Re-importing photos in Windows 7

I’ve been setting up my new HP laptop this afternoon: installing Office and Norton and iTunes. All was going well, until I decided to import the photos from my camera using Windows 7′s Import Pictures and Videos feature. The first time I tried the import, I didn’t really think about it too much, went with the default options, and ended up with a whole lot of unsorted pictures – rather than the date-named folders I had on my previous computer.

I still had the files from my camera’s SD card, so I decided the best thing to do was to delete everything and  reimport them again. No luck there. Windows told me there were no new files, and thus there was nothing it could import.

It took me half an hour and several part-answers on online forums to find out how to reimport the photos, so I thought I’d reproduce the final solution here. I make no claims to be a Windows 7 expert. hidden files are probably hidden for a reason and I probably can’t answer any related questions. As such, I’d recommend that you don’t delete any files you can’t afford to lose before trying this fix (instead you could copy them into another folder on your computer, leaving your Pictures folder empty).

Step one: Accessing hidden files

Folder Options screen captureClick on the circle Windows Start icon in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen.

In the Search box, type Folder Options, and click on the option with that name in the search results.

When the Folder Options window opens, click on the View tab, and select the radio button next to Show hidden files, folders or drives.

Click on OK to save your changes.

This will allow you to find a database file called PreviouslyAquired. Which brings us to step two.

Step two: PreviouslyAquired

Right click on the Windows Start icon, and select Windows Explorer.

Navigate to: C:/users/[your account name]/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Photo Aquisition

If you can’t find the AppData folder, it may be because it’s still hidden (see step one). In the Photo Aquistion folder, you should find a file which is called PreviouslyAquired. If you click on the file’s name once and rename it PreviouslyAquired.old, Windows won’t be able to automatically find it when you attach your camera again. This should allow you to reimport your photos…

It did for me, at least.

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27 Responses to Re-importing photos in Windows 7

  1. hmmm – I’ve been nervous about upgrading Windows, which is why I still run XP – your experience hasn’t reassured me at all ;(

    • Natasha says:

      I had Windows Vista on my last computer. This has been a vastly better experience so far (so far being all of six hours). That said, it’s also a vastly better computer.

      Thanks for the feedback on my header :)

  2. PS I love your header!

  3. Patrick says:

    Thank you…after about 2 hours wasted looking for an answer, I found your instructions. Worked perfect.

    • Natasha says:

      Glad it helped! I also spent several hours trying to piece together a solution to this problem a couple of weeks ago, which inspired me to write this post.

  4. Mark says:

    Thanks Natasha!
    Your instructions were easy to follow and it worked prefect!

    Now if I can figure out why windows 7 doesn’t name my photos the same as my camera does, that would be great. My camera names the photo files 1 through 9999 and then starts over again, so there is a different number for each photo. Windows 7 names them 1 through however many photos are being imported in a given batch and then starts with 1 again on the next batch. This creates many duplicates of the same number which creates problems with my photo host (I sell products online).
    Windows XP named them the same as my camera did, so no problems. If anybody knows if this can be changed let me know.

    • Natasha says:

      Thanks Mark. Unfortunately, I’m no expert on photography or Windows 7, but hopefully someone else who comes through this site can help you out with this.

  5. Mark says:

    I figured it out.
    When you plug the camera into the computer and click to import the photos, a little window pops up asking if you want to ‘tag these pictures’. In the lower left of the window you can click ‘Import Settings’ and then go to ‘File Name’ and select ‘original file name +folder name’ (not worded exactly like that, but close. It’s the bottom choice ) from the drop down and then ckick ‘Ok’. Now it will keep the original file names that the camera names them. This was the default on XP but not on Windows 7.

    Here’s a link to a page that explains how to change your import settings:

    Thanks again! (-;

  6. a says:

    AMAZING!!! i was going crazy to do that and finally i found this post! ty friend

  7. Debbie says:

    Made the exact same mistake you did, imported photos before adjusting the import settings. I wasted an hour trying to figure this out before stumbling on your solution. Thanks.

  8. Jake says:

    Thanks after about a day looking for an answer in every different forum, I found your instructions. Worked more than perfect.

  9. Martin says:

    Hi Natasha,

    great hint on that issue. I recently figured out how to sync my iPhone photos with windows that way, because iTunes can only sync photos TO the iPhone, but not FROM it! So I stumbled across the same stupid (sorry MS, that’s what it is!) restriction… ehm… feature. ;-)

    Anyway, you always have to delete that mentioned “PreviouslyAcquired.db” for a re-sync, don’t you? Well… NO! Just use the following steps and you never have to worry about that file:
    - delete that file “PreviouslyAcquired.db” in the folder “C:\Users\\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Photo Acquisition” (Natasha’s step one)
    - make sure the option “Hide extensions for known file types” in the Folder Options (screen at Natasha’s step one) is disabled (you can enable it again when finished)
    - create a new textfile and rename it to “PreviouslyAcquired.db” (no .txt ending!)
    - right-click on it -> Properties
    - now enable the read-only protection and click OK/Apply

    Now the file is empty and read-only for windows, so windows can not log (or remember) your syncs. Now you can re-sync as often you want, but watch out – there is an important drawback: each time you sync to the same folder (because of the same tag name, or sync date, or whatever you configured in the Import Setting), windows loads ALL photos from your device. And if they already exist, windows does not ask to overwrite them (thanks MS!) but instead appends “(2)”, “(3)” etc. on the new duplicate ones! So it’s your decision if you can handle that drawback… I do ;-)

    Greetings from Germany and happy syncing.

  10. Martin says:

    Sorry, the Blog software ate my placeholder… ;-) the path is (as Natasha already wrote):
    “C:\Users\[your account name]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Photo Acquisition”

  11. Nirav says:

    It worked. Thanks… Nirav

  12. Nany says:


  13. Stormi says:

    Fantastic. Thanks so much – worked perfectly and I “only” wasted a couple hours trying to figure it out on my own!

  14. Anastasia says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this post!

  15. Gianpaolo says:

    Thanks a lot!

  16. Arv says:

    This really helped me – thanks!

  17. Josh says:

    Thanks Natasha and Martin!!! Same here, was wasting alil time trying to figure this out on my own until I googled and for a few minutes came across this. Thanks again guys :)

  18. Bill says:

    Thanks – saved me working it out!

  19. Bernadette Coyne says:

    Thank you so much!
    I had accidentally deleted my pics & now I have them again!


  20. John B says:

    Your suggestion worked for me, so I owe you thanks, too! Lessee, maybe the UI for Import Settings should have a checkbox for “Re-import”? Nah, too easy and straightforward! Like the government, MS knows what’s best for us.

  21. Drew W says:

    Thanks, this sounds like my solution. Had the same issue as you. Imported 5000 pics with bad choices on the import options. I thought I would beat it by moving the pics to an external drive but I guess that’s not going to work. I’ll check in 45 min when the file transfer is done! Perhaps since your original post MicroSoftBrain has fixed this with an update. We’ll see.

  22. Drew W says:

    After moving the pics off the hard drive Windows still thought they were there. Your file re-name trick worked. Thanks for the tip. Consider yourself a hacker.

  23. Drew W says:

    Martin, that’s yet another great hack, and having windows suffix a file name is the way it should be anyway, after a thoughtful warning of course.

  24. Shona says:

    THANK YOU!! This sorted out my problem so quickly, thank you again :D

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