Saturday, 1 August 2015

How to put a Lightroom Catalogue onto an external hard drive

What do you do when you run out of space for Lightroom

New laptops that have SSD's are fast but on the downside their storage space is small. So what do you do when you run out of disk space for all your RAW files that take up so much room? Or what if you use two computers and want to be able to work on your photos on both machines?
Answer: You work off a portable hard drive.

Sounds good, but how do you do it?

RAW files are pretty big, so to reduce them a little and to ensure future compatibility - I convert them to DNG's - Adobe's Digital Negative. The program to do this is free and available from Adobe's website.

How to Export a catalog and photos

If you already have a catalog and photos on your computer's hard drive you will need to export the catalog and photos to your external portable hard drive. The following instructions are for a Mac, but you should get the general idea to be able to work it out in Windows. You might want to consider creating a new catalog for different types of photos or destination etc. While it means you may have to close and reopen catalogs to access photos, it will speed processing up if the catalog is small.

In the Lightroom Library, click on the folder you want to export and from the menu choose:

> File > Export as Catalog

It will open up a dialog box where you put in a catalog name in the 'Save As' box at the top and then choose a location in the left hand side bar - which would be your external hard drive. Then Click 'Export Catalog' (bottom right). It will copy the catalog files and the photos to the new location.

How to access your new catalog

  1. Attach your portable hard drive to the computer that you wish to work on
  2. Click 'File', then 'Open Catalog'
  3. Drill down into the folders where you put the exported catalog until you find the file of the same name but with an ending of .lrcat which stands for lightroom catalog.
  4. Then click Open


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