How to Preserve Sort Order

This is a small instruction how to make sure the user-defined sort order in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.2 is preserved when you make a collection from a folder that has stacks, and possibly subfolders. The source of the problem is also described.

[Stockholm, October 2007]

The problem

Due to some weird peculiarities, and some bugs, it can sometimes be next to impossible to preserve the user-defined sort order when you make a collection. This is especially so if you use stacks (which I assume you do) and the folder has subfolders. Sometimes everything seems to work fine, but then all of a sudden you may discover that some photos in the collection has a different order that the ones in the stacks. And when you reorder things, you might discover that your stacks are mangled, where some images have been moved outside the stack, despite you haven't touched it!

To create a collection, do the following, which ensures you won't run into those problems:
(In the following, 'cmd' is the command key on Macintosh — for Windows, use the control key instead.)

  1. First of all, disable Include Photos from Subitems (under the menu 'Library')!
  2. In the folder, select all photos and stacks of photos that will form a collection.
  3. Expand the stacks (press 'S' or Photo > Stacking > Expand All Stacks).
  4. Cmd-D, then either cmd-A or manually select the photos to become a collection.
  5. Set the sort order for the folder to User Order.
  6. Create the collection (click on '+' under Collections).
  7. Select the folder from where you made the collection, and close all stacks (press 'S').

If you deviate from this procedure in any way, you will run into problems sooner or later, where either the sort order or the stacks get mangled. The only exception to the procedure you may do is where you set the sort order—that can actually be done at any time before you create the collection, but it is safest to do it as the last step, since this setting is not persistent if the folder has subfolders (child folders). The step to deselect all photos before you select them again (cmd-D) is actually of vital importance! The last step ensures that you may reorder photos in a collection without mangling the stacks.

The collection thus created may not take any subcollections (child collections)! If you make a subcollection, for instance by dragging another collection to it, then the sort order reverts to Capture Time! However, it may very well be dragged to an existing collections, and thus become a child collection. The net conclusion is this: If collections are made hierarchical, make sure only the leaves have photos—all the parent collections may only be containers of child collections.

The source(s) of the problem

The following lists some peculiarities in Lightroom that makes it necessary to follow the procedure above:

Harald E Brandt
Hägersten, Stockholm
Last updated: 2011-10-27 at 15:07:10 +0200