Hi, Lightroom newbie here, to save space on my Macs internal hard drive I'd like to store all my photos on an external SSD I know how to do this but would it also be a good idea to keep the Lightroom catalog file, the Lightroom catalog previews file and the settings folder on that same external drive too, or is this not a good idea?
Please tell us what problem you are trying to solve by doing this.
To save space on my internal drive
People do put the catalog file on the external drive, with the photos. The only real risk is dropping the external drive.
Thanks, Do you mean if I damage the external drive?
But I don't know if the .lrcat file or the Lightroom Previews.lrdata take up much space
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The size of your Lightroom Classic Catalog will grow quite slowly, so it will not overwhelm your internal hard drive. I keep my catalog on the internal SSD because it's the fastest drive, definitely faster than reading from an external drive. I keep photos on external hard drives, one for primary storage and one for backup. I back up the LRC Catalog to one of the external drives as well.
Thanks, does the Lightroom Previews.lrdata file take up much space?
The …Previews.lrdata file usually grows much faster than the catalog file. That is because it caches previews of various sizes that it builds as you view image after image. After a day you might have looked at 100 images, after a week you might have looked at over a thousand different images, and so on, and those previews get added to the cache as you go.
The catalog file could become a few GB, but the previews file can potentially grow to many GB depending on how many different images you view over time. My previews file is currently 30GB, and it could grow much more if I view a lot more different images.
The previews file is just a cache, so if it starts to take up too much space, you can throw it out. Lightroom Classic will start to rebuild it as you view more images. If the previews are gone, viewing images you’ve seen before may take slightly longer as it rebuilds each image’s preview. But that might be worth it if you need to free up some space. I throw out my previews file when I need to free up space on my laptop.
1:1 previews are so large that you can set them up to delete automatically after a period of time, in Catalog Settings, File Handling tab. In there you can also lower the quality and size of all previews if you want to try and save a little more space.
The catalog file is not expendable and should never be deleted, unless you no longer need it because you now use a newer catalog.
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I keep my Catalog and photos on and external SSD on my Imac and it had been working great for years. The drive is hooked to a Thunderbolt port.