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Migrating a Lightroom Catalog

One question I seem to get asked a lot is, “how do I move my Lightroom Catalog to another machine, and keep all my edits, collections, and metadata?” In today’s video, I’ll show you a quick and easy way to get your Lightroom catalog from one machine to another, without losing any data.

In this example, we see the process using Lightroom 4, but the process hasn’t changed since the first version of Lightroom, so everyone can use this tip.

About Michael Hoffman (224 Articles)
Mike has been a photographer, artist, educator, and technophile for most of his life. Early in his career, he created technical illustrations and photographs for electronic equipment manufacturers, and taught classes in computer aided drafting and 3D modeling software. When digital cameras became widely available in the late 1990s, the move was a natural one, and has led to a happy combination of technology, software, photography and art. Mike is an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop and Acrobat, and is well versed in Lightroom and Photoshop Elements, as well as Illustrator and InDesign. He has also contributed his time and efforts to the excellent work being done by Operation Photo Rescue, in restoring photographs damaged by natural disasters. As an active member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, he continues his quest for excellence in art, excellence in design, and excellence in education.

3 Comments on Migrating a Lightroom Catalog

  1. Arual // 13/08/2012 at 7:22 pm //

    Hi and thank you for the tutorial! Currently I use the export catelog option to perform this task. Do you know if this accomplishes the same thing or should I consider the method described in your tutorial? Thanks again!

  2. Arual,

    The Export Catalog option accomplishes the same thing, but forces you to create an entire second copy of the images and catalog. This is fine for exporting a few days’ worth of images, but I’ve found the import process gets unreliable above that. I certainly wouldn’t try exporting 50,000 images and then re-importing them. Even if Lightroom didn’t choke, the time would be onerous. The method I’ve prescribed here is much faster.


  3. Andre Movsesyan // 06/03/2013 at 3:05 am //

    Hello michael. Is there a way to merge two catalogs together without one overwriting the other? I have Lightroom 2 in my old computer with all the images on a external drive. I have a new computer with Lightroom 4 and a catalog with images developed on it already. Im trying to merge the LR2 catalog to my new computer which only needs to apply to the images on the external drive and not the ones on the new computer already. Thanks,

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