Lightroom Image Sequencing Options

By Gene McCullagh
October 8, 2009

Any well developed and flexible image processing application will allow users to approach a workflow and adapt it to what works best for them. Lightroom is no exception. Many users are well familiar with renaming image files during import and applying a sequence number to each file.

The Import dialog allows us to choose to add a sequence number as part of the renaming process. We choose what number to start the sequence and each subsequent image receive an incremented number.

Import Photos-1-1.jpg

Once the images are imported we can see that they have been sequenced according to our selections.

Lightroom-10.jpg

Lightroom gives us two additional sequence numbers to work with. You can see them in your catalog preferences under the File Handling tab.

Catalog Settings-3.jpg

However, many users have said to me that these numbers never change and are always set to 1. Well here's the secret. You need to use their tokens in a filename template before they start to count. Let's set up two new filename templates.

When you are in the import dialog choose Edit... from the dropdown menu in the file name section.

Filename Template Editor-2.jpg

Sequence # (1) is the token we are already familiar with. We get to choose the starting number with each import. Image # (1) keeps a running count of images imported and relates to the Photos Imported number in the catalog preferences. Import # (1) counts the number of times you have imported images. So let's set up a new preset using the Import and Sequence tokens. Use the Insert buttons next to a token to add it to the template.

Filename Template Editor-1-1.jpg

Now we do two imports using this template and then take a look back in catalog preferences.

Catalog Settings-1-1.jpg

Wow! The Import Number has changed! Since we did two imports the next import number is displayed. If we look at the filenames on the two imports we can see the import number included as directed.

Lightroom-11.jpg

Now let's set up a new filename template using the Image Number token and try some imports.

Lightroom-12.jpg

When we check the catalog preferences we see that the Photos Imported number as also changed.

Catalog Settings-2-1.jpg

So what's the benefit of these different sequencing tokens? Flexibility! If you prefer to number your images sequentially but don't like having to remember or lookup the last number because Sequence # always starts at 1 then use Image # and let Lightroom keep track of it for you! That's just one example.

Now that you know what the sequence tokens do and how they related to the catalog preferences, see how you can fit them into your workflow.


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