Today’s Question: I have two hard drives, one with the Lightroom Classic catalog and the other with the photo files. I want to move the catalog and the files to a new (smaller/faster) SSD drive. Any suggestions? Many thanks!!!
Tim’s Quick Answer: In this scenario I suggest using the “Export as Catalog” command in Lightroom Classic, which will create a new catalog and copy photos so that everything is consolidated on the single drive.
More Detail: There are a variety of approaches you could use to moving your Lightroom Classic catalog and photos to a new hard drive. You could, for example, move the catalog files and photos manually, and then set the new hard drive to match what Lightroom Classic is expecting for your photos, meaning giving the new hard drive the same drive letter (Windows) or volume label name (Macintosh) as the hard drive you had been using previously.
If it isn’t possible for any reason to use the same drive letter or volume label name for the new hard drive as had been used for the previous drive, you could also reconnect the missing photos within Lightroom Classic after having copied the catalog and photos to the new hard drive.
However, in this type of scenario it can be easier to simply use the “Export as Catalog” command, which will create a new copy of your catalog while also enabling you to copy the photos, with both going to the new hard drive.
To get started, open your existing catalog in Lightroom Classic. Navigate to the “All Photographs” collection in the Catalog section at the top of the left panel in the Library module. Then go to the menu and choose Edit > Select None so that no photos are actually selected. This will ensure that all photos will be exported as part of this process.
You can then go to the menu and choose File > Export as Catalog. Navigate to the new hard drive location where you want to store the catalog and photos, and make sure that the “Export negative files” checkbox is turned on. You can create a new folder on the new hard drive if you prefer. I also suggest keeping the “Include available previews” checkbox so that existing previews for your photos will be retained and won’t need to be rebuilt for the new catalog.
With the settings established for the export, click the Export Catalog button. A new catalog will be created in the destination you specified, and all photos will be copied with the same folder structure as you have currently in the existing catalog. Once all files have been copied you can open the catalog from the new location and start using that as your primary catalog from that point forward.