Ratings, Flags, and Folders: How to Organize Your Photos in Luminar

Do you want to organize your photos in Luminar, but you just don’t know where to start?

Don’t worry.

organizing in luminar

Because this article will tell you everything you need to know about organizing photos in Luminar–so that your photos are carefully curated and stored.

Sound good?

Let’s dive right in.

Luminar Importing: How to Quickly Import Photos into the Luminar Library

If you’re looking to get your Luminar catalog up and running quickly, you’re first going to need to understand what happens when you import photos–and how importing actually works.

If you’re looking for a simple video tutorial, look no further!

We’ve got you covered with this easy to follow video:

Ratings, Flags, and Folders: How to Organize Your Photos in Luminar

Discover how to quickly and efficiently organize your photos in Luminar.

So let’s start at the beginning:

Luminar is a catalog-based photo organizer.

Which means that every Luminar catalog you create is like a bucket–into which you dump more photos.

Most Luminar users will only work in one catalog–the catalog they had when they started out in Luminar. If you only want one catalog, then it’s absolutely fine to continue working in the original.

But for those of you who do, say, photography for business and photography for pleasure, you may want to create a different catalog for your two different types of photography to keep your images separate.

To create a new catalog, click File, then Catalog.

new catalog

Select New, and you’ll be prompted to choose your new catalog’s location:

setting up a catalog

Click Save, and Luminar will open your new catalog.

(Note that you can always go back to your original catalog by tapping File, Catalog, then Open.)

Once you’re in the correct catalog, it’s time to import photos for editing.

To import photos to Luminar, tap File, then Add Folder With Images:

adding folders into luminar

Alternatively, you can hit the Plus icon along the toolbar at the top of the Luminar window:


You’ll be prompted to select the folder you’d like to import. Note that you won’t be able to choose files individually here; you must import a folder.

If you wish to work with individual files, you’ll need to hit File, then Edit Single Image instead.

Or hit the Plus icon, then tap Edit Single Image.

Once you’ve selected your folder or single image, Luminar will go to work generating previews and integrating the image(s) into the catalog.

And your photos will be accessible in Luminar.

Now let’s look at how you can organize your newly-imported photos:

Luminar Folders and Albums: What’s the Difference?

There are two methods of organizing your photos in Luminar:

Via Albums, and via Folders.

Now, Folders are Luminar’s default organization tool. Whenever you import a folder of images into Luminar, a corresponding Luminar folder is created:

albums and folders

But note that Luminar’s folder structure corresponds to the actual folder structure on your desktop. Once you import a folder, you’re free to drag and drop photos from that folder to other folders, but this will move the actual photos in their corresponding locations.

You can also create subfolders by right-clicking on the top-level folder, and selecting New Subfolder:

adding a subfolder

But this will also create a subfolder within the corresponding folder structure on your PC.

Albums, on the other hand, are only created at your direction; Luminar won’t create an album unless you click on the Album Plus icon:

adding an album luminar organize

Albums also have no desktop correspondence. So you can create as many Albums as you like, you can drag and drop as many photos as you like into them and out of them, and you won’t change a thing in your actual computer file system.

So while you can technically organize your Luminar catalog through either Albums or Folders, I wholeheartedly recommend working with Albums. They give you some organizational options–without messing around with your true folder structure.

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In fact, I recommend that you avoid the Folders area entirely, except for situations where you’re trying to find (but not move!) photos.

The main drawback to Albums is that they only allow for a single level of organization. You cannot put an album within another album.

So if you do need greater complexity in your organization, you might want to try the Luminar organization tools:

Luminar Organization Tools: Flag, Color, and Rating

Luminar includes three simple ways of organizing individual images:

By flagging (or rejecting).

By assigning color labels.

And by assigning a star rating.

Note that all three of these options are accessible below every image when using Loupe view:

loupe view in luminar

To add one of the five possible colors, click on the Color icon and select the desired option:

(You can also hit the 6, 7, 8, or 9 key to do quick color labeling.)

To flag a photo, tap on the Flag icon (or hit the P key).

To unflag a photo, tap the Flag icon once more (or hit the U key).

To reject a photo, tap the Reject icon (or hit the X key):

And to give a photo a star rating, click on the desired amount of stars, or hit the corresponding number key (e.g., tap 3 to assign three stars to a photo).

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A Basic Way to Organize Photos in Luminar

Now that you understand how photo organization works within Luminar, I’m going to share with you my suggested organizational workflow. This should keep your images neat and organized within the Luminar interface, and will allow for easy editing and access.

First, I recommend that you create an album for every photography topic you engage in:

So if you shoot portraits, street photos, and macro, you could create a Portrait album, a Street album, and a Macro album.

albums to organize photos in Luminar

And if you shoot street photos exclusively, you might categorize by location, instead, with an album for New York, an album for Los Angeles, etc.

Then, whenever you import new photos, make sure you place them in the corresponding album.

(It’s crucial that you stay on top of this! Don’t fall behind with sorting your photos. Otherwise, things will get very messy, very fast.)

Once you have your albums, I recommend you do a run-through of your images, and assign Pick labels to the ones that you think are worth considering for editing. Don’t be super selective, here. If the image has potential, give it a pick.

And if an image is fundamentally bad, reject it. I’m talking about photos that are blurry, miss focus, etc.–photos that you’re not ever going to need.

Then do another run-through, but only look at the Flagged photos. To filter your catalog this way, make sure you’re in the Grid view, then tap the Showing: All Photos menu:

All photos toggle

And select Favorites.


Then give each of these photos a star rating. This is where you want to be a bit more selective; don’t give every photo a five-star rating. Instead, be honest with yourself, and only give your best images four or five stars. For images that you’re not a fan of, and that you don’t think you’ll use, you can give no stars at all.

And that’s it!

If you follow the instructions I’ve given above, you’ll have a three-level catalog:

  • Albums.
  • Picks.
  • Then stars.

It’s an easy way to keep things nice and organized–so that the next time you need to find some photos, you’ll know exactly where to look.

How to Organize Your Photos in Luminar: Conclusion

Now that you’ve finished this article, you have a quick and easy way of organizing your Luminar photos.

Plus, you know everything you need to about working with the Luminar organization tools.

So head over to Luminar and start organizing!

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How should I organize my photos in Luminar?

I recommend you organize your Luminar photos by creating Albums for each of your broad photography topics. Within each Album, flag the photos that you like, and give the flagged photos a star rating.

What is the difference between Luminar albums and Luminar folders?

Luminar albums are created within Luminar; therefore, they don’t correspond to an external file structure. Luminar folders are created automatically upon import (though you’re free to create subfolders from within Luminar). They correspond to folders external to Luminar.

How do I assign ratings to my photos in Luminar?

To assign ratings to your Luminar photos, you can click on the corresponding number of stars underneath the photo. You can also hit the corresponding number on your keyboard (1 for one star, 5 for five stars, etc.).

How do I flag and unflag photos in Luminar?

To flag photos in Luminar, click on the Heart icon that’s present under every photo in Loupe view (you can also find it in the bottom right corner of every photo in Grid view). Another way to flag photos is by selecting the photo, then tapping P on your keyboard. To unflag photos in Luminar, click on the Heart icon again, or tap U on your keyboard.

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