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Move Lightroom Catalog to a New Computer – A Step by Step Guide

Move Lightroom Catalog to a New Computer – A Step by Step Guide
How to Move Lightroom to a New Computer – A Step by Step GuideHow to Move Lightroom to a New Computer – A Step by Step Guide

Shifting a Lightroom Catalog to a new pc may sound like a scary proposition to many photographers. However, since we modify computer systems each three to 5 years, it’s unavoidable. That’s the reason I deal with it as a part of my images workflow.

Since I began utilizing Lightroom, I’ve migrated my Lightroom catalog at the very least 4 occasions. Right now, I give you my methodical, step by step strategy.

First, I don’t deal with my Lightroom setup as a monolith set up; it’s extra like a multi-piece entity with its elements scattered throughout totally different corners of my pc.

Let me clarify.


I hold my Lightroom set up with the grasp catalog, configuration information, and previews on my main SSD (strong state drive) onerous drive. This can be very quick however comparatively small at solely 500 GB. Because of this I can’t retailer my whole photograph library (a complete of 5 TB) subsequent to my grasp catalog.

I’ve a typical exhausting drive (eight TB) devoted to my photograph library.

Lastly, I hold my Lightroom catalog backups on a separate arduous drive the place I retailer all my archived information and the assets I don’t use on a common foundation.

I deal with the method of migrating Lightroom to a new pc as a multistep course of the place I tackle the totally different elements of the Lightroom setup individually.

The method of migrating Lightroom to a new pc may be damaged down into seven elements, two of that are non-compulsory.

  • Lightroom Set up
  • Photograph Library
  • Lightroom Catalog
  • Configuration and Settings
  • Re-link the Lacking Folders
  • Preview Information (non-compulsory)
  • Catalog Backups (non-compulsory)

Once you tackle every element individually, the entire course of turns into very logical and uncomplicated.

Step 1: Set up Lightroom

Earlier than you possibly can set up Lightroom, you will need to set up the Artistic Cloud software in your new pc.

Install Creative Cloud Install Creative Cloud

After putting in the Artistic Cloud app, you have to authenticate it utilizing your Artistic Cloud credentials.

Subsequent, deploy Lightroom by triggering the set up from the Artistic Cloud app.

Install LightroomInstall Lightroom

As you in all probability know, Artistic Cloud permits you to set up Lightroom to two totally different computer systems (Mac and PC). In case you have already put in and activated Lightroom on two computer systems, you have to go to the Artistic Cloud net portal (Plans & Merchandise tab) and disconnect one in every of your installations.

Creative Cloud - Remove Activated DeviceCreative Cloud - Remove Activated Device

TIP: Just remember to don’t disconnect the pc from which you’re at present performing the migration. You will want to entry it a number of occasions all through the migration course of.

In my case, I’ve Lightroom activated on my desktop and on my journey laptop computer. Once I begin the migration course of, I deactivate my laptop computer set up in order that I can use Lightroom on my previous and new computer systems in the course of the migration.

Step 2: Migrate Your Photograph Library

Earlier than you begin shifting your photograph library to a new pc, make sure that it’s nicely organized.

I’ve a devoted tutorial referred to as “Lightroom Organization in 3 Easy Steps” the place I define the library construction that I exploit in my images. The thought behind library group is predicated on the idea of getting all of your picture information saved in a single location beneath the umbrella of the grasp listing.

Move lightroom catalog to new computer: One folder OrganizationMove lightroom catalog to new computer: One folder Organization

This group type makes it extremely easy to again up your pictures. It additionally makes it straightforward to transfer your complete library from one location to one other.

In case your pictures are scattered throughout totally different drives and directories, you’ll have a arduous time managing your library.

Earlier than beginning the migration, I strongly advocate that you simply conform your photograph library into a one-directory construction.

TIP: Be sure to arrange your library from inside Lightroom utilizing the Folders Panel within the Library Module. When you use Explorer (Win) or Finder (Mac) to transfer your picture information round, Lightroom will be unable to monitor these modifications.

Conform your photo library into a one-directory structure.Conform your photo library into a one-directory structure.

As soon as your library is so as, use an exterior onerous drive to copy your whole library to your new pc.

In case you are migrating your Lightroom set up to a laptop computer with inadequate exhausting drive area, use an exterior onerous drive to retailer your whole photograph library. Make certain the exterior arduous drive is excessive velocity and dependable. You will discover a few of my onerous drive suggestions right here: Greatest Exterior Exhausting Drives for Photographers

Step three: Migrate the Lightroom Catalog

The subsequent step is to transfer the catalog file to a new pc. The Lightroom Catalog is a database the place the appliance shops the details about the photographs and their group.

Associated: How to Handle and Merge Lightroom Catalogs for Journey Photographers

It isn’t all the time straightforward to find a catalog file as a result of, typically, it’s buried deep inside your pc’s set up folders. Fortuitously, Lightroom supplies us with a shortcut to an lively catalog location.

From the highest menu, choose EDIT (Lightroom on Mac)  > Catalog Settings… Go to the Basic tab and click on the SHOW button. It will take you to the listing the place the Lightroom catalog resides.

Move lightroom catalog to new computer - Step 3: Migrate the Lightroom Catalog Move lightroom catalog to new computer - Step 3: Migrate the Lightroom Catalog

The Lightroom catalog has an .lrcat extension.

Move lightroom catalog to new computer: Locating Catalog FileMove lightroom catalog to new computer: Locating Catalog File

You’ll need to copy the catalog file to your new pc.

I extremely advocate that you simply hold your catalog file in your quickest drive, ideally on a strong state drive (SSD).

Associated: 6 Ideas to Velocity Up Lightroom Efficiency

Step four: Copy Configuration, Settings, and Presets

Lightroom combines all of the settings, configuration information and presets beneath the Lightroom Settings listing.

The listing incorporates a large quantity of data associated to your Lightroom Catalog.  It shops all of the develop presets, import and export presets, metadata presets, key phrase units and so forth. If you don’t import all of the configuration info to your new set up, it will probably take weeks and even months to recreate it. Importing the listing is an important step of the migrating course of.

Relying in your preferences, the Lightroom Settings listing might be situated within the catalog listing or within the Lightroom set up folder.

Move lightroom catalog to new computer: Setting Catalog LocationMove lightroom catalog to new computer: Setting Catalog Location

Use Location checkbox in Lightroom Preferences to retailer Lightroom Settings within the Catalog Folder.

In my case, I exploit one catalog group and like to retailer all my configuration information and presets subsequent to my catalog file. This helps me localize all catalog associated knowledge in a single location, however it additionally signifies that the settings and presets can’t be shared throughout a number of catalogs.

Move lightroom catalog to new computer: Lightroom SettingsMove lightroom catalog to new computer: Lightroom Settings

It’s essential to copy the complete Lightroom Settings folder to a new pc and place them in a new catalog folder or a new Lightroom set up listing.

Step 5: Re-link the New Catalog with the Photograph Library

When you have got accomplished the 4 earlier steps, you’re prepared to launch your imported Lightroom Catalog on a new pc.

The prospect that the file construction in your new machine is equivalent to your previous one could be very slim. Because of this Lightroom gained’t have the opportunity to discover your photographs as a result of they’re saved in a totally different location.

If you see a query mark subsequent to a folder contained in the Lightroom Library module, which means it has no concept the place to discover them and that you simply want to re-link the lacking folders to level them to a new picture location.

Step 6: Re-link the New Catalog with the Photo LibraryStep 6: Re-link the New Catalog with the Photo Library

The excellent news is that you simply would not have to do that for each folder. All you’ve to do is true click on on the prime of the dad or mum folder and level to the brand new location the place you positioned the photograph library in Step 2. Lightroom will do the remaining by mapping all of the folders to their new places.

Step 6: Migrate Previews (Non-compulsory)

The best way Lightroom works is that for every photograph you import, to catalog it creates a preview file(s) or a JPEG model of your unique picture. Relying in your preferences, Lightroom may create a full-size JPEG model of your RAW file plus a smaller model for those who use Sensible Previews. The preview information are a vital a part of Lightroom’s non-destructive RAW workflow.

Move lightroom catalog to new computer: Migrate PreviewMove lightroom catalog to new computer: Migrate Preview

I do know that many photographers copy their unique preview information to a new pc, however I by no means do.

In Lightroom Preferences, you possibly can specify how lengthy you need to hold full-size previews earlier than they’re discarded. Due to the restricted disk area on my main SSD drive, I exploit the 30-day choice. Which means if I don’t use a specific picture for longer than 30 days, Lightroom discards its preview. However, I discover that Lightroom doesn’t handle this feature very properly. Over a interval of months, the preview folder measurement grows uncontrolled and I’ve to manually delete the previews to recuperate worthwhile disk area.

The migration course of provides me a chance to begin the preview era course of from scratch with out importing any pointless information.

When I’m completed with the migration, I can start recreating preview information as I want them by utilizing the guide technique in Library Module.

TIP: Mix Steps three, four and 5 into one motion
Since Lightroom shops the Catalog, Settings and Previews contained in the catalog folder, it is sensible to mix steps three, four and 5 into a single transfer by copying all the catalog folder with all its content material to a new pc.

Step 7: Move Catalog Backups (Optionally available)

Lightroom has a built-in performance to again up the catalog information in case the grasp catalog is corrupt. That is a very important performance as a result of the catalog information include years of accrued info. For those who lose it, it is going to be a catastrophe.

In my case, the backup course of is about to a weekly schedule. Nevertheless, you possibly can configure it to a totally different frequency.

By default, Lightroom shops catalog backup information contained in the Catalog folder.

Move lightroom catalog to new computer: Lightroom Backups Move lightroom catalog to new computer: Lightroom Backups

However, it’s extremely beneficial that you simply use a totally different location out of your grasp drive the place the catalog resides. The logic right here is that in case your grasp drive fails, you’ll have a backup that’s intact on one other drive.

Move lightroom catalog to new computer: Catalog Backup Settings Move lightroom catalog to new computer: Catalog Backup Settings

Whereas it is strongly recommended that you simply import backup information to a new set up, it isn’t crucial.

Within the 12 years that I’ve used Lightroom, I’ve by no means had any points with catalog information so I’m not very paranoid on this regard.

Once I full the migration course of and every little thing seems to be good, I create the primary backup on a new pc and that is greater than sufficient for me. Plus, I all the time have a few variations of the catalog backup saved on my Backblaze cloud.

Wrapping Up

Shifting the Lightroom Catalog to a new location is a critical enterprise and might be a disastrous expertise if carried out incorrect. However, when you comply with the outlined steps, the method might be painless and could be accomplished very quickly in any respect!