Working with multiple catalogs

For most photographers using Lightroom, working with one main catalog will be best. But there will inevitably be cases where using multiple catalogs can help.

Consider that through the import and synchronize processes, a single Lightroom catalog "knows" about certain photos and the work you've done to them; if you import pictures into one catalog, and later work on them in a different catalog, whatever you did in the previous catalog will not be visible in the latter catalog unless you sync data between the catalogs.

For this reason, I think using multiple catalogs should only be a consideration when you've really got a handle on the database concepts of Lightroom. From that foundation, you'll find all kinds of ways to use multiple catalogs to empower your workflow.

Import from catalog on network

Although Lightroom currently can't directly open a catalog over a network, you CAN import from a catalog on a network drive! If you're in a workgroup environment, with multiple people needing to access the same data, you can set up a system using publish services and import from catalog to make sure everybody's in sync.

About catalog locations and naming

Lightroom can open and work with a catalog in a location on any local drive. Also, you can use any name for a Lightroom catalog. (Obviously, you wouldn't want to have multiple catalogs with the same name. that's a recipe for disaster.)

The default locations of camera and lens profiles are as follows:

Mac os x: M acintosh HD /Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/ CameraProfiles

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.

Use care when renaming existing catalogs

The catalog and the preview package have a symbiotic relationship; the locations of the preview files are stored in the catalog. If you rename the catalog (or its preview package) in Finder or Explorer, Lightroom won't be able to match them up and will need to rebuild the previews for all the photos in the catalog. Of course, this isn't always necessarily a problem, and in some cases may actually be desirable. You can rename any catalog file in Finder or Explorer, but plan to allow Lightroom to rebuild previews afterward.

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. 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).

Setting the Default Catalog

The default catalog that loads when Lightroom launches is set in the main Lightroom Preferences. You can also hold the Option or Alt key when launching Lightroom to change the catalog that will be loaded.

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