Today’s Question: Thank you for the most recent educational piece on cleaning up the mess in Lightroom. I have Lightroom catalogs from Lightroom 3 through Lightroom CC. Some of the earlier catalogs show all of the photos as “missing” because in between one Lightroom edition and another I have either had a problem with my external hard drive or had to upgrade to a large external drive. I want to merge all of my catalogs. Must I first open them in Lightroom CC and map them to the current external storage drives or can I merely merge all of the catalogs since the current Lightroom catalog of 50,000+ photos already map to my hard external hard drives?
Tim’s Quick Answer: There is no need to reconnect “missing” folders in your Lightroom catalogs before you merge those catalogs. In many cases, in fact, it can be much easier to merge catalogs first, and then work to reconnect missing folders and photos across the entire “master” catalog you created in the process of merging multiple catalogs.
More Detail: If you have catalogs that have not been updated to the latest version of Lightroom, you do need to update those catalogs before merging them with your master catalog. To do so, simply choose the File > Open Catalog command from the menu in Lightroom. Lightroom will inform you that the catalog is from an older version of Lightroom, and will offer to upgrade the catalog for you.
Once all of your catalogs have been upgraded to the latest version of Lightroom, you can open your primary catalog and then use the File > Import from Another Catalog command to merge catalogs. This is possible even if some of the catalogs you want to merge contain missing photos.
Once you’ve merged all of your catalogs into a single master catalog, you can then get to work reconnecting any missing folders and photos, among other cleanup tasks.
All of these topics (and more) related to cleaning up problems in Lightroom are covered in detail in my latest video training course, “Cleaning Up Your Mess in Lightroom”, available with a subscription to the GreyLearning video training library (http://www.greylearning.com).