Renaming a Catalog


Today’s Question: I just updated my Adobe CC for Photographers to the 2015 version. In the process of doing that my Lightroom catalog’s name was changed from “LR-5” to “LR-5-2”. Is there some simple way for me to change it to “LR-6”? I want to do that since I plan to use Lightroom for some time to come and I do not want to eventually get some future catalog named “LR-5-2-2” and so forth. Also any thoughts on how to name Lightroom catalogs?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can most certainly rename your Lightroom catalog, but that won’t actually prevent future versions of Lightroom from modifying that name when a catalog is upgraded to a new version.

More Detail: When you upgrade to a new “major” version of Lightroom, your catalog from an earlier version of Lightroom must be upgraded to the new catalog format. This is necessary to support new features and adjustments, among other changes that may have been made to the catalog structure. During this process, rather than modifying your existing catalog, the new version of Lightroom will create a new catalog based on the existing catalog, with a new name for that catalog.

If you want to rename your catalog the first step is to know exactly where your catalog is. You can find this information in the Catalog Settings dialog, which can be accessed by choosing “Catalog Settings” from the Lightroom menu on the Macintosh version of Lightroom or the Edit menu on the Windows Version of Lightroom.

In the Catalog Settings dialog go to the General tab and click the Show button. This will open a window in your operating system showing the location of the folder containing your catalog files, with that folder highlighted.

Before renaming your catalog, you need to close Lightroom. So switch back to Lightroom and quit the application, then return to the window with your catalog folder. Double-click to open the catalog folder, where you will find the files that represent your Lightroom catalog.

You’ll want to start with the file that has the “.lrcat” filename extension, as this is the primary catalog file. Right-click on this file and choose the Rename option, then type a new name. Be sure to keep the “.lrcat” filename extension unchanged as part of the new filename.

You then need to use the new filename as the base filename for the remaining files, keeping the “extra” portion of the filename exactly as it is. You will have, for example, a file that includes the word “Previews” as part of the base filename, with a filename extension of “.lrdata”.

For example, if you renamed the catalog to “My Lightroom Catalog.lrcat”, you would change the Previews filename to “My Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata”.

Once you have renamed the files with the same base filename, you can re-launch Lightroom. By default Lightroom will attempt to open the existing catalog that you just renamed, but of course will not be able to find that catalog because the filename has been changed. In the dialog that appears you can click the “Choose a Different Catalog” button to bring up a dialog where you can once again click the “Choose a Different Catalog” button so you can navigate to the location where the catalog is stored and select the “lrcat” file. Lightroom can then open that renamed catalog, and you can continue working normally.

Note that the process of renaming a catalog in Lightroom is also covered in Lesson 12 of the Lightroom video course “Resolving Organizational Challenges”, available in the GreyLearning video training library. If you are a GreyLearning subscriber, you can view this lesson to see the subject of today’s answer presented in video. And if you’re not already a subscriber, you can get details about accessing all of the courses available in the GreyLearning library here: