Lightroom Library vs. a Lightroom Catalog: What’s the difference?

August 8, 2016

Lightroom Library vs. a Lightroom Catalog: What’s the difference?


 Goodbye, old friend.. with your archaic USB 3.0s!
Goodbye, old friend.. with your archaic USB 3.0s!

This blog will mostly be helpful to Mac users who use Adobe CC, and wish to migrate their Lightroom setup from one mac to another. If you’re a PC user, or using Lightroom 6 or earlier, some of the steps I’ve outlined may be different.

To be honest, this is mostly a journal note for myself for how to do this in the future if I forget. But maybe it will help you out too!

If you’re like me, Lightroom is a second home to you. You can’t imagine life without it. But just like your real home, you’ve got to keep your Lightroom tidy and organized. Otherwise your life as a wedding photographer- or any other kind of photographer- will be extremely difficult! After budgeting for it since last fall, I just purchased a new Macbook Pro, and am in the process of migrating my current Lightroom setup from old Macbook Pro (2012 era retina) to my speedy new one- an upgraded 2017 15″ Retina Macbook Pro. This will be a vast improvement for keeping up with the weddings I’ve had each weekend since I returned from New Zealand in Jan 2017. So I’ve decided to record the process of how I’ve approached migrating my complete wedding photography programs & workflow tools from one mac to my new one in case the process is helpful.

How to Backup Your Lightroom Catalog & Files

I will be backing up all these files into a LR backup folder on one of my super fast Samsung hard drives which use USB C. (These will be extra fast to use with my new Mac once I get USB C > USB C cables.) Basically you need to find all these files and copy them into one master file on a hard drive that you can 

LR Catalog

Your Catalog is basically saves how you’ve edited each of your photos- from the curves, to the lens profile, the cropping, etc. Anything you have changed about a RAW file since you uploaded the photo into Lightroom is recorded in your catalog. So if you are halfway through editing anything, or you’d like to be able to go back and see how you edited a certain photo, you have to find where your catalog is stored and copy this file into your backup:

Windows—C: \ Users \ [your username] \ My Pictures \ Lightroom \ Lightroom 6 Catalog.lrcat

Mac—Macintosh HD / Users / [your username] / Pictures / Lightroom / Lightroom 6 Catalog.lrcat

LR Catalog Backups

The photo folders uploaded into your catalog

Photo Previews

Develop Presets & Plugins

Custom Settings: Camera RAW, Camera & Lens Profiles, etc.

Your Adobe Lightroom CC Serial Number

Your Preference File

How to Install Lightroom CC on a new Mac

PART III: Migrate your files

PART IV: Install your Original Catalog- aka .lrcat file

It’s no fun to lose important data, so it’s important to follow each step.Whether you use Lightroom for your business or for your photography hobby, I hope this helped you in some way!

In light + love,