18 Replies Latest reply on Jul 9, 2017 7:46 AM by richardplondon

    Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs

    cbassett03 Level 1

      So, I have about 5 years worth of photos amassed in my "master" Lightroom catalog (only catalog).  I'm wondering if there is a way that I can split up my master catalog into a few smaller catalogs without losing any edits, etc.

       

      The way I sorted my master catalog is by year, then by month, and then by event.  The problem I've run into is that since I travel, I have to store much of my stuff on external HDDs and I have about 3 HDDs with photos.  What I want to be able to do is store the catalog on each drive with the contents of that drive (ie. Catalog with just photos from 2005-2010 on the drive that contains those years' photos, a second catalog for 2011-2015 on the drive that has photos only from 2011-2015, etc).

      So basically, I'll have a separate catalog for every 5 years or so of photos.

       

      The reason I want to do this is so that when I travel, I can carry along only the drives (And thus, catalogs) that I need.  I don't really use smart previews and don't really care to.

       

      Can this be done, and if so, how?  The main thing is I don't want to lose my edits during the process so if there is a way to export a part of a catalog into a new catalog, that would be great.

        • 1. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
          BarbBinder Adobe Community Professional

          You posted this question in the non-technical Lounge forum. I moved it to the Lightroom forum so that you will get an answer.

           

          ~Barb

          • 2. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
            dj_paige Level 9

            Breaking up the catalog is a poor idea (in fact, I have said in the past it is a horrible idea), for about 22 zillion different reasons.

             

            If you want to travel with your catalog, and you can't take all the photos along, then create smart previews for the photos of interest, and then you can fit the catalog and smart previews on one drive, and there's no need to break up the catalog. With smart previews, you don't need the original photos, and the smart previews take up far less space than the originals, and you can do everything in the catalog with smart previews that you can do with the actual photos (except export at full size, and maybe one or two other things).

            • 3. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
              cbassett03 Level 1

              OK but smart previews will let me do exports of, say, 50% or smaller (to JPEG)?  Will it let me do 100% quality exports too, or is that limited because of the smart preview?

               

              Also, is there a way to rebuild smart previews on existing images, or if you change the quality/size of smart previews, can you have LR rebuild existing ones?  (Originally, I had only done very basic smart previews during import because I didn't foresee this being too much of an issue--now it seems that it's going to be, so I want to know if I can generate large(r) smart previews on the existing files.)

              • 4. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
                dj_paige Level 9

                There is a max size limit to the smart previews. If there was not such a limit, then the smart previews would take up more space.

                 

                You cannot export full size from smart previews; you can export as large as the smart preview size in pixels.

                 

                You can choose any quality level you want when you export. The quality level slider is not in Percent units, it is simply a number from 0 to 100.

                 

                You can rebuild smart previews in the Library Module, use Library->Previews->Build Smart Previews. There is no choice on the size or quality.

                • 5. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
                  cbassett03 Level 1

                  What are the "side effects" of breaking up your main catalog into smaller ones? 

                   

                  I'm aware that when I open LR, I'd have to either choose a catalog, or close the default one each time and open the one I want to work in.

                  • 6. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
                    John Waller Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                    Lots of discussion online:

                    e.g. https://www.lightroomqueen.com/one-or-multiple-catalogs/

                     

                    How many photos are in your catalog? If less than 100K, it would not be worth the effort. If more than 1,000,000 it might be worth a thought but still probably not required.

                    • 7. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
                      john beardsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                      cbassett03  wrote

                       

                      What are the "side effects" of breaking up your main catalog into smaller ones? 

                       

                      You break up control of your pictures and workflow. It's hard enough to stay in control with everything in one place.

                      • 8. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
                        cbassett03 Level 1

                        So even with smart previews, I don't have to worry about LR "losing track" of files that are not physically present?  My biggest concern is that they would get "discarded" or removed from the catalog (along with any edits) after an extended period of time of not being physically present.  So this doesn't happen on its own???  I just want to make sure it doesn't occur during the integrity verification or optimization stages when LR backs up the catalog.

                         

                        If that's the case (where LR won't do anything to the catalog, other than complain, if files are not physically present) then I'll just stick with the previews and leave everything as one big catalog.  I only have 17k files, which according to the article recommended, is considered small.

                        • 9. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
                          dj_paige Level 9

                          My biggest concern is that they would get "discarded" or removed from the catalog (along with any edits) after an extended period of time of not being physically present.

                          Why is this a concern? Are you planning to discard them?

                           

                          So this doesn't happen on its own???

                          What kind of software would discard your files and your work without your consent? This is an absurd question.

                          • 10. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
                            cbassett03 Level 1

                            No I'm not planning on discarding them. I wanted to make sure that Lightroom doesn't discard them on its own if it can't find the files (for some period of time).  I was concerned that it would remove them from the catalog as a "clean up" process if the files were not detected for some period of time.  I don't plan on doing this myself.

                             

                            Basically, I'm connected to my hard drives half the time, but there are times when where I'm away from the originals for quite some time (a month or so, but I still use LR almost daily).

                            • 11. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
                              Just Shoot Me Adobe Community Professional

                              cbassett03  wrote

                              So this doesn't happen on its own???  I just want to make sure it doesn't occur during the integrity verification or optimization stages when LR backs up the catalog.

                               

                              The only thing that goes missing is the Preview image for photos that are missing and only after a certain time period or if you are browsing the catalog and LR is creating new previews. You will see just a gray box, no image in the box, until you reconnect the drive that is holding those images.

                               

                              But why wouldn't those images be present. Normally people store their images on the same drive whether they were shot in 2004 or 2017.

                              • 12. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
                                cbassett03 Level 1

                                I normally would but I'm on a laptop that has limited space, so I have to resort to external drives for some stuff.  I do need to go through and clean up my catalog, but the primary reason is that I simply have too much stuff (in terms of photos) and my laptop is limited on the number of drives I can install (Currently I can only have two drives, which both spaces are occupied by drives) and since laptop SSDs (large ones, 1TB+) are expensive, I'm trying to make do for some time.

                                 

                                More recently, I've been accumulating images at around 300GB per year, so space goes quick I guess.  (On my next laptop, I do plan to spend a bit more and get a 2TB SSD) but for now, all I have to work with is my 1TB and the other SSD (Windows boot drive) which is near full as it is.

                                • 13. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
                                  John Waller Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                  cbassett03  wrote

                                   

                                  So even with smart previews, I don't have to worry about LR "losing track" of files that are not physically present?  My biggest concern is that they would get "discarded" or removed from the catalog (along with any edits) after an extended period of time of not being physically present.  So this doesn't happen on its own???  I just want to make sure it doesn't occur during the integrity verification or optimization stages when LR backs up the catalog.

                                   

                                  If that's the case (where LR won't do anything to the catalog, other than complain, if files are not physically present) then I'll just stick with the previews and leave everything as one big catalog.

                                  My reading of this suggests that there seems to be a notion that Smart Previews are some sort of system generated, temporary file which Lightroom discards at will during database management operations. This is not the case.

                                   

                                  Smart Previews are switched on by the user via the checkbox, contain vital editing information and can only be consciously discarded by the user. Lightroom treats them with great respect and does not interfere with them, especially not during database management processes. To Lightroom, they are as important as the original photographs.

                                  How to use Smart Previews to view and edit photos in Photoshop Lightroom

                                  • 14. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
                                    cbassett03 Level 1

                                    One other thing is that I sort of imported my photos backwards in to the catalog (so the more recent ones, I have on my laptop, from maybe 2015 to 2017, but those alone consume about 60% of the 1TB).  The older photos are on external drives, but were added later to the catalog.  I'm more concerned about at the end of this year when the 1TB fills and I'll have to come up with something else.  That's what started this whole thing about splitting catalogs.  I thought I could maybe split them up by year, and then offload the older ones (2015 and older) off the computer since I don't really work much with those anymore, except upon request.

                                    • 15. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
                                      cbassett03 Level 1

                                      OK as long as it doesn't do anything with the smart previews, then I guess I'm fine.  I really only work with the current year (and maybe previous year) most of the time.  Usually I don't go back any further to edits as by the time a year or two has passed, I've usually done the edits I Need to and rarely go back into an area thats more than 18 months old, unless someone requests something.

                                      • 16. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
                                        rlbo65129331

                                        It's not absurd for Adobe. We've all been there. I just spent a week manually reconnecting folders that Lightroom didn't follow up a level.

                                        • 17. Re: Break larger Lightroom catalog into smaller catalogs
                                          richardplondon Level 4

                                          rlbo65129331  wrote

                                           

                                          It's not absurd for Adobe. We've all been there. I just spent a week manually reconnecting folders that Lightroom didn't follow up a level.

                                          "Show parent folder" helps significantly there.