Lightroom Migration

One of my most used programs is Adobe Lightroom, I got this as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan which also provides Photoshop, as well as access to the online portal, and Lightroom Mobile.  I took the subscription out in the latter part of 2015 and all my photographs have been imported into the Lightroom catalogue, and synchronised with Lightroom Mobile allowing me to view, and edit, ‘on the go’ (i.e. on my iPad or iPhone).

Lightroom, if you don’t already know, works by cataloguing the files already present on your machine, and it then creates ‘smart previews’ which are then synchronised across the different estates (local machine, on-line and mobile).  From these smart previews you can apply non-destructive modifications from Lightroom Mobile and then these actions are synchronised back to the desktop catalogue when you next open up the application.  However, because the photographs are only catalogued by Lightroom they’re never actually imported, so the files still have to be accessible on your main machine.

So where’s all this going? Well, having got Lightroom (and other apps) installed on my lovely new machine, I was suddenly faced with the question “How do I migrate the catalogue?”.

Fortunately I found a couple of articles from The Lightroom Queen on her fantastic site – and that’s how I came up with the following steps:

  1. Ensure the raw photographs themselves are saved onto media which both macOS and Windows can read and write (I used an exFAT formatted drive for this)
  2. Copy the files and folders from: “%UserProfile%\Pictures\Lightroom\” to the external media
  3. Connect the external media to the new machine
  4. Copy the files and folders from the external media into: “Macintosh HD/Users/[username]/Pictures/Lightroom/”
  5. Copy the raw photographs to the desired location on the new machine from the external media (this was easy for me as my older JPEGs had already come down from OneDrive, and my RAW files are kept on aSD Card which I just inserted into the drive)
  6. Open Lightroom
  7. Relink the missing files by going to the root of each folder containing images, right-click and choose “Find Missing Folder” the pointing to the new location of the files.

And that was it – my entire catalogue moved from the Surface to the MacBook in less than 30 minutes!

Huge thanks to The Lightroom Queen for her step-by-step articles of course, and a hat-tip to Adobe for creating (relatively) easy software to move.

Oh, and the bonus of moving the data this way? When you sync up with Lightroom Mobile it recognises the catalogue and syncs in next to no time, meaning you save time and bandwidth!


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