Getting Started: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Setup and Catalog Creation

June 06, 2010 | | Comments 216

Your image storage needs and my image storage needs will differ. Your computer and my computer are different. If storing your Photoshop Lightroom Catalog on your startup disk makes the most sense then Lightroom’s factory default Catalog creation behavior will work for you. If storing your Lightroom Catalog in the Pictures folder on your startup disk works for you then you can skip the video tutorial at the end of this article.

If the factory default configuration suits your needs then l suggest rename the default Lightroom Catalog, build an alias that always leads directly to your Catalog, and personalize your Identity Plate. Following these steps will ensure that you are working in the right Lightroom Catalog every time.

Please read these tutorials before proceeding any further with this article! I promise that the background information that they cover is totally worth your time when you are getting started with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Understanding The Digital Photography Puzzle Pieces:

If storing your Photoshop Lightroom Catalog on your startup disk is not the ideal solution for your needs then you can easily move your existing Catalog files over to another hard drive. You can easily move your Lightroom Catalog from drive to drive at any point. I urge you to rename this Catalog, and to create a new alias to leads directly to it too after the move, but starting with the factory default Catalog has done you no harm.

For my needs though storing my Lightroom Catalog, and my 40,000+ digital images, on my computer’s startup disk was not going to work. I knew the day that I started working with my current computer that its internal hard drive was never going to be big enough to hold all of my photography. For my needs using a high-quality, high-speed, external hard drive for both my Catalog and my image storage makes the most sense. My Photo Storage System: Two External Hard Drives>Using an external drive for my photo storage and other external drives for my backup plan is the best use of my resources.

Now I could have started with the factory default Catalog, renamed it, and then moved it over to my external hard drive but there is another option. In this video tutorial, I am going to force Lightroom to ask me where I want to keep my Catalog, and what to name the Catalog, rather than allowing the program to create it’s default Catalog in my startup disk’s Pictures folder. Forcing the program to ask you where you want to put your Catalog can be a time-saver if you already know that you are not going to be happy with the program’s default Catalog creation behavior.

To create a new Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalog on startup:

  • 1. Double-click on the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom program icon.
  • 2. Immediately hold down on the Option Key (Mac) or the Alt Key (PC).
  • 3. Continue to press on that special keyboard button down until the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Select Catalog dialog menu appears.

May I suggest checking out our tutorial on the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Preference Menus once you are happy with the name and location of your Lightroom Catalog. Setting the Preferences is the next logical step in the setup process.

Please allow me to also repeat the point that I use one external hard drive to store my Lightroom Catalog plus my images but I use other external drives for my backups. My photo storage hard drive is automatically backed up to another disk every day. If disaster strikes I have plans in place that will hopefully prevent me from loosing everything. You have similar plans in place too, right? Remember that all hard drives will fail sooner or later!

Please do not put all your eggs in one basket. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is a great program but it is not a backup plan! For more on this topic see:

Read our article on “Getting Started: What Does ‘Import’ Mean in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom?” once you are have decided where to store your images and your Photoshop Lightroom Catalog.


Filed Under: (02) Lightroom SetupAdobe 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+.