All my photos are quite disorganized and I found this option in the settings dialogue to import pictures and create new folders using this pattern: /home/username/pictures/<year>/<month>/<day> Shotwell also asked whether to link or copy the pictures and I chose to copy, but nonetheless they aren't copied.

What can I do?

  • Works fine here. Is your ~/Pictures a standard folder or a symbolic link to some space elsewhere (see this bug report)?
    – htorque
    Jun 18, 2011 at 22:21
  • Its a standard folder. Does it matter that its a German system and hence the folder name is "Bilder" instead? Jun 18, 2011 at 22:23
  • I doubt that, but you can try to choose a different folder like ~/test (something that's not a default folder, using Edit → Preferences).
    – htorque
    Jun 18, 2011 at 22:29
  • This actually worked Jun 18, 2011 at 22:40
  • Just to be sure: you don't try to import from a directory within ~/Pictures, do you?
    – htorque
    Jun 18, 2011 at 22:40

2 Answers 2


The problem is that Shotwell will only copy the photos if they are located outside your XDG Pictures directory (usually ~/Pictures). If they are located inside your Pictures directory, Shotwell does not copy or reorganize them. (It's a tough call, but there are a lot of people out there who absolutely, positively do NOT want us to move their photos because they've gone to a great deal of trouble to organize them in the first place.)

From reading the comments to your question, it looks like you hit on a workaround: import all the photos from a folder outside of Pictures and choose copy. Unfortunately this means removing all the photos from Shotwell and re-importing them, meaning you lose all changes you've made to them (edits, tags, etc.)

We do have a ticket for exactly what you're looking for: https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/shotwell/-/issues/1540 No idea when/if it'll be ready, but we'd like to offer it.

  • 1
    I updated the link.
    – Jim Nelson
    Jan 19, 2022 at 23:03

Move your images into a folder which isn't watched by Shotwell. Then start Shotwell and import the pictures (Ctrl+i). Now the pictures are new organized. I don't know about the problem mentioned here, because I always edited the pictures by GIMP and saved them as a new file.

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