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Adobe Lightroom 3.2 bug for image Import

Lightroom 3 scarfs random clip art, etc

Adobe Lightroom 3.2 has a troublesome bug when importing images. Troublesome because when it happens, the workaround is deselecting a few thousand images in hundreds of folders. Or foregoing Import. Or cleaning up the mess if you don’t notice before proceeding.

When the Import dialog comes up and it’s directed at a large folder of images, Lightroom 3 arbitrarily finds a few thousand extra random files: clip art, tiny jpegs, anything just about anywhere on the boot drive, even if you’re importing off some other volume. I found that this did not happen when trying smaller folders; there is some threshold effect, and possibly other triggers. I observed it both with LR 3.0 about 5 weeks ago, and also with version 3.2 yesterday.

If you fail to notice the 1000 or 5000 extra junk files (if your stuff is displayed at top), you end up importing all that junk, which then pollutes your catalog; you’ll have to manually remove every folder, and there can be hundreds of them. It appears to import every last tiny little gif or jpeg file found on the boot drive, anywhere in the applications folder, your home folder, etc.

I saw this behavior repeatedly during Import while working on a client’s Mac Pro, and a client of mine saw it on her own again; I cleaned up the mess, itself a headache because of usability issues in LR3 (removing a folder collapses the file hierarchy, forcing constant re-open and scroll each time).

Removing hundreds of junk folders carries a significant risk of removing a legitimate folder mixed in with the others, so in that sense it’s a potential data loss issue. Therefore, I consider this bug more than a simple nuisance.

From what I’ve seen so far, it appear to be purely an Import bug, not a catalog corruption issue, and the workaround is to (hopefully) notice that all the extra detritus is there, and to deselect it prior to Import—tedious but viable. When the problem occurs, there was no workaround; quittting and restarting Lightroom and trying Import again always produced the same random images mixed into the desired ones.

I don’t have the detailed screed dumps, etc, because the problems I observed were at a client’s site (catalog of about 17,000 images), and I don’t generally use Lightroom myself. But I am certain that there exists a problem in the Import dialog functionality.

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