Today’s Question: I’ve just set up my new computer. I have my Lightroom Classic catalog on an external hard drive. How do I get Lightroom to “see” the catalog?
Tim’s Quick Answer: You can launch Lightroom Classic with the new catalog by navigating to the location on the hard drive where the catalog is located, and then double-clicking on the catalog file.
More Detail: You can open a specific catalog in Lightroom Classic by going to the File menu and choosing Open Catalog. However, it is often easier to locate the catalog directly through your operating system, and then launch Lightroom using the actual catalog file.
When you locate the folder where your Lightroom Classic catalog is stored you can simply double-click on the file with the “lrcat” filename extension. That is the actual catalog file, and double-clicking on the file will cause the catalog to be opened in Lightroom Classic.
When you have moved a catalog, especially if you have made a copy of the original catalog, Lightroom may be confused if you launch Lightroom directly and the most recently used catalog file can’t be found. In that case a dialog will appear, which provides an option to browse and locate the correct catalog file.
It is also worth noting that you can configure Lightroom Classic to always open the correct catalog. This can help avoid any confusion, especially if you have multiple catalogs (or multiple backup copies of a catalog). You’ll find the applicable options on the General tab of the Preferences dialog in Lightroom Classic.
By default, Lightroom Classic will open the most recently used catalog. However, you can also select a specific catalog that should always be opened when you launch Lightroom Classic, which can be helpful to avoid confusion when working with more than one catalog. To choose a catalog that should always be used, click the “When starting up use this catalog” popup on the General tab of the Preferences dialog. Choose the applicable catalog if it is on the list, or choose “Other” to locate a catalog that is not shown on the list.