As mentioned in my last post, I just made the switch to a Mac. One of the migration duties was to move my Lightroom catalog and photos… fortunately this is a pretty simple task. Here are the steps I went through:
Moving the Lightroom Catalog and Photos
- Download Lightroom from Adobe. The Lightroom license allows for installation on two computers, so my existing license key for Windows works just fine on the Mac.
- Install Lightroom on the Mac.
- Locate your Lightroom catalog and preview cache files. The catalog (filename ends in .lrcat) is the Lightroom database containing all of your edits and metadata. The cache file (same name as your catalog, plus the word Previews, and ending in .lrdata) contains the image thumbnails for your photos. It’s not necessary to move this file, but if you do, you’ll save a bit of time because Lightroom won’t have to rebuild all of your thumbnails.
- Take a look at where your photos are stored. After moving Lightroom, you’ll need to update the file locations so that it can find your files. Hopefully you have your images in some sort of logical storage locations.
- Move your Lightroom catalog and cache files to the Mac. I used an external (firewire) hard drive but you could also use any other file transfer method. I created a “Lightroom” folder within the “Pictures” folder for my Lightroom files and put them inside.
- If you’re moving your photo files, move them at this point. If they’re on a external drive or another storage location that isn’t changing, continue along…
- Open Lightroom on the Mac and open up your catalog. You should see thumbnails but if you look in the Folders panel, you’ll see that the names are grayed out because Lightroom can’t find the files.
- The final step is to help Lightroom find your photo files. Right-click on a grayed-out folder location and choose “Find Missing Folder” and browse to the correct location.
That’s it! You’ve moved Lightroom and all of your data is intact. You can also move plugins and presets which are as straightforward as moving them from the PC file location to the Mac file location.
Moving Lightroom Plugins and Presets
Since Lightroom lets you choose your own plugin location, you will simply move files from your plugin location on your PC to a location on your Mac, then reinstall the plugin via Lightroom’s Plugin Manager (on the File menu).
Presets might be a little more hidden. On Windows Vista, they’re stored in folders under C:\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\. On Windows XP, they’ll be in C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Adobe\Lightroom. Move your custom presets to the Mac. On the Mac, you’ll want to store them inside ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom.
Overall it’s a fairly simple process given the complexity of the program.