Managing Catalogs


Today’s Question: I thought I had only one Lightroom catalogue, the default “Lightroom 5 Catalogue.lrcat.” In watching one of your tutorials and looking more closely at my hard drive, I discovered that I had unwittingly created a second catalogue, which is in a subject file “Santa Fe.lrcat.” The default catalogue has only some of my images. The Santa Fe catalogue, which somehow became my default, has all the images. I would like to follow your strong advice and have only one catalogue. My question: How do I make the inadvertent Santa Fe.lrcat my default with the correct name and have it be in the right place on my hard drive?

Tim’s Quick Answer: On the assumption that the “Santa Fe” catalog contains all of your images, the process here is relatively straightforward. You can rename the catalog files on your hard drive, open that newly renamed catalog in Lightroom, and continue working.

More Detail: Before you begin, of course, I highly recommend backing up your catalog files, and your computer in general. This will ensure you have a way to recover should you create any problems during this process.

The first step is to quit Lightroom, so that the various temporary files are cleared and you can work directly with the catalog files. Then navigate to the folder where your catalog files are stored so you can rename the files. You will find at least two files for the catalog, and possibly more depending on your settings in Lightroom. All of these files need to be renamed in a similar way, preserving the “extra” portion of the files that contain additional text beyond the base catalog name.

For example, in this case the base catalog name is “Santa Fe”. If you want the new catalog to be called “Lightroom Master Catalog”, you could simply rename the “Santa Fe.lrcat” file to “Lightroom Master Catalog.lrcat”. There will also be a file with the same base name, but with “Previews” appended. That could be renamed from “Santa Fe Previews.lrdata” to “Lightroom Master Catalog Previews.lrdata”. In other words, only change the first portion of the filename (in this case “Santa Fe” for all of the files in the catalog folder.

At this point you can launch Lightroom. Depending on which catalog had been open most recently, you may see a dialog indicating that the catalog can’t be found, in which case you can choose the option to open another catalog. If an existing catalog opens, you can simply choose File > Open Catalog from the menu. The point is, you want to open the newly renamed catalog, and then only use that catalog within Lightroom.

If the newly renamed catalog doesn’t contain all photos from all catalogs, you can choose File > Import from Another Catalog from the menu. This will allow you to import photos into the current catalog from a different catalog.

If you have subscribed to the GreyLearning video training library ( you can view a video lesson on renaming the catalog files in Lesson 12 of the course “Lightroom 5: Resolving Organizational Challenges”. In addition, Lesson 11 of the same course covers merging multiple catalogs into one. The key with all of these tasks is to be careful and somewhat methodical, to make sure you don’t make a critical error with your important data.

Switching to the Cloud


Today’s Question: I am using Lightroom 5 but think that my next move should be to just buy the cloud version. How do I make the switch and move my photos to that version of Lightroom 6?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When you subscribe to the Creative Cloud (such as via the Creative Cloud Photography Plan), you’ll still be installing the applications (such as Lightroom) directly to your computer. So in effect, you’d simply be upgrading from Lightroom 5 to Lightroom 6, and you can very easily “upgrade” your Lightroom 5 catalog for use with Lightroom 6.

More Detail: You can install Lightroom 6 via the Creative Cloud application, and it will be installed in addition to your existing installation of Lightroom 5. When you launch Lightroom 6 (which is referred to as Lightroom CC when installed as part of a Creative Cloud subscription) you will be asked if you want to upgrade your existing Lightroom 5 catalog for use in Lightroom 6. If you choose to take advantage of this option, a new Lightroom 6 catalog will be created in the process, so you will still have your Lightroom 5 catalog as a backup.

If you don’t take advantage of the option to upgrade your Lightroom 5 catalog for use in Lightroom 6 when you launch Lightroom 6 for the first time, you can always perform this task later. For example, you might want to create a test catalog initially just to test out your installation of Lightroom 6 and perhaps get familiar with some of the new features before taking the step of upgrading your existing catalog.

Later, you can always simply choose File > Open Catalog from the menu in Lightroom 6, and select your existing Lightroom 5 catalog as the catalog you want to open. Lightroom will recognize that the catalog was created with an older version of Lightroom, and will offer to upgrade the catalog. Note that you must upgrade an existing Lightroom 5 (or earlier) catalog if you want to use that catalog with Lightroom 6. The process is very simple, however, and doesn’t require any significant time to complete.

I think one of the most important things to keep in mind in this context, however, is that Lightroom purchased as a standalone product with a perpetual license is the same as Lightroom installed as part of a Creative Cloud subscription, except that the latter provides access to some additional online synchronization features. This includes, for example, the ability to synchronize your Lightroom catalog to Lightroom on a mobile device or Lightroom in a web browser.

Older Process Versions


Today’s Question: I understand the notion of Process Versions in Lightroom, and in general I want to update all photos to the latest Process Version. What I’d like to know is whether there is an easy way to find the photos that were adjusted with an older Process Version, so I can easily update all of them.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can find all photos in the current Lightroom catalog that have not been updated to the latest Process Version by going to the menu and choosing Library > Find Previous Process Photos.

More Detail: When you choose Find Previous Process Photos from the Library menu in Lightroom, all of the photos in your catalog will be checked to see if any have not yet been updated to the current Process Version. Any photos that are set to an older Process Version will then be displayed. If no photos in the catalog have an older Process Version, you will receive a notification to that effect.

Once you have all of the images filtered so that only those with an older Process Version are displayed, you can update all of those photos to the latest Process Version if you’d like. You can, for example, click the “lightning bolt” icon that appears below the Histogram display on the right panel in the Develop module, indicating the current image is not using the current Process Version.

When you click the “lightning bolt” icon, you will be prompted to choose whether you want to update only the currently selected photo, or all photos on the Filmstrip. You can click the “Update All Filmstrip Photos” button so that all images in your catalog will be updated to the latest Process Version, since you are currently viewing all photos that had not yet been updated to that latest Process Version.

Lightroom CC Won’t Start


Today’s Question: I downloaded and installed new Lightroom via Adobe Creative Cloud and it won’t start! I still have Lightroom 5.7 and it works. All files seem to be there, but nothing happens when try to launch the new version. I tried reinstalling and same problem. Do you know of a solution?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You should be able to resolve this issue by signing out of Creative Cloud on your computer, and then signing in again.

More Detail: I received several emails from readers who were having this problem with the new installation of Lightroom CC. All of the readers who wrote indicated they were using (or attempting to use) Lightroom on a Windows-based computer, but I’m not sure if this problem is specific to Windows.

However, it does appear that the solution is simply a matter of signing out of your Creative Cloud account on that computer and then signing back in again. I have received follow-up emails from several readers confirming this, after they were informed of this workaround by Adobe’s technical support.

Colorize versus Tint


Today’s Question: I’ve always used the Colorize checkbox for the Hue/Saturation adjustment in Photoshop to create a sepia tone image (or a monochrome image with a different color). But I now see that the Black & White adjustment includes a Tint checkbox that seems to produce the same result. Is there a reason to use one over the other?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In terms of the color effect, the result is the same with both of these adjustments. However, I recommend the Black & White adjustment rather than Hue/Saturation because with a Black & White adjustment you’re able to exercise greater control over the black and white interpretation of the photo.

More Detail: When you use the Colorize checkbox with the Hue/Saturation adjustment or the Tint checkbox with the Black & White adjustment, you’re simply adding a color tint to the photo. In both cases you are producing the effect of a black and white image, but where shades of a specific color are used instead of shades of gray.

In other words, there is no reason to choose one or the other of these adjustments in terms of the color effect, but there is still a big reason to favor the Black & White adjustment.

When you use the Hue/Saturation adjustment to apply the Colorize effect, you aren’t able to exercise control over the tonal interpretation of the image. With the Black & White adjustment you can change the luminance values within the image based on the original color values within the photo. This provides considerable control over how the image is interpreted.

So, I recommend using the Black & White adjustment to create a black and white interpretation of the photo, and then adding the Tint option. You can click the color swatch associated with the Tint checkbox to bring up the Color Picker dialog, where you can choose the specific color you want to use for the color tint for your monochrome image.

Blurry Preview


Today’s Question: I usually send the image to Photoshop for a touch of midtone contrast and some minor clean up, then save, and close. When back in Lightroom in the Library module the image is slightly blurred, but when the same image is examined in the Develop module its crisp and sharp. What am I doing wrong?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You’re not doing anything wrong. The preview you see in the Library module is different from the preview you see in the Develop module, with the image in the Develop module being a true reflection of the actual image data.

More Detail: Over the last few versions of Lightroom the differences between the previews in the Library module compared to the Develop module have gotten more similar. For example, in earlier versions the effects of sharpening and noise reduction were not reflected in the preview you saw in the Library module.

While the previews presented in the Library versus Develop modules are much more similar in the latest versions of Lightroom, there are still some subtle differences based on how the previews are generated. In the Library module the preview is affected by settings in the Preferences dialog related to the size and quality of the preview. In the Develop module you are always seeing a full rendering of the image based on the original capture with all adjustments in the Develop module applied to the preview you see.

As a result, when performing a critical evaluation of the sharpness and overall image quality for a photo, it is best to perform that evaluation in the Develop module, ideally at a 100% zoom setting (1:1 view).

Photos without Folders


Today’s Question: I have my pictures organized in one Pictures folder with many, many subfolders. I believe I may have many pictures that are not in a subfolder, just in the main Pictures folder. How can I do a sort or otherwise find pictures (in Lightroom) that are in the main folder but not in any subfolder? I want to move them into appropriate subfolders.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The key here is to browse the top-level folder, and to turn off the option to view photos that are contained in sub-folders of the current folder. By doing so, you will be able to see only the images that are in that top-level folder, not in any sub-folders.

More Detail: The first step is to navigate to the top-level folder that you want to check for photos. In many cases, however, this folder may be hidden by Lightroom, because only the actual folders being managed by Lightroom are displayed on the list of folders. So, if the parent “Pictures” folder can’t be seen on the list of folders on the left panel in the Library module, you’ll need to enable the display of that parent folder.

To display the parent folder for the subfolders being displayed in the Folders list on the left panel, start by right-clicking on one of the folders that is contained within the parent folder you want to gain access to. Then choose “Show Parent Folder” from the popup menu. Later you can hide this folder again by right-clicking on the parent folder and choosing “Hide This Parent” from the popup menu.

With the parent folder displayed you can now click on that folder in the Folders list on the left panel to view images within the folder. However, you’ll also want to make sure you aren’t seeing images contained within subfolders of the currently selected folder. To view or change that option, click on the Library menu on the menu bar and look at the “Show Photos in Subfolders” item.

If there is a checkmark next to “Show Photos in Subfolder” that indicates that you are currently viewing not only images in the currently selected folder but also in any subfolders within that folder. In this case you want this option turned off, so you don’t want there to be a checkmark next to “Show Photos in Subfolders”. You can toggle the setting by simply choosing “Show Photos in Subfolders” from the Library menu.

Once you’ve navigated to the top-level folder you want to review, and have turned off the “Show Photos in Subfolders” setting, you’ll see only photos contained within the top-level folder. You can then drag-and-drop them to other folder locations using the list of Folders on the left panel.

Finding Missing Photos


Today’s Question: Every so often I import photos into Lightroom before my second round of deletions. After deleting photos outside of Lightroom during that second round, I then end up with a bunch of missing photos in Lightroom. Is there any easy way to sort the photos in Lightroom so that I can remove the missing images from Lightroom all at one time? It doesn’t appear that I can use any of the filter options and it doesn’t appear that the sort options allow that possibility either.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can actually find all missing photos (and videos) in your Lightroom catalog very easily by choosing Library > Find All Missing Photos from the menu. You can then review the missing photos and remove those that you had previously deleted from your hard drive.

More Detail: In general I recommend that photographers perform all image-management work within Lightroom, in part to avoid situations where photos are missing from your Lightroom catalog. That said, I also understand that some photographers prefer using software other than Lightroom for various tasks. The ability to find all missing photos in a Lightroom catalog enables you to clean up your Lightroom catalog if you do choose to delete photos outside of Lightroom.

It is important to keep in mind that when you filter your photos to see only those that are missing, it is possible that some of the missing photos are not images that had intentionally been deleted. This is a particular concern if you tend to perform various image-management tasks outside of Lightroom.

Therefore, I highly recommend reviewing the photos found with the “Find All Missing Photos” command to make sure they are all images you intentionally deleted.

When you choose the “Find All Missing Photos” command, a “Missing Photographs” item will be created in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module in Lightroom, and that option will be selected automatically so you are viewing the photos that are missing. You can also navigate among various folders and collections, such as to confirm that your best photos from a given photo shoot remain in your catalog, and that you’ll only be deleting outtakes.

After reviewing the missing photos, if you would like to remove all of them from your Lightroom catalog (because you had previously deleted the actual image files) you can select the “Missing Photographs” item from the Catalog section of the left panel. Then choose Edit > Select All from the menu to select all of the missing photos. You can then remove all selected photos from your Lightroom catalog by pressing the Delete key on the keyboard or by choosing Photo > Remove Photos from the menu.

Because you are removing photos that have already been deleted, the confirmation dialog will only offer the option to Remove the photos or Cancel the removal, without the option to delete the photos from your hard drive.

Backup Recommendation


Today’s Question: I’m using an iMac with OS X 10.9.5 installed. I’m using Time Machine and a second backup hard drive. The backup utility that came with it seems erratic and I don’t trust it. Can you recommend a utility? If I were using a PC I would simply use the Microsoft utility SyncToy.

Tim’s Quick Answer: I actually recommend synchronization software (similar to what is possible with the SyncToy utility from Microsoft) for backing up your photos and other important data. For this purpose I use GoodSync ( as a great solution.

More Detail: My personal preference is to have a backup that is an exact copy of the original data. In other words, I prefer a “full” backup rather than an “incremental” backup. Put simply, if a hard drive fails I want to be able to connect a backup storage device and continue working without interruption, rather than having to go through an extended restore process. I wrote about this in more detail in the September 2014 issue of Pixology magazine (

There are a variety of solutions available for a synchronization backup, but the best solution I’ve found recently is GoodSync ( This software is available for both Windows and Macintosh, and allows you to perform a synchronization backup from one drive to another.

I use GoodSync to create an exact copy of my primary photos, my data storage drive, my video production drive, and all of the other (many!) drives I use in my work. By using a synchronization approach to backing up my photos and other data, not only can my backups be performed relatively quickly, but I also have a full copy of my original data that can be used quickly and seamlessly if I experience a hard drive failure. And considering I experience a failure of an external hard drive about once every two years or so, to me this is an important consideration.

Changing Aspect Ratio


Today’s Question: Is there an easy way to change the aspect ratio of an existing image (Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.)? I have a client who needs the photos I took of his house in 4:3 format versus 16:9.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can crop many images at once in Lightroom to any specific aspect ratio using a crop preset in the Library module.

More Detail: For reasons I’m not aware of, you can’t create a preset in the Develop module in Lightroom that includes cropping. However, you can crop as part of the Quick Develop set of controls available on the right panel in the Library module.

If you want to apply the crop in an automated way to multiple images, the first step is to select the images you want to crop and then make sure you are viewing those photos in the grid view (not the loupe view). To switch to the grid view simply press the letter “G” on the keyboard.

With the images selected in the grid view, you can click the spinner control (the triangle) to the right of the Saved Preset popup to reveal the Crop Ratio popup. Click that popup and choose the desired aspect ratio. All of the selected images will be cropped based on that aspect ratio, with the vertical versus horizontal orientation respected for the crop.

It is important to keep in mind that when you crop multiple images in this way the crop will be centered on the photo. This won’t always create the best result for each image. Of course, you could always revisit the crop for each image by selecting the image you want to refine and choosing the Crop tool in the Develop module.