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It really isn't a very difficult process. Hopefully, you have all of your image folders organized within one master folder. The best way to make the change is to COPY that master image folder to the new external hard drive. Then start Lightroom. It will still be pointing to the folder on the other hard drive. Right-click on the master folder and choose to update the folder location. In the dialog that appears point Lightroom to the master folder on the new external hard drive. That's all there is to it. Now Lightroom will be synchronized to all of the images on the external hard drive and you can delete the master image folder on your computer. If the folders aren't organized within one master folder then you'll have two copy and update the folder location of each folder, but it still isn't a very difficult process.
thanks Jim. I attempted to do this, but although the new drive now appears within LR, all the folders below it now have a question mark next to them and the same error message appears "the file named X is offline or missing" when the file is viewed in LR. Suggestions?
It seems to me that you "probably" haven't followed the steps completely because it should have worked. With Lightroom closed, if you open your system browser and look at the new external hard drive and open the folders, are the images in the folders like you expect them to be? Are they arranged like they were on the main hard drive?