Today’s Question: Is there a way to combine multiple catalogs in Lightroom? For whatever reason several catalogs have been created in different versions of Lightroom over the years and it would be convenient to just have one catalog.
Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can absolutely merge multiple Lightroom catalogs into a single “master” catalog. The basic process involves opening the catalog you want to have as your master catalog, and then using the “Import from Another Catalog” command (found on the File menu) to merge other catalogs into your master catalog.
More Detail: I do prefer to use a single catalog for all of my photographic images, and so in general I recommend merging catalogs if you have created multiple catalogs to manage your photos in Lightroom. The process of merging catalogs in Lightroom is relatively straightforward, but it is critical that you take a cautious approach to avoid confusion.
In particular, I recommend first making a list of all of the catalogs you want to merge. Then identify the catalog that you want to use as your “master” catalog. Use the File > Import from Another Catalog command to merge each of the secondary catalogs into your master catalog.
When you merge catalogs, you have the option of copying your images to a new location, or simply adding the photos based on their current location. I recommend using the “Add” option, leaving the photos where they are when you merge catalogs. Then, as needed, you can move photos to a different location after you’ve merged all of your catalogs into a single master catalog.
I covered the process of merging catalogs in the April 2013 issue of Pixology magazine. Subscribers can gain access to this back issue (and others) of Pixology by sending an email to email@example.com.
In addition, I am in the final process of producing a video training course on “Cleaning Up Your Mess in Lightroom”, which will be available in the GreyLearning video training library very soon.