Lightroom and moving your catalogue

There comes a time for a photographer when the inevitable happens – you’ve filled up the hard drive with photos, and you need to move your photos to a new hard drive.  I just did this, so I thought I’d write about it.

Normally, what you would do would just be to copy the files to a new hard drive.  No problem.  The issue lies with Adobe Lightroom, that heavily-used program for not only editing files, but also cataloguing them.  What you *should* do is move the files and folders within Lightroom.  But this is a tedious pain in the posterior, to say the least (I actually did this, and had to babysit the computer while it copied one folder at a time).

So you do what you do with everything else – just use Windows Explorer (or on the Mac, Finder) to move all your data.  Or you do what I did – move the Lightroom catalogue itself.  Either way, when you open up Lightroom again, you see in the Navigator pane a bunch of grayed-out folders with question marks on them.  To hammer home the point, Lightroom displays a message over the images in such a folder, “The file named ‘[blah blah blah]’ is offline or missing” (image 1).

No worries, though; there is a simple solution.  Just right-click (or Option-click) the question-marked folder, and a little menu appears with the very helpful “Find Missing Folder” item at the top (image 2).  Simply click on that, and an Explorer (Finder) box appears for you to locate the folder in question (image 3).  Once you do that, Lightroom quickly picks up on the location for that folder and all its subfolders (image 4).

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Lightroom and moving your catalogueBill Hornbostel
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