Lightroom has become unworkable due to 12-15 GB of memory disappearing off my Macbook's hard drive whenever I want to work with it. I am starting every editing session with RAW files copied directly from my camera's SD card to a 5TB external hard drive. I'm then accessing them from the drive, and importing only the files I want. But if I import even 20 or so, I'm suddenly "critically low on space." Like I go from having those 15 gigs available to maybe 30 MB. And unless I force quit Lightroom, my computer is basically unusable. I want to repeat: I'm working on the files ON the external hard drive. Is the trouble that I'm importing them in the first place? I have looked all over to the answer to this specific question, but there's nothing I can see here.
I realize that many of you do this as second nature, and some of the answers I've seen to similar questions are someone ... direct. I'm willing to suffer a verbal beat-down if it means I can have my laptop back. I have a few weeks' worth of images I'd love to play with, and I'd hate to go back to shooting in jpg.
You have to work pretty hard to get a beatdown from anyone here. You don't need to import raw files, they stay on your hard drive referenced in the Library. All your edits are contained in the catalog which can reside on the external or on your internal drive.
Suggestions (summarized - Ask for details if unsure) :
1. In future Import your photos to the Lightroom catalog (files copied directly to external) using the "ADD" option. This leaves them on the external drive and does not copy or move them to the internal drive.
2. Move your Catalog file (xxxxx.LRCAT) to the External drive and open it there. This will keep the Catalog and the Previews folders also on the External drive.
3. When working correctly from the External drive, you can delete the Catalog and previews folders from the Internal drive.