Harvey, I know you have been around in these forums for a while, so I am going to assume that on your previous computer, your photos were ALREADY imported into Lightroom. In that case, you DO NOT import the photos again on the new computer.
Instead, you transfer the catalog file to the new computer, open it in Lightroom, and then reconnect all the folders (in the Folder Panel, right-click on a folder and select "Find Missing Folder"; ideally, if your transfer keeps the same folder hierarchy, you only need to do this once, on the top level folder) More details: http://members.lightroomqueen.com/index.php?/Knowledgebase/Article/View/1165/187/how-do-i- move-my-catalog-photos-and-other-lightroom-files-to-a-new-computer
So, how long does it take? If you do it the way I described, a few minutes at most.
Regarding "help organize my catalogs", the best organization that I know of is to put them all into a single catalog (and then the issue of "organizing catalogs" goes away). There are situations where you might reasonably want multiple catalogs, for example, when your subject matter is completely non-overlapping, like business and personal, but otherwise one catalog is the way to go. This should be a separate activity, begun after the transfer to the new computer has everything working properly.
have 550 gb photo files on my pc which apple has been transferring to the mac since last friday night.
How exactly has that been happening? Are the 2 computers connected via a network? Or did you transfer stuff onto another hard drive?
It sounds like LR isn't the issue here - just that you need a better way of moving the data from one computer to the other.
yes, my photos are already in LR on my pc. am happy to know that this is all there is to it. i should have googled it first because when i did i found several sites dealing with exactly this subject.the question that i had asked about a week ago as to whether i should store my photo files in the hard drive or on an external hard drive has been answered for me. due to one or more corrupted files, the apple store people were only able to transfer about 300 of the 555gb photo files that were on my pc. that means that i will have to use the external drive to access the photos. that is ok with me.
i could link LR on the mac with the photo files on the hard drive. that would show me the missing folders and i could drag and drop them from the ext drive onto the hard drive but i think that would be too tedious and time consuming,