Lightroom – How Do You Change the Order of Images, Before Renaming?

Adobe Lightroom Classic

In order to reorder images in the Library, view them in Grid view and then drag (in the thumbnail) and drop in order to reposition. This creates what’s called a Custom Sort order. However, Custom Sort orders depend on folder hierarchy. If a folder contains subfolders a custom sort order is not possible unless the option to “Include Items from Subfolders” is disabled (in which case you will only be able to see the photos in the targeted folder).

And don’t worry, you can still use the Sort option in the tool bar to sort by other means (like Capture Time and File Type) and when you return to the User Order, Lightroom will remember your Custom Sort Order.

If you want to reorder images that have subfolders (without moving them from their original folders), then select all of the images and create a Collection (not a Smart Collection – Custom Sort orders are not available for Smart Collections) and then reorder them in the collection.

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Posted on 02-21-2012


  • By Door Handles UK - 8:42 AM on February 22, 2012  

    Awsome images

  • By Deb Scally - 4:26 PM on September 3, 2012  

    Apologies if you get this in two places, as I just left this same question as a comment on your webshow comment section under Sorting Images in Lightroom. Here is my question:

    How can you sort a Collection that has photos from different source files by capture time? I have a Collection with photos from 4 different source files and I want them all in sequential order by capture time. I cannot understand why LR won’t do this for me. I can manually drag and drop individual files to change the order, but I have 400+ files in this collection and this would take me hours. It should be as easy as any other sort function, right?? Pls help!

    • By Robin - 4:10 AM on September 7, 2012  

      Hi Deb,

      In the library module have you tried View / Sort /Capture Time?


  • By Michael - 1:13 PM on September 11, 2012  

    Great, I can change the order of images in a collection by capture time but I then want to rename the images in that order, and then move to a new folder. How?

    • By Julieanne Kost - 2:56 PM on September 12, 2012  

      ONce they in the order you like, select all of the images, and rename them. Once renamed, since you in a collection, (and I assume the images are all in different folders on your hard drive) make sure the images are still selected, click All Photographs in the Catalog panel. Drag the selected images to the desired folder (even if you can’t see all of the image that were in your collection they will still be selected and will move to the folder.

  • By Peter Brooks - 12:37 PM on October 12, 2012  

    Is the drag and drop facility supposed to work for a collection being prepared to publish on Facebook? I have tried it and it doesn’t seem to work (Lr v 4.2)

  • By Maree Aldred - 1:36 PM on October 19, 2012  

    in lightroom 4 when I try to change the order of the images it says: “The currently selected source does not support custom order” – what am I doing wrong? The images are all in the one folder I am trying to order a selection of approx 500 images selected from 2000 that I shot.
    P.S. THANK YOU for all of your sensational tutorials I find them so interesting and so easy to learn – far better than any Uni lecture I attended – Thank you!

    • By Pete Green - 3:56 PM on October 22, 2012  

      Sounds like you’re in either the Previous Import view, or All Photographs perhaps… Add the images to a Quick Collection, or create your own collection with these images in it, then click on the collection you’ve created and you’ll be able to move the images around inside the collection.

  • By Carrie - 7:29 AM on October 24, 2012  

    Does this custom image sorting work in LR3? I can’t seem to make it work.

    • By Maree Aldred - 3:45 PM on October 27, 2012  

      Thank you Pete Green!

  • By rebecca - 11:54 AM on November 27, 2012  

    how do I drag photos which I want to put in another order within the grid view, when I want to drag them further than the viewable window?

    I can’t believe Lightroom doesn’t facilitate this, all other programs do. I’m still in LTrm 3. if I have to drag a photo say 50 photos ahead of where it’s located now, I have to drag to the top of the page, let it go, scroll my window up, click on it again, and drag it to the top of that window, and on and on till I cumbersomely arrive at where I want the photo(s). there must be a better way?

    • By rebecca - 11:30 AM on November 29, 2012  

      I finally got it. I tried countless times to hover and scroll. As a veteran Photoshop pro and Mac user for 15 yrs, Lightroom really needs to reduce the micro sensitivity of the area scrolling is possible. How annoying.

    • By Julieanne Kost - 1:22 PM on December 5, 2012  

      If you drag the files near the top or bottom of the window, the window will start scrolling faster and faster so that it takes less time to drag them into their new position. Of course you can also make your thumbnails smaller when reordering.

  • By Marie Wright - 3:53 PM on December 1, 2012  

    I was working on a wedding, using a custom sort, then out of the blue I get a warning message saying that dragging and dropping was not allowed and I can’t get back to where ever it was that I was where it was working! What the heck:?! Why would that change all of a sudden?

  • By Bud - 7:50 AM on December 13, 2012  

    I need help with photographs sent by email from Lightroom 4. I would like to be able to change the order of the photographs in the email. I have tried selecting the images in correct order or reverse order to no avail. Do I need to rename the images or give them numbers?

    • By Aj - 5:08 PM on April 17, 2013  

      Did you ever get an answer about emailing order? No matter what I do, Mac, they email from last to first.

  • By Mark Perrine - 9:30 AM on January 10, 2013  

    I need to custom sort in Library > Collection (not Smart Collection) with over 150 photos. I need to sort by DATE CREATED in the Metadata window. This is very difficult to do manually with User Order due to the great quantity of pics.

    Why can’t I do a custom sort by (any) Metadata?

    • By Julieanne Kost - 2:20 PM on January 10, 2013  

      If you are in Grid View in the Library module, there is a Filter bar at the top of the grid area. Click Metadata and the first column allows you to filter by date. Does that do what you want it to do?

  • By Kent Krugh - 12:28 PM on January 14, 2013  

    I have made a collection, not special collection. When I drag an image to re-order, the message appears “You must have at least one photo unselected” (paraphrase).

    The library images are not selected, only one image in the collection is selected. Where else could I have all images selected?

    • By Julieanne Kost - 8:35 AM on January 19, 2013  

      Can you just make sure that not all of the images are selected by choosing Edit > Select none? I sometimes have a hard time knowing if all of the images are selected (because LR needs a “selected” and “Most selected” state). If that doesn’t help, then i would post the question to one of these two forums:

  • By Mike - 1:02 AM on January 16, 2013  

    I want to sort images in Library mode so that when I do a slide show they are in a particular order.
    I can sort on capture time or rating individually, but I want to sort on both, rating first with a secondary sort on capture time.
    Can you please let me know how I can do this so they will then display in the correct order in slideshow, thanks.

  • By Frank - 6:51 PM on February 17, 2013  

    I have a problem with LR4.5 lets say I just capture or copy some images into the catalog or folder but some of those images I want to move to the bottom of the collection of images 9same event same folder) but when I select those images lets say 20 images and I want to drag and drop in the new place nothing happens LR3 didnt have this proble does anybody knows why??? thanks

  • By Bob Z - 11:09 AM on April 9, 2013  

    When I import using a capture time sort, the latest photo is on top of the grid and the earliest at the bottom. How do I reverse this? It’s probably simple and I’m just missing it.

  • By Bob Z - 11:36 AM on April 9, 2013  

    Never mind. I knew it was easy and I was missing it.

  • By Darren L - 9:31 PM on April 10, 2013  

    Watched your video. Pretty helpful, but it doesn’t go over sorting when using a publishing service.
    For example, I set up a Facebook collection, post a bunch of pictures and publish. Great, no problem. THEN I add some more pictures and try to re-order them. What follows next is nothing short of mind-boggling: dragging and dropping photos in either the filmstrip view or the tile view dumps photos in almost any order except the one that I expect. In fact, selecting a photo in filmstrip and drag-dropping it will often help you select the -wrong- photo in the tile view! Am I missing something or is this a bug?

    • By Darren L - 10:34 PM on April 10, 2013  

      No wait, I know what’s going on… it’s seems to be a bug because some photos are published and some are not. If you do this, then you select an unpublished photo (say, #23) and then move it to a different position (say, #5) in the UNpublished grid view, the photo jumps to #1 of the UNpublished grid. HOWEVER, in the strip view, the photo is at ABSOLUTE #5 in the collection. The selected strip photo is still the same, but the grid selection is mismatched; it is the photo that came before it (i.e., #22). Does this make sense?

  • By peter - 12:38 AM on April 23, 2013  

    I am trying to create a slideshow of 600 pre numbered images in Lightroom, how can I get them to sort correctly in the pre numbers order, is this at all possible in Lightroom. The images are from various people and need to run in a single slide show.

    Any help appreciated.

    • By Julieanne Kost - 9:54 AM on April 24, 2013  

      Take the images that you want to add to the slideshow and put them in a collection. Then order them the way that you want them in the library module and proceed to the Slideshow. They will play in the order you placed them. Of course you can still make changes to the order by dragging the files in the Filmstrip in the Slideshow module, but I think it’s easier to reorder in the Grid view because you can see more images at one time.

  • By Huseyin Pamukcu - 10:58 AM on May 17, 2013  

    I use color labels, star rating and stacking when working on my images. When stacking i change the order ( depart from file number order ) I use folders. The processed and finished folder has color labels, ratings and stacked images in my custom order. Sometimes i need to move photos from one such processed folder to another, when i do this i would like the last moved photos to be placed at the bottom of the folder they are moved to. But i cannot achieve this. The photos become dispersed in the folder they are moved to. How can i maintain that the moved photos are transported to the destination folder following the last photo in that destination folder before moving. And i would like that the moved images keep their stacking and order system in their original folder. Thank you.

    • By Pete Green - 4:20 PM on May 22, 2013  

      In the tools bar in Library view, set the Sort order to User Order for this particular folder you are moving photos into.

      Click the folder on the left in the folders Pane, then change the Sort order. You can then rearrange the photos as needed in here, and if when you drag another image into this folder it will be added to the bottom/end of the list.

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  • By Jason - 12:03 PM on July 11, 2013  

    This has saved ALOT of headaches, thank you so much.

  • By Nate - 1:27 PM on July 13, 2013  

    I ordered the PHOTOs in date/time order using the View/Sort/Capture time. But the Videos all go to the end instead of staying in their places with the Photos. Is there a way to get them ALL in the order in which they were taken?

  • By Wayne D. Wong - 3:54 PM on July 23, 2013  

    In LR5 I have a folder containing subfolders with files imported from DVD (110,000) organized by subfolders named with the DVD source. These were in a catalog which was updated from LR4.

    How do I efficiently reorganize the structure to YR/MO/DAY such as would be done during import? Filtering by date and creating a folder including the selected files to move them is really slow. Example desired folder structure: 2009/2009-01/2009-01-01

    • By Julieanne Kost - 2:47 PM on August 5, 2013  

      LR doesn’t have an automated way to reorganize all of your images into new folders on the hard drive by date unless you were to reimport them using that feature.

  • By Rob - 10:27 PM on August 5, 2013  

    Your teaching is really clear and easy to understand – thank goodness! One quick question I can’t find an answer to – what if I want to grab say a dozen photos from a wedding and turn these black and white but keep the originals as colour. I want to separate these in a different collection or folder or something so I can work on them separate to the originals. I know I can make virtual copies but I want those virtual copies in separate place so I can work on them in one place and then view them in that one place?

    thanks all…

    • By Julieanne Kost - 9:55 AM on August 8, 2013  

      I would make virtual copies and then put them into a collection if you want to separate them from the originals.

  • By Brin Mariam - 8:42 PM on August 22, 2013  


    I am new to LR. I have recently started to do some photo selecting and editing for weddings. I select good pictures by first rating them. When I complete rating all the pictures, I begin correcting exposure and Temp/Tint. To go through over 1000 pictures or more per wedding I try to find similar images with similar exposure so I can correct one picture and apply that setting to 5 others. But doing it manually would take too long as you can imagine. It would help if LR could sort my rated pictures according to exposure or something else. Is there anything you can suggest that can make my work faster?

    Someone suggested sorting by Version. I have no idea what that is and if that even applies to LR. Maybe it applies to Aperture.

    I sorted under aspect ratio but that didn’t do the trick. I tried all the sorting choices. I am beginning to feel that there is no filters/sorting methods for my need.

    I hope I am making sense with my question. If you need me to clarify my question further, please let me know.

    Thank you for your time.

    Brin Mariam

  • By Angel Scott - 5:42 AM on August 25, 2013  

    I have a folder called “2013_08_24”. Within this folder I have all the photos that I shot on that day using two different cameras. When I sort by capture time, the photos are still sorted by camera first. So all of the photos shot using my D600 are first and all of the photos I shot with my D90 are second. Any way to sort the photos so that the photos are really sorted by capture time only and the photos from the D90 and D600 are intermingled?

    • By Julieanne Kost - 11:04 AM on August 29, 2013  

      Angel, the only reason that I can think that they wouldn’t be sorting by capture time is if the times on the cameras were off. If that’s not the case, I would post the issue to either of these forums to see if other customers are experiencing the same problem and if so, if they have found a solution. In addition, the product management team will see it.

  • By Kit - 8:54 AM on August 27, 2013  

    After placing 400 images in a new regular collection, I rearranged the images in a different order. Next I created virtual copies of them all within that collection. However, when I drag the virtual copies into another newly-created collection, the order of the virtual copies snaps back into the original order (possibly capture time) they were in prior to me rearranging the originals. How can I keep the order of the virtual copies from changing after I move them into a new collection? Thank you kindly.

    • By Julieanne Kost - 10:26 AM on August 29, 2013  

      Try duplicating the collection instead, then remove the original files that you don’t want.

      • In the Collection panel, Option -drag (Mac) | Alt -drag (Win) a collection to duplicate it. More specifically, if the collection is loose (it’s not in a Collection Set), Option -drag (Mac) | Alt -drag (Win) until a thicker line appear between two items (indicating that the collection will be duplicated), and release. To duplicate a collection within a Collection Set or to duplicate the collection into a different Collection Set, Option -drag (Mac) | Alt -drag (Win) the collection on top of the Collection Set icon (watch for the highlight) and release.