Using Multiple Catalogs

You can use one or many catalogs to manage your photo library, though as of this writing the Lightroom application can only have one catalog open at a time. For example, some photographers might use different catalogs for work and personal photos, or a unique catalog for each specific client. Also, using temporary "working catalogs" you can maximize the potential of your workflow. One example of how using multiple catalogs can greatly enable your workflow is when traveling, and using Lightroom on a laptop, then returning home to your main computer. These scenarios are discussed in Chapter 9.

However, regardless of the numerous catalogs you may employ for specific purposes, for most photographers, using a single, "master" catalog for your complete library of photos is usually the best solution.

A Lightroom catalog can only contain one instance of a given image file, based entirely on the file name. And though a single image can be imported into any number of catalogs, this is something you need to do deliberately and carefully. Working on the same file—or worse yet, copies of the same file—in different catalogs can lead to real trouble.

Open the Catalog Settings dialog box

Use meaningful names for catalogs

If you use multiple catalogs, name each one for its specific purpose and keep the names simple and functional. For example, if you're shooting a wedding, name the catalog for the client; if you're on a trip, name it for the trip, etc. If you use just one catalog, sticking with the default name is fine!

Find catalogs and eliminate unused ones

To fi nd all the Lightroom catalogs on your computer, search in Finder or Explorer for folders and files containing the file extension .lrcat.

Double-click a catalog anywhere in the file system

Opening a Lightroom catalog in Finder or Explorer will launch the Lightroom application and load that catalog. Extending this method, you could place an alias or shortcut on your desktop to ensure you load the correct catalog when Lightroom starts.

Move data between catalogs

If you need to combine data from multiple catalogs, use the Export from Catalog and Import from Catalog menu commands. See Chapter 9 for more about this.

Always know the name and location of the catalog you're using

Many photographers have had big problems unknowingly using more than one catalog! As you can imagine, this can result in significant confusion and frustration. The easiest way to ensure that you're in the catalog that you intend is to check the name of the catalog, which is located in the window title bar in Lightroom's standard window mode; see Figure 1-3. You can also view the name and location of the current catalog in the Catalog Settings dialog box (accessed from the Lightroom menu on Mac OS X or the Edit menu on Windows); see Figure 1-4.

^ O Q Lightroom Z Catalog,lrcat - Adobe Photoshop Lightroom - Library

Figure 1-3

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  • ivan
    Can you have multiple lightroom catalogs?
    7 years ago

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