How to Move an Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalog to an External Hard Drive

May 12, 2009 | | Comments 177

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalogs are easily moved from one hard drive to another. By default, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom automatically creates a folder to hold your Lightroom Catalog database files. Within your factory default Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalog folder are two important items: the Lightroom Catalog.lrcat file and the Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata file. On the PC, the Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata file appears as a sub-folder.

The factory default behavior is to create these files and to put them into a folder inside of your computer’s internal hard drive. This program automatically places the default .lrcat and .lrdata files inside of a folder called Lightroom that it creates within your User Account > Pictures sub-folder. The program put these files, and others depending upon your preferences, within the default Lightroom to keep things neat and tidy. Moving the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalog is easy since all the critical parts of the database are stored within a single folder!

Default Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalog Mac OS X 10.7 View

Default Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalog

Moving the whole Lightroom folder to another hard drive will not remove the actual application from your internal hard drive. Moving this folder simply moves your Photoshop Lightroom Catalog database files from one place to another. I demonstrate all of the steps involved in this process of moving an Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalog to another hard drive in this short video tutorial.

Before you move your Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalog to another drive please do two things. First, please make sure that you have everything backed up. Please implement Professional-Grade Backup Plans before making any significant changes to your image storage system!

Second, carefully consider if moving your Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalog to an external hard drive will actually help you. Image data storage is not a “one-size fits all” problem and there is no universal solution. Every photographer has different needs and different equipment. For detailed advice on configuring an image storage system that suits your needs see Getting Started: Where Should I Store My Images?” and Getting Started: Where Should I Keep My Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalog?” The big question is not “how do I move my Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalog” but rather what arrangement of all the image storage puzzle pieces best suits your current needs?

I recommend renaming your Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalog no matter where you choose to store these files. I also suggest creating an alias that leads directly to your Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalog to prevent any confusion.

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Filed Under: (02) Lightroom Setup(11) FAQAdobe Photoshop Lightroom Tutorials


About the Author: David Marx is a digital photography instructor whose engaging teaching style inspires photographers of all skill levels. David is an Adobe Certified Lightroom Expert. To learn more about David's Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software training seminars and digital photography field workshops please visit or follow David Marx on Google+.