Today’s Question: I store my Lightroom Classic catalog on an external hard drive. I want to rename the hard drive, but I don’t want to lose the connection to Lightroom Classic. Is Lightroom Classic going to tell me that it can’t find my files if I rename the external drive?
Tim’s Quick Answer: If you rename (Macintosh) or assign a new drive letter (Windows) for the hard drive that contains your Lightroom Classic catalog, it is easy to reconnect Lightroom Classic with the catalog. If you’re making this change for a hard drive that also contains your photos, that will involve a little more work.
More Detail: If you change the identifier for the hard drive that contains your Lightroom Classic catalog you can easily make the transition, so Lightroom Classic is able to find that catalog. Start by making sure Lightroom Classic is not running. Then, after you rename (Macintosh) or change the drive letter (Windows), you can double-click on the catalog file (the one with the “lrcat” filename extension) in its folder location on that hard drive. This will launch Lightroom Classic with that catalog.
I also recommend then setting this catalog in its new location as the default catalog to always open in Lightroom Classic. To do so, first go to the menu and choose Lightroom Classic > Preferences on Macintosh or Edit > Preferences on Windows. In the Preferences dialog go to the General tab. In the Default Catalog section click the popup and choose the current catalog from the popup list. Close the Preferences dialog and from this point forward anytime you launch Lightroom Classic it will open the selected catalog.
If the hard drive you’re making this change for also includes your photos, there will be some additional work involved because Lightroom Classic will no longer find the photos where they are expected even though it knows where the catalog is located. You’ll need to reconnect the folders containing the photos so that Lightroom Classic will know where they are located.
This process is generally a bit easier if all the photos containing your photos are in turn contained within a single parent folder, such as a “Photos” folder on the hard drive. In that case you can simply right-click on that parent folder, choose “Find Missing Folder” from the popup menu, and select the applicable folder on the hard drive. That will cause all subfolders to also be reconnected.
If you don’t have a single parent folder, you should still be able to reconnect the other folders without too much trouble. Right-click on one of the folders and reconnect it as noted above. In most cases Lightroom Classic will then recursively reconnect all folders on that entire hard drive. If for any reason some folders don’t reconnect you can reconnect those outliers individually.