Laura Shoe's Lightroom (and Occasionally Photoshop) Blog for Digital Photographers

How to Move Your Lightroom Catalog

In Uncategorized on December 10, 2008 at 5:31 pm

I have written about moving your Lightroom work from your laptop to your desktop (or any two computers) here. This involves exporting your work on the laptop as a catalog, then importing it into your desktop catalog.

Sometimes though you may want to simply move your catalog. Mine was initially on an external hard drive; I then decided to move it to my internal C: drive because it would read and write faster.

The first step in doing this is finding out where it is stored currently.

  • In Lightroom go to Edit>Catalog Settings on the PC, or Lightroom>Catalog Settings on the Mac.
  • In the General Tab, the location of your catalog is shown.
  • Click on the Show button to open up a Mac Finder or Windows Explorer window with this catalog folder highlighted.

Finding Your Catalog Using the Catalog Settings Dialog

  • Next, open up a second Windows Explorer or Finder window; navigate to where you want to put your catalog folder, and then drag the Lightroom Catalog folder from its current location in the first window to its new location in the second window.
  • Holding down the Alt or Option key, open Lightroom. Now, in the dialog box click on the Change button next to the catalog location, and navigate to the .lrcat file within the Lightroom Catalog folder in its new location.  Click on it once to select it, and hit OK.
  • Lightroom will open, recognizing the new location of your catalog.


PS:  Note that if you want to delete a catalog, just delete the Lightroom Catalog folder.

  1. […] If you are not sure where your catalog is, or you know where it is and you want to move it, see this post on how to do […]

  2. Great tip. I didn’t know I had my catalogue in a stupid place…and with a stupid name!
    Now I have catalogue and photos in one place, easy to understand, easy to copy to laptop, easy to backup.
    Sorted – many thanks.

  3. hi laura
    i have tried this, copying the catalog file from the external hard drive where it was, onto my laptop hard drive. i can open the catalog file which is on the laptop and see all the previews, etc fine. but if i go to develop, say, it says that the image file is missing. so the new catalog file is not seeing all the original images that are still on the external drive. how do i get round this?

  4. Hi David, I’m not sure why LR lost the connection to the images, but see this post for how to reestablish it:

  5. Thanks very much Laura – that has solved it! Knowing to right click on a question mark and click ‘find missing file’ is great to know.

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