Today’s Question: I wish to change the name of my Lightroom Classic catalog. Its name has lengthened every time Adobe adds an update. Can you explain how to rename the catalog safely?
Tim’s Quick Answer: To rename the Lightroom Classic catalog you actually need to rename a series of files with a similar base filename structure, so it is important to be careful with this process.
More Detail: The Lightroom Classic catalog consists of more than just a single catalog file, but rather includes a series of “helper” files as well. If you want to rename the catalog you need to also rename the helper files using the same base filename structure.
To get started you need to know where the catalog files are stored. Fortunately, this is easy to determine from within Lightroom Classic. First, choose Edit > Catalog Settings from the menu to bring up the Catalog Settings dialog. Then go to the General tab and click the Show button to the right of the Location field in the Information section. That will open a window in the operating system showing the location where the folder for the catalog is stored, with that folder highlighted.
Before you start renaming the catalog files you need to quit Lightroom Classic, so be sure to do that next. Then double-click on the folder that contains the catalog files.
The actual catalog file has a filename extension of “.lrcat”. You’ll also find a series of files with an “.lrdata” filename extension, with the specific number of these files depending on which features you’ve taken advantage of. For example, if you have generated Smart Previews within Lightroom Classic you’ll find an lrdata file for those Smart Previews. With the latest update to Lightroom Classic you’ll also find a file with a filename extension of “.lrcat-data”.
The lrcat and lrcat-data files will have the same base filename. The files with the lrdata filename extension will have that same base filename, along with one or more words appended to the filename. The portion of all of the filenames that matches the lrcat file must be renamed in exactly the same way for all files.
I recommend that you start with the lrcat file. You can right-click on the file and choose the rename command. Then type any name you’d like for the catalog file. You can then select that filename and copy it to the clipboard by pressing Ctrl+C on Windows or Command+C on Macintosh. Next, rename the lrcat-data file and paste the copied filename to replace the existing filename.
For the lrdata files you’ll need to be a little more careful. You need to replace the portion of the filename that matches the previous name for your catalog, while retaining the additional text after that filename.
For example, let’s assume your catalog was called “My Catalog.lrcat”, and you rename that to “Lightroom Catalog.lrcat”. One of the helper files will be the previews file, which in this example would have a filename of “My Catalog Previews.lrdata”. You need to rename that file to “Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata”, retaining the ” Previews” text (including the space) while replacing the “My Catalog” text. Repeat this process for all of the catalog helper files.
When you’re finished you can double-click the newly renamed lrcat file to launch Lightroom Classic with that catalog.