How to Move Adobe Lightroom Catalogues

3 mins read

Over the last few months I have been aware of the unavoidable need for me to move my Lightroom catalogue to an external drive. My internal harddrive was filling up fast so taking a 250GB external USB drive I decided to move my library over.

As usual I started the move at the worst possible time and what should have been a simple task ended up a complete disaster. I copied the contents of my Lightroom folder to the new drive and once copied I held down “ALT” on Lightroom start up and selected the new catalogue file.

Quite satisfied at how easy the move was I started to import new photos over the weeks ahead only to discover my internal harddrive was completely full. I had completely messed up, yes I had copied the catalogue but Lightroom was stilling the folder on my harddrive to store the images. I now had images over two hard drives.

So… here is how it is done.

Step 1 : Move the catalogue file

Copy the single Lightroom catalogue file on to your new harddrive (I created a new folder called “Lightroom”). Now double click on the library file on the new harddrive. Lightroom show now load as normal and you will see your catalogue.

Step 2 : Tell Lightroom about the new folder.

To do this simple import an image and when the location window appears change the storage area to the new drive. When you return to Lightroom you should now see the new drive in the folders tab. You can now drag the folders from you current library into the new location.

Lightroom will now copy the images across to the new drive and removes them the old location. This can take some time depending on the number of images in the folder. As this move is permanent I would definitely recommend taking a backup of your library first.

Using Lightroom to move the catalogue was painless…. I discovered this the hard way. There might even be a better way of registering the new drive with Lightroom rather than importing a new image ? Has anyone else embarked on moving their catalogues or even running multi catalogues ?

All tips appreciated !


David is a documentary and landscape photographer covering everything from dramatic long exposure landscape photography through to live music. David is a former Official Fujifilm X Photographer.

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