A catalog is a database that tracks the location of your photos and information about them. When you edit photos, rate them, add keywords to them, or do anything to photos in Lightroom Classic - all those changes are stored in the catalog. The files themselves are not touched.
When you start Lightroom Classic for the first time, an empty catalog file (for example, Lightroom 5 Catalog.lrcat) is automatically created. To start working with this default and empty catalog, click the Import button.
See Open a file in Explorer or Finder to learn about where your images are saved. Do note that your images are not stored in the Lightroom Classic app.
Your Lightroom Classic catalogs are located in the following folders, by default:
- Windows: \Users\[user name]\Pictures\Lightroom
- macOS: /Users/[user name]/Pictures/Lightroom
To check your default catalog, choose Edit > Preferences > General and check Default Catalog.
For more information, see:
If you've moved your catalog and can't remember where it is, search for "lrcat" in the Explorer (Windows) or Finder (macOS).
You can easily upgrade your old catalog in the new version of Lightroom Classic. See Upgrade a catalog from an earlier version of Lightroom Classic.
If you are having trouble in upgrading a catalog, open the old catalog in your previous version of Lightroom Classic and export it as a new catalog. You can then import the exported catalog into the new version of Lightroom Classic. For more information, see Export a catalog or watch this video tutorial.
Looking for a video tutorial? We've got you covered. See Merging individual catalogs into a master catalog.
The easiest way to use your Lightroom Classic catalog on more than one computer (such as a desktop and laptop) is to keep the catalog and photos together on an external drive. Then, you can set that catalog as the default catalog in Lightroom Classic Preferences.
Using multiple catalogs is not recommended. To know more, see Benefits of using a single catalog.
You can move your catalog to a different location on your computer's hard drive, to an external disk, or to another computer altogether. For details, see Move a catalog.
- When you move a catalog, you're not moving any photos nor are you moving the Lightroom Classic app itself.
- After you move your catalog, you may need to help Lightroom Classic find it. See Lightroom Classic can't find my catalog. How do I find it?
- Looking for a video tutorial? We've got you covered. See How to migrate Lightroom Classic catalog to a new computer.
To open a different catalog, choose File > Open Catalog, navigate to the location of the catalog you want to open, and click Open.
If you have multiple catalogs, you can tell Lightroom Classic which one to open when you start the program. To know more, see Change the default catalog.
It is not recommended to use multiple catalogs. To know more, see Benefits of using a single catalog.
No, the catalogs in Lightroom Classic aren't backward compatible. Catalogs from a new Lightroom Classic version cannot be opened in the older versions.
When you try to open a catalog from a new version into an older Lightroom Classic version, you get a dialog displaying: The Lightroom catalog named [Your Catalog Name] cannot be opened because it is too new to be used by this version of Lightroom.
To work in the older versions, import the required photos into Lightroom Classic and create another catalog from that version.
|Lightroom Classic 8.x||
|Lightroom Classic CC 7.x||
|Lightroom CC 2015.x||
You can rename a catalog in the Explorer (Windows) or Finder (macOS). If you rename a catalog, make sure you rename its corresponding Previews and Smart Previews files as well.
After you rename your catalog, you may need to help Lightroom Classic find it. See Lightroom Classic can't find my catalog. How do I find it?
To export a folder as a catalog, in the Folders panel of the Library module, right-click (Windows)/Control-click (macOS) the folder you want to export. From the context menu, select Export this Folder as a Catalog.
Backing up your catalog does not back up the photos it references. To understand what a catalog is, see What is a catalog?
No, but you can sync smart previews of your photos from Lightroom Classic to the Lightroom ecosystem. To know more, see Sync Lightroom Classic with Lightroom ecosystem.
To learn how to delete a catalog, see Delete a catalog.
No, you can't store catalogs on a network but you can store or share your photos on a network. Smart Previews let you edit your photos in Lightroom Classic even when you are disconnected from the network or when your computer is disconnected from the drive that has your photos.
If you move or rename your catalog and then try to open Lightroom Classic, you could encounter an error such as Lightroom catalog was not found.