How To Move A LightRoom Catalog

There are several reasons why you might need to relocate your Lightroom catalog. Whether it’s to conserve space, share with another photographer, or store it on an external hard drive, it’s crucial to learn how to safely move your catalog. After all, it contains valuable information! This blog post will provide you with everything you need to know about transferring, duplicate, or sharing your Lightroom catalogs.

Move LightRoom Catalog

What Is LightRoom Catalog?

Think of a Lightroom catalog as the storage space for image information. Each catalog you create will store all the details including location info, ratings, keywords, image adjustments, and more! Any information about your photo, other than the actual image file, is stored within your Lightroom Catalog.

Catalogs are an perfect way to organize your photos based on location or project. For instance, you could create a catalog for a recent wedding or event you photographed. You could also have a separate catalog for all your vacation pictures from Europe, and another for your portfolio images.

The number of catalogs you use is entirely up to you, but they provide a valuable means to categorize your pictures.

Difference Between Moving And Copying Lightroom Catalog

While this may appear as a straightforward response, it is crucial to bear in mind prior to making any alterations to a catalog.


Relocating a Lightroom catalog involves shifting it from its current destination to another. Subsequently, the catalog can only be accessed from its newly saved location, rather than its original location.


On the other hand, copying a Lightroom catalog entails duplicating it from one location and creating an additional copy at a different location. Resultantly, there exist two versions of the catalog, saved in clearly places.

Whether you prefer to move or copy your Lightroom catalog before proceeding with these steps!

When transferring your Catalog to a new device or hard drive, make sure to also transfer the corresponding image files. The LightRoom contains only file information, not the actual image files themselves.

If you access the catalog from a device that is separate from the image files, they will become unlinked. To avoid this problem, ensure that you transfer any required image files to your new device after moving the catalog.

Steps To Move A Lightroom Catalog

Here’s a simple guide on how to move your catalog. Just follow these steps, and you’ll be done in no time!

Locate And Access Your Lightroom Catalog

To move a catalog, you must first locate it. Instead of searching through your computer files, simplify the process by utilizing Lightroom’s assist.

Access the menu bar and select Lightroom Classic > Catalog Settings (Mac) or Edit > Catalog Settings (Win).

Locate in LightRoom And Setting

Within the general tab of your catalog settings, you can locate the Lightroom Catalog. Click on ‘Show’ to reveal the file on your computer.

Select Your Catalog And Move It To A New Location

Now that you have access to your Lightroom Catalog file (.LRCAT), it’s time to move or duplicate it.

To move the catalog, simply click and drag all associated files to a new location, like an external hard drive.

Select LightRoom Catalog

To duplicate the catalog, select all the relevant files, right-click, and choose the ‘copy‘ option.

To access your new location, simply right-click and select ‘paste’. The transfer time may vary depending on the file size of your catalog.

It’s New Location

To make sure your catalog is working, it’s time to open it up.

Double click on the .LRCAT file to open the catalog in Lightroom.

Ensure that everything appears as it should.

Confirm It’s New Location

To ensure that your catalog is being accessed from the new location, it’s worth double-checking.

Just as you did before, navigate to Lightroom Classic > Catalog Settings.

In the General tab, the location should be specified as the new save location.

Watch the “Video Tutorial” below to understand the above mentioned steps easily.

Why Should You Move Your LightRoom Catalog

There are a few reasons why it might be a good idea to relocate your Catalog. Let’s explore the three main motives for doing this.

Why Should You Move Your LightRoom Catalog

Running Out Of Disk Space

The primary reason is that you are facing storage problems. If your computer has limited memory, transferring your catalog to an external hard drive could resolve this issue.

Access Your Catalog

There are two key reasons for moving your Catalog: The first is when you need to edit from a different computer. Many individuals work from both their desktop and laptop devices. Instead of starting from scratch with file organization and image adjustments, you can simply copy your catalog.

This will enable you to seamlessly work from another computer, assuming you have the actual image files stored on both devices, of course.

It’s essential to note that copying a catalog does not sync them in the future. Making a change on one computer does not automatically reflect on the other, even if you’re using the same catalog.

By copying your Catalog, you’re only creating a duplicate to work with. The two copies are not interconnected.

Create A Backup Lightroom Catalog

One of the reasons to consider moving or copying a Catalog is to create a backup. If you want extra reassurance that your Lightroom data is secure, you can always make a copy of the catalog.

By doing this, you can have access to a duplicate on another hard drive in case something goes wrong.

New Location for Catalog

While Lightroom does automatically back up catalogs periodically, the problem is that it backs them up to the same location. This is fine if one of your catalogs gets corrupted, but you’ll be in trouble if the entire hard drive fails.

To address this potential issue, you can move your Lightroom catalog to a separate external hard drive.


  • Organization
  • Space management
  • Performance
  • Backup and Redundancy
  • prortability


  • Complexity
  • Time consuming
  • Reconnection of Files
  • relinking photos.


Moving a Lightroom catalog is a straightforward process that only takes a few minutes. By practicing the outlined methods, you can ensure the safety of your catalogs during the transfer. After all, what’s the use of moving them if they don’t function properly in their new location?

These methods are designed to assist you in moving your catalog to any desired location, whether it’s a new folder, an external hard drive, or an entirely different computer. The process remains the same regardless of where you choose to transfer the catalog! Lastly, remember that when moving your Lightroom catalog, only the image information is transferred, not the actual photos. If you’re moving the catalog to a new hard drive, the files will remain unlinked until you also copy them over.


How do I open a different catalog in Lightroom?

To access a different catalog in Lightroom, navigate to File > Open Catalog and browse to the location of the desired catalog.

How do I recover a lost or corrupted Lightroom catalog?

To retrieve a lost or corrupted Lightroom catalog, Adobe provides various tools and resources, including the Lightroom Catalog Recovery Utility.

How do I move a Lightroom catalog to a new location?

To transfer a Lightroom catalog to a different location, first, close Lightroom. Then, proceed to copy or move the catalog file along with all its associated files to the new destination.

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