-%m”,

    again,

    thank you

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