#CreativeFriday – Configuring Lightroom’s Auto Import feature

I was presenting this week to some photographers and a question was raised about Lightroom’s Auto Import function. The question was, how to set it up to watch a folder and auto import the content.

There are many ways to use the Auto Import feature, and will depend on your workflow scenario. Some examples are, auto import from an application like Photo mechanic, from a 3rd party tether app, from dropbox or even from the Creative Cloud. I wanted to show and explain how to set up a practical example, based on a scenario that I have recently had.

In my home studio (shown below). You can see Lightroom on the main computer (iMac in the middle), then a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 on the right side, with a film scanner on the left. My process was to scan from the scanner to the Wacom Cintiq, then once each film has been scanned (36 exposures), they are transferred by memory card to the iMac and into Lightroom.




The question, raised a good point, can I improve this workflow and get the import into Lightroom the films in a much better way.

The Auto Import feature in Lightroom can be configured to watch any folder, even a Creative Cloud folder. On the Cintiq I have Vuescan running, scanning the negatives, then outputting to a folder. Let’s see how to have the output folder be a Creative Cloud folder and the inbound one being the same on a different computer.

The series of steps will walk through how to configure this up and get the Auto Import running.

  1. On the Cintiq side, i’ve created a folder structure on the Creative Cloud called Scans / Current Scan. This folder, once created, will be synced to the iMac  (as long as the Creative Cloud Desktop and Folder Syncing is turned on, on both machines).


2. Vuescan is configured to save the TIFF file to the ‘CurrentScan’ folder above.

N.B. The file should be set to Date and Time (YYYMMDD_HHMMSS.xxx), this will allow each file to have a unique file name.

3. Once the negative has been scanned, the output TIF file will be placed into the Current Scan folder. (N.B Vuescan will write the initial file and streams the content to it, the Creative Cloud sync will start when the initial file is created, but will report errors because it’s not closed until Vuescan has finished creating the file. Once Vuescan has completed it’s processing, the Creative Cloud Sync will transfer the file).


4. The iMac has the same file configuration, because the Creative Cloud has synced everything across (I am logged in with the same User ID, so it’s not a share with anyone else).

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5. Within Lightroom, the Auto Import Settings can be found under the menu option ‘File / Auto Import / Auto Import Settings’, select this option and the following dialog will be shown.


We know that the file will be created on the Creative Cloud Current Scan folder, this should be specified as the watched folder.

We know where the file should be placed once Lightroom has completed the import. This folder will be the Scan folder that relates to the physical index of the negative set (in this case, the series 29102015_5 (the 5th film in the series from the 29th October 2015, a recent trip to india)). (The subfolder name index (_5) should be manually increased by 1 for the next film, or a new index reference, that relates back to your film archive strategy).

I also would like to make the series look like the HP5 film type, luckily, I have the VSCO HP5 treatment, so i’ve selected this from the Develop Settings list. I’ve also added my metadata template (this contains my copyright and contact details), as well as the global keyword for the film set.

The Enable Auto Import has been turned on, once the OK button is pressed this watched folder will start. After the images have been imported, the file will removed automatically from the Current Scan Folder.

(N.B. The watched folder must be empty when the background job starts)

6. Within Lightroom, the destination folder will appear on the left hand side within the folders section. The image will appear on the film strip and within the grid view.

This is ideal for a local set up, but it could also be extended to someone scanning in a remote location or multiple people scanning from many locations.

Hopefully this will give you creative ideas on using the Auto Import watched folder feature for a scenario that you may have.

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