Image metadata is stored inside LR's database, the .lrcat file, so if you transferred this file to the new HD all the information should be there. And how about the development settings of your images, are they still there? Make sure you did not re-imported all the images again. Another thought, are you opening the right catalog?
thank you. I think I used the wrong term - instead of meta data, it should be key words.
I normally run LR5 from my hard drive on my desktop.
My desktop hard drive is getting full so I decided to move my images to an external hard drive.
But when I go to open LR5 it does not recognize the new hard drive nor see any images and in order to access the images the only option I see is to re-import all 76K images. Obviously, I am reluctant to do that because all the keywords and operational data from LR5 will not be included.
No, do not re-import your images. I assume you can see the thumbnails in the library module, just cannot access the full images, right? If this is the case there should be an exclamation mark in the top right corner of every one of your pictures and you only have to tell LR where the images are now.
Click the exclamation mark of one of the images and a dialog window should pop-up, telling you that LR cannot find the file, but with an option to locate it. Press "Locate" and navigate to the folder on your new HD where the file is. If in the new external HD you kept the same folder structure that you had on the internal disk, LR will be able to find all your images and re-link them to the database without further intervention.