Adobe Lightroom Doesn’t Recognize Duplicates From Replacement iPhone
May 3, 2013
2 comment

As I mentioned in a previous post, I use Lightroom to back up my photos and videos from my iPhone. For the most part, the process is exceptionally smooth. However, I’ve run in to a few situations when Lightroom does not recognize images already in the catalog as duplicates.

New Catalog

When I created my new catalog, I added in my image folders from my local hard drive, and all my images (and edits via XMP) showed up, as expected. When I tried to import the images from my iPhone, Lightroom was treating all of my images, even though they were already in my new catalog by adding my iPhone Backup folder in to Lightroom, as new images; the Do Not Import Suspected Duplicates option had no effect.

Replacement iPhone

I’ve also seen the same thing happen when I had to replace my iPhone. Even though I restored the new physical device from a backup of my previous phone, Lightroom did not recognize those images that were restored from the backup as duplicates, likely because they weren’t coming from the same device.

When A Duplicate Is Not A Duplicate

The problem seems to be caused by the way the images were added to the catalog. During an import from a device, Lightroom tracks things like the original file name, capture time, and file size. So if you import from your iPhone in to your catalog, and then do the same thing a week later, with the Do Not Import Suspected Duplicates option selected, only those images you took in that span of a week would be imported because Lightroom has a record of importing all the other images from the iPhone.

Since I did not import them from my iPhone, I suspect that Lightroom could not identify them as a duplicate, even through the file name, capture time, and file size were identical, because it was missing information about the device that the original import was from or recognized the new phone as a different device. This makes sense because if you just used file name, capture time, and file size to identify a duplicate, you’d run in to a situation where importing images from two cameras at an event would show many duplicates if they were from the same camera model.


Start From Scratch

If you’ve never deleted any images from your iPhone, then the easiest solution is to simply re-import all of your images and movies from your iPhone in to a new folder. Then, on subsequent imports, your Lightroom catalog will have a record of the attributes necessary to identify a duplicate.

The Manual Solution

If you’re like me, though, and regularly delete images from your iPhone, that’s no longer an option if you want to keep all of your iPhone images and movies in one folder. Simply importing (again) in to the same folder won’t overwrite the earlier files; instead, you’ll wind up with duplicates since there is no “overwrite” option.

Here is what I came up with

  1. Rename my existing iPhone Backup folder (the one that I imported from the hard drive to my new catalog) to iPhone Backup.original. This will also rename it on the file system.
  2. Remove the iPhone Backup.original folder from Lightroom. This only removes the folder from the catalog, not from the file system.
  3. Import everything currently on my iPhone in to a new folder, my new iPhone Backup folder. At this point, Lightroom only has import information for the stuff that was on my phone.
  4. In the file system, copy everything from iPhone Backup.original to the new iPhone Backup folder. You can overwrite the files in the destination folder if you made changes to them (and saved those changes to the original file) after they were originally imported in to Lightroom.
  5. Back in Lightroom, synchronize the iPhone Backup folder. This should pick up all the images you just copied in that were no longer on your phone.

At this point, you should be good. It’s ok that you backdoored in the files that are no longer on your phone because you’re never going to import them again from your phone, so it’s irrelevant if Lightroom has enough data to determine whether it’s a duplicate .

The next time you import files from your iPhone in to Lightroom, it will recognize all the items that are on your phone as duplicates since it now has a record of importing them from your phone.

I’ve heard this also happens when you import from another catalog because re-importing my iPhone Backup folder from my previous catalog would not include those attributes necessary to allow Lightroom to identify duplicates. I confirmed this by creating a new catalog and importing the iPhone Backup folder I just created above from my main catalog. The images showed up in this temporary catalog just fine, but when I then went through the import process from my iPhone to the temporary catalog, Lightroom did not identify any of the image files as duplicates.

Hope this helps!


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There are 2 comments

  • Avery Elliott says:

    Hey There Dave,
    Along the same lines,, I’m having a problem with Lightroom and I can’t figure it out. All of a sudden when I use the Adjustment brush, it’s brushing red! It doesn’t matter if it’s in exposure mode, saturation mode, brightness mode . . . it does it no matter what I am trying to do. I don’t know if I hit a key on the keyboard or what . . . it’s driving me nuts. I have a ton of photos to edit, so I need to figure this out!! Any help would be appreciated!!
    BTW great blogpost