Lightroom - Moving the Catalog

When the number of images you have in Lightroom gets very large your catalog will get very large, and the Previews file will get even larger.  You bought an external drive, but how do you move the catalog onto that drive?  It is actually easier than you might imagine.

First things first.  The Catalog and Previews should be on a fast drive, either an SSD or a 7200 RPM spinning platter, with a USB 3 interface.

The next step is to make note where your current catalog resides.  To find that out, open Lightroom.  If you are running Lightroom Classic CC, then Navigate to Lightroom>Catalog Settings.  The Menu should look something like this:


Choose the Catalog Settings selection and this daughter screen should pop-up:

Make note of the Location and File Name.  Then close Lightroom.  Navigate to the folder where the catalog should be.  The IMPORTANT thing here is to move the .lrcat file AND the .lrdata file together.  If the catalog is named Lightroom Catalog-2.lrcat then the preview file will be named Lightroom Catalog-2 Previews.lrdata.  Most likely both of the files will be in a folder named Lightroom.

Simply drag the folder containing those two files (or the two files themselves) to the new desired location (the external drive, for example),  

Here is the magic part.  Double-click the lrcat file in the new location and Lightroom should open with the catalog now registered in the moved location!

If you see files with the type lrcat-wal or lrcat-lock then Lightroom is open.  These are temporary files which will disappear when Lightroom closes.

You can delete the old catalog, which will likely be in the old location, in order to free up lots of space.  If you are like me, however, here is a belt and suspenders approach.  Create a Purgatory folder on some drive with lots of space.  If you ever need more space on that drive you can delete the Purgatory folder sometime in the future.  And, if tomorrow you need to go backwards and locate the old catalog file, it will still be intact.

--© Robert Rose 2018