Import photos from a camera or card reader

When you import photos into Lightroom Classic, you create a link between the photo itself and the record of the photo in the catalog. In the case of importing from a camera or card reader, Lightroom Classic copies the photos to your hard drive and adds the links to the photos in the catalog.

When importing, you work from left to right in the import window. First, on the left, identify what files you want to import (the source files). Then, in the middle of the window, choose how you want to import them into the catalog (when importing from a camera or card, you copy them). Finally, on the right, specify where you want to store the files (the destination folder) and other options for the imported files.

The Lightroom Classic import window
The Lightroom Classic import window

A. Preview area B. Source panel C. Toggle Minimal import D. Options and Destination panels 


Important: When importing for the first time, think through how you want to organize your photos and where you plan to store them before you start. Planning ahead can help minimize the need to move photos later and possibly lose track of them in your catalog.

1. Connect the camera or camera card reader to your computer.

If necessary, see your camera's documentation for instructions on how to connect the camera to the computer.

  • Make sure to unlock your iPhone/iPad, If you are importing photos from an iPhone/iPad on macOS. 
  • To have Lightroom Classic start automatically when you plug in a camera or card reader, choose Lightroom Classic > Preferences (macOS) or Edit > Preferences (Windows). In General, look under Import Options and select Show Import Dialog When A Memory Card Is Detected.

2. Open Lightroom Classic and the import window.

In Lightroom Classic, click the Import button in the Library module or choose File > Import Photos And Video to open the import window.

3. Point Lightroom Classic to the camera or card reader.

On the left side of the import window, use the Source panel to navigate to the device or card that contains the photos you want to import: Click From or Select A Source to find the device.

The Lightroom Classic CC Source panel with a camera selected.
A camera selected as the import source


If you're importing from an attached camera card, select Eject After Import to automatically disconnect the card after Lightroom Classic finishes importing photos.

4. Preview and select photos.

In the center of the import window, click one of the following:


Copies the photo files to the folder you choose, including any sidecar files.

Copy As DNG

Copies photos to the folder you choose and converts any camera raw files to the Digital Negative (DNG) format.


The Add and Move import methods are not available when importing from a camera or camera card.

Then, select the photos that you want to import. Use the options above and below the preview area to help you select.

All Photos

Displays all photos in the selected source location.

New Photos

Displays photos in the selected source location that are new since you last imported from this location into Lightroom Classic and ignores suspected duplicates.

Suspected duplicates are dimmer than other photos in the Grid view and cannot be selected.

Grid view icon () and Loupe view icon ()  Toggle between Grid and Loupe view in the preview area.

Check All and Uncheck All Select and deselect, respectively, all photos in the preview area.

Sort  Lets you sort the previews by capture time, selected state, filename, or type of media (photos and videos).

You can also use standard key commands to select multiple photos in the Grid view: Shift-click to select contiguous photos or Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS) to select discrete photos. After photos are selected, as indicated by the light gray border, click a check box in any selected photo border to check them all. Lightroom Classic imports photos that are checked.


Lightroom Classic supports photos up to 65,000 pixels long or wide, up to 512 megapixels. For a complete list of supported file formats, see Supported file formats.

5. Tell Lightroom Classic where to put your photos.

On the right side of the import window, click To and specify where you want to save your copied photos. You can select a location on your hard drive, on an attached external drive, or on a networked drive.

You can also open the Destination panel on the right side of the import window to create a subfolder in your chosen location.

The Destination panel of the Lightroom Classic CC import window
The import Destination panel

In Grid view, the Destination Folders option above the preview area shows the path to the folder or folders you've selected to save the photos.

6. Specify file-handling and other import options.

Use the File Handling, File Renaming, and Apply During Import panels on the right side of the import window to customize how your photos are imported. For explanations of all of the import options in these panels, see Specify import options.

7. Click Import.

Lightroom Classic displays a progress bar in the upper-left corner of the window as it imports the photos. Then it shows you the thumbnails in the Library module. If you do not want to import right now but want to save the changes you made to the import settings, then click Done

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