You only need one catalog. Your files can be spread across multiple hard drives. The catalog can keep track of your images wherever they are located. Since you are moving to a new computer and a new version of Lightroom, you will probably find this link to be quite helpful:
Thanks. But what if the original Catalog I'd used is on one external, and I've been uploading and editing photos for 18+ months across multiple new drives, that were not connected at the same time as the first drive with the original catalog. Where is that catalog data stored? Those drives simply have dated folders by year/day, no catalog.
If you have been using one catalog, all of the work you have done, all of the changes you have done are stored in that one catalog. It doesn't matter where that catalog is stored. Now if your images have been moved to different drives you might have to do some relinking. Hopefully, they are still in the same folders they have been in all along. For instance, let's say that you have a dated folder that was on drive 1 and it's now on drive 2. You would open the catalog regardless of where it is located and you would right-click on that folder which is being shown on drive 1 and you would choose to update the folder location. You would now tell Lightroom that it is located on drive 2. That's all there is to it. You'll have to do that for all of the different folders that may be on different drives. But the adjustments will then be reconciled and pointed to the right folders on the right drives and your work can continue be sure to read that link that I provided. It should help you quite a bit.
Thanks. Looks like when I started working off the laptop in January of last year, it created a new catalog, since I had to add Lightroom to that machine, and I was using a mobile external drive. So here's what I am working with:
- 2008 iMac with Lightroom (4 I think?), tied to 2 external drives that carry all folders tied to Catalog 1 (2012 - 2105: folders have never changed or been retitled, all are organized by year, then by day.)
- 2012 Macbook Air with Lightroom CC, and Catalog 2 (2016 - Mar. 2017).
- 1 CRASHED mobile external drive (1 TB), with all of my photos from Jan. 2016 - March 2017. Trying to find a solution for salvaging the drive. If I can't save it, because the Catalog 2 (which ties to those images), is on the 2012 Macbook Air hard drive (thankfully), if I re-upload some of those images from old Memory Cards, will the edits I made come through the Catalog and match to the images, since the naming convention should be the same?
- 1 new mobile external drive (2 TB) with my photos from April (tied to Catalog 2).
- One new 2015 Macbook Pro, newly download Lightroom CC, ready to go.
I would like to merge all of this onto the new Macbook Pro, and that will be my only machine moving forward, and I will dock it with the externals. I need to find a manageable back up system, but that's a separate issue.
Any guidance on how to pull that off would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
One catalog file, on the new MacBook Pro internal drive.
You can merge catalogs by opening one catalog (this will be the master) and then importing the remaining catalogs (which is NOT the same as importing the photos, that would be the wrong thing to do). To import the catalog, use the Lightroom command File->Import from Another Catalog.
Great, thank you. 2 more questions:
- IF I cannot salvage the one external drive, can I re-import the photos and map to the existing Catalog (so I don't have to re-edit all of the images (which will never happen given the number of images?
- Do I have to upgrade the old iMac with Lightroom 4 before migrating that Catalog to Lightroom CC (I hadn't in the past as the computer is on it's last legs).
I assume you mean you have backups of the photos that were on the external drive that might not be salvageable. Re-importing is completely the wrong things to do. You want to restore the backups to the original location, or point Lightroom to the location of the backups on a different drive (which is not re-importing, which to emphasize, is the wrong thing to do)
No, you don't need to do anything on the old iMac.
No, unfortunately I do not have a back up of the images imported/edited from Jan '16 to Mar '17 that are/were on my Mobile External Drive that crashed (I have exported most of the best edited images to Flickr, so I'm not totally freaking out, but would obviously prefer to have all of the originals). I have the catalog, as that was on the laptop's internal drive, but do not have the files. I was just trying to see if there was a way to re-import the Raw files from the memory cards, and map them to the catalog, to try to save the edits.
It wouldn't be a matter of importing them again because they are already in the catalog. But you would have to copy them to a hard drive and arrange them in exactly the same file structure that they were in previously. Then you could open that catalog and update the folder location, pointing Lightroom to the new location. It would be a little challenging, I would think. But I suppose it could be done.
As I said, and as Jim said, re-importing is not the thing to do, it is in fact the WRONG thing to do and you need to stop thinking about re-importing.
If you have the raw files on the camera cards, then you DO have backups. You copy these RAW original files to the exact same location as they were in before the drive crashed, or you point Lightroom to the file's new location. IMPORTANT NOTE: There is NO importing in this process.