Trying to escape LR, please help

Hi, new here. I’m trying to find a way out of LR. I hate to be tied to a subscription forever and you can no longer buy the program to own…

Anyway I installed Rawtherapee (and a DXO) to try out (I also have ON1 that I purchased a while back). I don’t want to come off as a total idiot, but I’m so used to the “import” feature of LR and I don’t know how to do the equivalent in the other apps . Almost 100% of hundreds (perhaps thousands) of my photos are in the LR catalog.

Anyway, what advise can you offer in how to move the photos from the SD cards into something that looks like the LR catalog? Otherwise how exactly would be a good way to start? I shoot mostly with FF and APSC cameras.

Hi there and welcome to Pixls (and RawTherapee)!

RawTherapee does not have a catalogue or equivalent database variant, it uses the files and file hierarchy that is on your native filesystem. Have a look here: RawPedia - File Browser. RawPedia is RawTherapees online documentation, which is rather good.

I personally use Rapid Photo Downloader (it is Linux specific though) to get the RAWs of my memory cards and onto my computer in a very structured way (it also makes an immediate backup if you want to). So you basically create your own structure based on your preferences and browse through that using RawTherapee.

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The thing i like the most in RT is that you don’t need catalogue.
You edit the photos where they are.
Rt creates a sidecar file with your editings and stop.
You can leave the photos anywhere in the hdd or sd cards or wherever


Thank you, I don’t know if such a utility exists for IOS, but I’ll search for one.

Well yes, I understand I might not need a catalogue to edit, but I’m very accustomed to inserting my SD card (or whatever storage) and “importing” the photos from LR which organizes them by year and date. I’m just upset about losing that functionality which is absent (as far as I can tell) from RawTherapee, DXO and ON1. I can battle the different manner of editing and so forth but after years of LR use I miss that familiar way to begin my work: import the photos in an organized way into a catalogue. Curse them, they now want my money every month and if I understand correctly, once I stop paying the subscription, they keep all my photos in “their cloud” and I cannot access them…

Oh well, I guess I’m going to have to learn a complete new way to deal with my photos…

You could also try another free applications, darktable or digikam. Digikam does DAM, but its editing features are not nearly as advanced as those of RawTherapee or darktable (but you can set it up to launch RawTherapee for editing). darktable also does DAM, and its editor is powerful, too.


The basic way would be replicate the preferred LR catalogue structure in your image folder on your harddrive. I don’t know how LR does it by default but basically create folders.

Home/Photos/2021/2021-05-29_Mountains and drag your files from the sd card to this folder.

I’d be surprised if there isn’t a simple piece of software that can do this for you automatically. I use Debian Linux and rapid photo downloader but I imagine most platforms have something similar.

If you really like the DAM features you could as @kofa suggests try Digikam. digiKam - Download it has a download for Mac. Give it a go, it’s free software, safe and quite good but has a lot of features and buttons. It can as mentioned be configured to launch Rawtherapee for editing. The two programs together then function quite similar to LR.

Digikam has an import feature as you request.

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I use Faststone image viewer to import raw files from my sd card. It renames the files according to the format I’ve given (date-time-filename) and places them into folders in a year/month/date structure.

Edit - Just read that you are on a mac. I’m sure there will be a similar app here.

I have been down the same route as you are about to go.
First step for me was to take control of the folder structure of my images.
This was regardless of what program I end up with. I chose to sort in folders by year, and month. I never actually had my photos in the Adobe cloud, hope that doesn’t complicate too much for you.

Yes I know it sounds like a lot of work, and it is… But the reward is great. You might be able to script some to do the bulk of the work, YMMW.

What I do when I come back home with my camera and SD card is to just copy the image files into the appropriate folders, by month. Sometimes subdivided into special happenings or trips.

Then I ended up with DigiKam for tags and general organisation.
Rawtherapee for raw files. All raw files are supposed to be developed and saved as high quality jpegs. Raw files to be thrown away unless I find them special in some way or another.

I totally get it. But for some reason I just never had a need to organize files before I stared capturing images and storing them… My “documents” or “downloads” folders are just a junk drawer full of stuff. It’s messy, but easy enough to navigate by searching keywords, etc.

The sorting and cataloguing images is a whole new order of magnitude. I have thousands of images taken with a variety of cameras. The Lightroom software was extremely easy to use as it imported my images automatically sorting them in yr/month/date folders and not importing duplicates!. I never thought more about it until now when Lightroom is not a good option.

The importing/sorting of images has proven to be a crucial aspect of the art… I hope I can find a program or app that will substitute that part of Lightroom. The actual editing can be learned and many good applications exist. Lightroom was also very good in that the catalog/organizing and file handling allowed the editing to be done with things like On1 or the NIK collection (a fave of mine) directly from the LR shell… I’m surprised that none of the other editing software programs I have seen, have provided such a feature.

Unfortunately in spite of my years of using computers for engineering, solid modeling and all manner of things, I never learned to create routines, programs or instructions such as what I now need… Oh well…

Thanks, I’ll look into it.

ON1 can do it and rename them as you like…so can Darktable…

I don’t think you have fully explored on1…it can import as you want into that folder structure and also catalogue or not catalogue images…that catalogue is an index for searching and to speed up access to the images it does not import the actual files so you are pretty free to work with them…

I was about to suggest the same thing. I can 't say how it works with a Mac but its free to try. Supposedly has facial recognition and a host of other features…

Nothing says that you have to create a folder hierarchy all at once. Take your time and I’m sure it will get done. Knowing where your photos are by not having to rely on software to do it for you is a good thing IMHO. Once done, I’m willing to bet that you would not go back to . . .

They ( @RF1 ) also own a product that does what they (sorry for the pronoun don’t want to assume a gender based on RF1) want @RF1 see here:

And you can save import strategies as presets.

And even if you never use or used ON1 to edit you could use it to import and create your folder structure which you would be free to use in a number of open source tools until you find the one that meets your needs…

Face recognition does not really work. digiKam 7.2.0 is released - #9 by kofa

I disagree. It works and is very convenient compared to manual face tagging. Probably not as good as cloud based apos though.

@RF1 just to repeat it sounds more and more like digikam is the tool for you.

As far as digikam - yes, its editing features aren’t that powerful, which is why I (and a lot of people?) use it for organization/basic culling followed by RT for development.

Also, I now keep everything in a folder hierarchy - as others have said, you don’t have to do it all at once. In my case, I have a folder hierarchy under “sorted” and my unsorted stuff is - well anywhere but there. :slight_smile:

Anything new goes into “sorted” via digikam

All I can say that it did not work for me, for the reasons I described in the comment shown above. I’m glad it works for you.