When you create a catalog, you actually create a folder for it, too. The name of folder is the same as the name of the catalog, without the catalog suffix. For example, if you name the folder “Wedding Photos,” then catalog file will be “Wedding Photos.lrcat”. When you add photos to the catalog, Lightroom creates a preview cache file (such as “Wedding Photos Previews.lrdata”) and puts it in the folder with the catalog.
Create a catalog
Open a catalog
You can also change General preferences to specify which catalog opens when Lightroom starts. See Change the default catalog.
Upgrade a catalog from an earlier version of Lightroom
You can open, or import, a catalog from an earlier version of Lightroom, including a beta version, in a more recent version Lightroom. When you do, Lightroom upgrades it. The new, updated catalog contains all of the metadata associated the previous catalog and photos.
Important: When you upgrade a catalog, Lightroom leaves the old catalog untouched, makes a copy the old catalog, and renames its previews file. So, in addition to your new, upgraded catalog, you'll also have:
- old catalog.lrcat
- old catalog-2.lrcat
- old catalog Previews 2.lrdata
You can keep or delete these files.
Copy or move a catalog
Before copying or moving a catalog and preview files, back them up.
(Optional) If Lightroom can't find folders or photos in the copied or moved catalog, a Question Mark icon appears by folder names in the Folders panel and an Exclamation Point icon appears in photo thumbnails in the Grid view. To restore folder links, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) a folder with a Question Mark icon and choose Find Missing Folder. To relink individual photos, see Locate missing photos.
Export a catalog
You can create a catalog that contains a subset of a larger catalog by selecting the photos and exporting them as a new catalog. This is useful when, for example, you import photos into a catalog on a laptop and then later add them to a master catalog on a desktop computer.
To learn how to maintain a synchronized Lightroom catalog across multiple computers, watch the Synchronize Catalogs tutorial (08:12) from the Learn by Video series. Although this video was produced for Lightroom 3, it is accurate for newer versions of Lightroom.
Delete a catalog
Deleting a catalog erases all the work you’ve done in Lightroom that isn’t saved in the photo files. While the previews are deleted, the original photos being linked to are not deleted.
Using the Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac OS), locate the folder that contains your catalog and drag it to the Recycling Bin (Windows) or Trash (Mac OS).
Important: Make sure that the folder you delete contains only the catalog files you intend to erase, and not additional files.
To enhance performance, Lightroom builds a Previews folder next to the .lrcat file in the Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac OS). It is safe to delete this folder as long as its name matches the .lrcat file name. If you delete a Previews folder that’s still needed by a catalog, Lightroom will regenerate it when you work in that catalog, but it will run more slowly until the previews are rebuilt.
Change the default catalog
By default, Lightroom opens the most current catalog at startup. This behavior can be changed to opening a different catalog or to always prompting you to choose a catalog.
Customize catalog settings
Provides information such as the location, filename, and creation date of the catalog. Click Show to view the catalog file in Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac OS).
Lets you specify the frequency with which the current catalog is backed up. See Back up a catalog.
Determines how Lightroom renders three types of image previews. All previews are stored in the preview cache file in the folder where your catalog is located.
Standard Preview Size
Specifies the maximum length, in pixels, of the long side of full-size rendered previews. Choose a size that is equal to or larger than your screen resolution. For example, if your screen resolution is 1920 x 1200 pixels, choose Standard Preview Size > 2048 Pixels. If your screen resolution exceeds 2048 pixels, Lightroom generates a 1:1 preview instead.
Automatically Discard 1:1 Previews
This setting specifies when 1:1 previews are discarded based on the most recent access to the preview. 1:1 previews have the same pixel dimensions as the original photos, and show sharpening and noise reduction. They are rendered as needed and can make the catalog preview file large, so it's good to discard them periodically.
Indicates how much disk space is being used by Smart Previews. For information on using Smart Previews, see Smart Previews.
Import Sequence Numbers
Specifies starting sequence numbers for photos as you import into the catalog. Import Number is the first number in a series that identifies how many import operations are performed. Photos Imported is the first number in a series that identifies how many photos have been imported into the catalog. See The Filename Template Editor and Text Template Editor.
Offer Suggestions From Recently Entered Values
When you start typing a metadata entry that resembles a previous entry, one or more suggestions appear as you type. Deselect this option to turn it off. Click Clear All Suggestion Lists to clear previous entries.
Include Develop Settings In Metadata Inside JPEG, TIFF, PNG, And PSD Files
Deselect this option to prevent Lightroom from including Develop module settings in the XMP metadata of JPEG, TIFF, PNG, and PSD files.
Automatically Write Changes Into XMP
Select this option to save metadata changes directly to the XMP sidecar files, making the changes visible in other applications. Deselect this option to save metadata settings only in the catalog. For information on saving XMP changes manually, see About metadata and XMP.
Enable Reverse Geocoding of GPS Coordinates To Provide Address Suggestions
Allows Lightroom to send your photo's GPS coordinates, if available, to Google so that Lightroom can determine the city, state, and country of the photo and add that information into the IPTC Location metadata.
Export Reverse Geocoding Suggestions Whenever Address Fields Are Empty
If selected, Lightroom includes Google-suggested IPTC Location metadata in photos when you export them.
Optimize the catalog
After you have imported, edited, and perhaps removed a number of files, you may have to wait a significant amount of time while working in Lightroom. When that happens, optimize your catalog to improve performance.