How to transfer your Adobe Lightroom library

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Miguel Moro Vallina
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How to transfer your Adobe Lightroom library By Renaud Labracherie (@RLesnumeriques), Digital Focus (@Lesnums) Posted on 26/04/18 at 09:00 Share:

A reader of Focus Numérique wants move your Lightroom library from one computer to another. How to proceed ? What precautions should be taken? Let’s take a closer look at the technique to use…





Lightroom Classic CC's catalog is the backbone of the software. Without him, nothing is possible! It contains all the data concerning your photos (stars, keywords, etc.) as well as the treatments provided. Losing them during a risky manipulation would put you in an advanced state of hysterics, not to say delirium tremens.

I want to process my photos during my next vacation on a laptop. How do I transfer my Lightroom library from desktop to laptop without losing all the information I've already saved?

José Kervial, reader of Focus Numérique

José, you're careful and that's good. The hours accumulated to sort your photos, annotate them and edit them are crucial and it is better not to lose everything during the transfer. Moving a Lightroom catalog is actually quite simple to do and takes just a few clicks. First, you need to decide whether you want to move your entire catalog or just part of it. Make sure you have installed and run Lightroom for the first time on the second computer.

Move your entire catalog

The first step is to verify that the Store presets with this catalog option is checked. To do this, you must go to Lightroom's preferences and activate the Presets tab.

Next, locate your catalog location on your computer. For that, nothing could be easier. Go to the Catalog Settings… The General tab shows you the path to follow to find your catalog. Even easier, click the View button on the right.

All the data relating to your catalog is gathered here, be careful not the photos. Remember to close Adobe Lightroom to be sure to copy the latest version of your catalog. All you have to do is copy all the files to a new folder on your other computer. Then copy all the photos to your mobile computer. This operation can be quite long depending on the number of files to be transferred.



Resynchronize images with the catalog

On the laptop and after opening Lightroom, load the new catalog via the File > Open Catalog… command Locate your copy and open the file. Your catalog loaded, Lightroom will ask you to locate the photos, because your catalog points to a location that no longer exists on the destination computer. To do this, click on the question mark on the Folder icon. Lightroom then asks you to select the folder of your images.


There you go, you can now work with your laptop on your freshly transferred catalog.

Export only part of your catalog

Sometimes it is not necessary to transfer your entire catalog to your vacation computer and you may not have time to process everything. You can simply export a folder as a catalog and process, for example, the year 2016 only. To do this, select the relevant folder and use the Export as Catalog… command with a right-click of the mouse.


Thanks to this method, you do not have to copy your snapshots to the destination computer and simply have to check Export original files to benefit from a complete and functional file.

On the target computer, all you have to do is open the new catalog to work on your images. Interestingly, it is perfectly possible to transfer your Lightroom catalog from a Windows environment to a macOS operating system.

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