I have imported a catalogue into a new catalogue using PS8. Thes tags have all been imported as a straight list without any of my categories under 'Imported Tags'. I need the categories. What did I do wrong?
You can't import a catalog into a new catalog.
What you did wrong was you imported the photos into a new catalog, this is the cause of the symptoms you have observed.
If you want your categories, you need to find the previous PSE catalog somewhere on one of your hard disks, and make use of that. We can tell you exactly how to do this if you give us much more detail about what you are trying to do.
I am managing a small (4000 photos) photo archive for a local charity. I am given new material to scan in and also corrections to make to the metadata. Extensive use is made of custom key words arranged in categories.The intention is to update the archive on other users computers every now and again with my updated version.My plan was to back up the updated archive on my computer to a usb stick, create a new destination folder on my C drive, create a new archive in PSE, then import the updated archive from my hard drive to the new PSE archive. All this works ok except that I lose all categorization of my key words - i just get an alphabetical list of 'Imported Keywords'. Hope this is clear. Thanks for any help you can give
Importing photos will not preserve your categories and keywords in their hierarchical order. Emphasis on "will not".
To make this work, you would have to transfer the catalog file from your computer to other people's computers, along with any new photos. For this to work, the photos must be in the exact same folders on each computer. If this is a Windows computer, and your photos are in the folder D:\Photos, then they must be in D:\Photos on every other computer as well. Your hierarchical categories and keywords are preserved.
Another possibility is to use the PSE function File->Backup Catalog on the main computer, have the backup on a portable drive, and then bring the portable drive to other computers and select File->Restore Catalog. Your hierarchical categories and keywords are preserved. In this case, the photos and catalog file be restored anywhere on any computer; however each time you do this you will get a complete set of photos restored and a new catalog file; so you would have to be extremely diligent in removing old versions of the catalog and old versions of the photos.
As you can see, PSE was not meant as a multi-user application, there are drawbacks and a lot of effort involved to make PSE into "kind of sort of" a multi-user application. I think you might want to look into applications that were designed to be multi-user, such as DAMinion. I have not used this software so I am not recommending it; I only point out that it appears to fit your needs better than PSE.
Thank you so much for you help. Something you said in para made me realise my simple mistake, I was using Import files instead of Restore Backup to finish the process. I've now redone it and I have my categories intact!