How to move lightroom catalogue to laptop, leave photo files on external drive?

Community Beginner ,
Jun 18, 2021 Jun 18, 2021

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Hi all - I understand the benefits of having my catalogue on my Macbook Pro laptop and edit using smart previews. Unfortunately, my catalogue and files now are all together on my external hard drive. I have tens of thousands of photos on the drive. How do I move the minimum number of files to the laptop without breaking the links?

Thanks in advance!

John

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Adobe Community Professional , Jun 18, 2021 Jun 18, 2021
Just copy the Lightroom catalog folder (the entire folder, not just the catalog file) to the laptop. Then tell Lightroom once it should use this catalog by launching Lightroom via double clicking the catalog file). That is all. From now on Lightroom will use the catalog from the laptop and because your images didn't move, the catalog will still know where they are.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 18, 2021 Jun 18, 2021

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Your question is not clear. In your title you say want to move the catalog, but in your text you say you want to move "files". Please clarify exactly what you want to move.

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 18, 2021 Jun 18, 2021

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Yes - photo files are one thing and the files created by lightroom are another, so that was unclear. I'd like the photos to remain on the external drive. I'd like to move the Lightroom catalogue - not including the photos themselves - to the laptop. Thanks.

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 18, 2021 Jun 18, 2021

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Just copy the Lightroom catalog folder (the entire folder, not just the catalog file) to the laptop. Then tell Lightroom once it should use this catalog by launching Lightroom via double clicking the catalog file). That is all. From now on Lightroom will use the catalog from the laptop and because your images didn't move, the catalog will still know where they are.

-- Johan W. Elzenga

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 18, 2021 Jun 18, 2021

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Thanks, Johan,

I notice that inside the catalog folder, the previews file (Photo Catalog Previews.lrdata) is very large - about 250GB.  These are not smart previews, just regular ones. Is there a way to avoid putting that on my laptop?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 19, 2021 Jun 19, 2021

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@jdowler wrote:

Thanks, Johan,

I notice that inside the catalog folder, the previews file (Photo Catalog Previews.lrdata) is very large - about 250GB.  These are not smart previews, just regular ones. Is there a way to avoid putting that on my laptop?



As Jim said, you can simply not include the previews file, but then Lightroom will rebuild it. Because it will only rebuild previews for the images you actually view (also just in the grid), it will take time before the file has grown to the same size. And then you can delete it again. Also make sure that you set the option to automatically delete 1:1 previews after a certain time. It's in the catalog settings.

 

-- Johan W. Elzenga

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 18, 2021 Jun 18, 2021

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The previews folder must be in the same folder with the catalog and it will grow with time. You can change the size the previews being used to help reduce the size of that folder. And, you can delete that folder and Lightroom will begin creating a new previews folder as you work with images. But it will grow again. And, again, when it becomes too large again you can delete it and start over. This could have some impact on performance, but shouldn't cause an insurmountable problem.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 18, 2021 Jun 18, 2021

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Please clarify, are you moving from a desktop computer to your laptop or is your primary computer the Macbook Pro?

If the Macbook Pro is the only computer involved it will only be a benefit to moving the Catalog all the previews including the smart-previews and other Catalog files if there is ample room on the internal Hard disk.

For efficient functioning of the Macbook Pro you should have at least 20% free disk space available at all times.

 

 

Regards, Denis: iMac mid-2015, 5K 27”, GPU 2GB, Ram 24GB, HDD 3TB, macOS 11.5, LrC 10.3, Lr 4.3, Ps 22.4.3, Pr 14.8.0; Camera OM-D E-M1.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 18, 2021 Jun 18, 2021

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Really, the simple and effective thing to do is move the photo's and catalog (and presets etc) to the external drive. In fact, if you can deadicate an external drive for just that data, you can make your life and backup schema so much easier. All that data will simply grow larger over the years of adding more images, presets, etc. No 'links' to worry about. 

Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management" (pluralsight.com)

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 19, 2021 Jun 19, 2021

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@thedigitaldog wrote:

Really, the simple and effective thing to do is move the photo's and catalog (and presets etc) to the external drive. In fact, if you can deadicate an external drive for just that data, you can make your life and backup schema so much easier. All that data will simply grow larger over the years of adding more images, presets, etc. No 'links' to worry about. 



He already has everything on an external drive! His question was how to move the catalog to the internal drive, presumably for speed reasons. If the external drive is a spinning drive, then having the catalog on that drive too can really cause a speed hit (as I found out myself the hard way with a spinning 4 TB drive connected to a MacBook Pro).

 

-- Johan W. Elzenga

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 19, 2021 Jun 19, 2021

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I stand by my recommendation to store all LR related data and images on the external drive for the reasons expressed. Including the catalog.

Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management" (pluralsight.com)

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 19, 2021 Jun 19, 2021

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Thanks so much everyone, I very much appreciate your input. I guess each user has a unique work flow and storage plan. I had been hearing that using Smart Previews allowed for improved speed and a very lean storage option when you want to leave the external drive behind. It seems that this might work best if one regularly prunes the standard previews, which may be a good option for me to try. I do use a 4GB spinning external drive and sometimes actions in Lightroom or Photoshop feel a bit like melting ice. But it is easy to keep complete backups as some have mentioned. I'll have to experiment!

Cheers

John

https://dowler.photo

https://instagram.com/johndowler1

 

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