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Transferring Catalogs from L3 to L4 on new Mac from external

Jan 19, 2013 11:32 AM

I just bought a new Mac and I want to transfer old catalogs (LR 3 version) from my external and put the catalogs on my new Mac using Lightroom 4. Any suggestions on how to do this? I am having trouble getting the catalogs to save under my Pictures folder on my harddrive....



  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 19, 2013 11:50 AM   in reply to rachm7

    You don't have to save a Lr catalog in the <My Pictures> folder, although that is the default location.

    Your catalog can be anywhere, and in fact, I would recommend that you do not put it into the <My Pictures. folder. The reason for this is that the <My Pictures> folder tends to get cluttered because all kinds of images will be saved in  there.

    If you have, select a different - internal - drive than the one where your OS and Lr resides for your catalog. Create a folder named <Lightroom Catalog> and save your catalogs in there.

    Otherwise create a new Folder <Lightroom Catalog> on your C-drive.


    Lr4 does not work directly with the Lr3 catalogs. It will update any Lr3 catalog (in fact it makes a copy and updates that), and the updated catalog cannot be used by Lr3 (you will get the message that the catalog is "too new" when you try to open it in Lr3).



    Copy (not move! you want to leave the Lr3 catalog on your external, in case anything goes wrong!) the Lr3 catalog via Mac Finder from the external to the location you choose. Then open Lr4 and go >File >Open  Catalog and navigate to the location of the copies Lr3 catalog. Lr4 will then update the catalog.

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    Jan 19, 2013 12:15 PM   in reply to rachm7

    rachm7 wrote:


    but then it won't recognize that any photos are there unless my external is plugged in.

    Yes, that is expected behavior. Photos are not in the catalog. With Lr you have to think in two ways:

    One is the catalog. This is the database where Lr stores (saves) everything you do in Lr.

    And Two are your photos (the image files) that can reside anywhere on your computer - internal or external drive.

    Photos do not have to be on the same drive as the catalog.


    So, when you edit a photo that is saved on your external drive, your edits are stored (saved) in the catalog that is on an internal drive.

    With Lr you always need both: photos (image files) and catalog.


    So it seems to me everything is fine: your catalog is where you want it to be and your photos are still on your external drive.


    Question: Do your photos have question marks on the frame (in Grid View) Do your folder names in the folders panel have a question mark in front of the names?

    If this is not the case, then everythin is fine.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 19, 2013 12:45 PM   in reply to rachm7

    rachm7 wrote:


    Because I would like to be able to open my photos and the catalog without having my external plugged in. Do I need to make a separate folder for my images to be saved on my internal? Sorry this is just fairly confusing to me. Thanks again for the help.


    If you want to edit your photos without plugging in the external you have to save your photos (the image files) on an internal drive. Otherwise Lr cannot work with the photos while the external is unplugged. Lr will say that the file is "missing or offline".

    And yes, in that case  you have to create a folder "All my photos" (or whatever you like) on your internal drive and copy or move your photos to this folder.


    But why? What is wrong with the external being plugged in? Is this on a laptop and you want to edit photos while away from home? Or is the external drive the backup for your photos?


    Most photographers have their photos on external drives.

    External drives are often much larger than internal ones. And photos are large files, so the drive fills up fast.

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