Lightroom Catalog: Answers to Your Top 10 FAQs

 Lightroom excels at organization and post-production photography work.  But the first thing many photographers often want to know is: “Why should I use Lightroom to organize my photographs?”

lightroom questions

The Lightroom catalog offers three solid reasons. First, your images can be stored anywhere. Second, all changes you make keeps your original picture file exactly the same as when you shot it. Finally, you can see the changes you make to your photographs as you work.

1. What is a Lightroom Catalog?

Your Lightroom Catalog answers 3 questions. First, where is my photo? It shows you where your photographs are. Second, how did I process the photo?A catalog tells you specifically what changes your made, editing your photo in Lightroom.

Third, what settings did I use to take the picture? A catalog will record and store metadata about the photograph, including the location where it was taken. A catalog records and stores changes without altering the original photo file itself. So, Lightroom never ever changes or touches your original photo file.

2. Where is my Catalog located?

The Windows and Mac default for the Lightroom catalog are:

a) Windows: C:\Users\[USERNAME]\Pictures\Lightroom<Catalog Folder Name>

b) Mac: [USERNAME]\Pictures\Lightroom

3. How many photographs can a catalog hold?

It is known that Lightroom can store many images. Photographer and best selling author Scott Kelby  has over 6 million photographs in one of his catalogs.

4. How do I create a new Catalog ?

Specify the name and location of the new catalog folder, and then click Save (Windows) or Create (Mac OS). Lightrrom will then reset and give you an empty library module for you to import photographs into. The folder name will be the same as the catalog name, plus a suffix. For instance, if you were to name your folder “Nature Photos”, the catalog file will be “NaturePhotos.lrcat .

5. I am a Lightroom beginner, Should I make a master catalog or move my catalog?

No. Moving catalogs is a seven step process at the very least, and it can be confusing. Photographers who move their catalogs from a local hard drive to a removable one can forget to backup their files, have problems with photos not showing up in Lightroom, Lightroom not recognizing an external drive letter (C: , D:) and with computer crashes.

The best advice I can offer for Lightroom beginners is to set up your catalog on a local drive and leave it there. We will cover Master Catalogs in another article.

6. Why do these Lightroom issues arise?

Well, it’s because Lightroom does not store images. The images are stored in your file system. A Lightroom catalog only stores a pointer, a path or a signpost to the photos and metadata about the photos on your drive. For Lightroom beginners, it helps also to just work with one catalog.

For you photographers who absolutely have to move your catalog, I’ll share my experience. As an Adobe Certified Expert, I’d recommend you learn how to move catalogs from Julianne Kost at Adobe, here (http: // )

7. My thumbnails are suddenly gone, and I get a message when I moved my catalog that says missing .lrdata file?

Open your Lightroom catalog folder. Try to find a file called ‘<Lightroom catalog name> Previews.lrdata’.

This is called the previews cache. This is where lightroom stores the preview thumbnails. Select it and move that file out of the folder and start Lightroom. Lightroom should automatically create a new cache and start rebuilding the previews automatically. Your image thumbnails should reappear.

8. How should I select my best, or reject my worst, images in Lightroom?

Hold CTRL or CMD and adjust the arrow up to FLAG an image as a keeper, or down to add a “rejected” flag. You will see a Flag or a Flag with an “x” in the upper left corner of your photo preview.

9. How do I change my Catalog settings?

Click on Edit > Catalog Settings.

Everyone who uses Lightroom wants to change their catalog settings at some point. You can change general settings, metadata settings and file handling. For instance, for a faster workflow, to get faster previews, I changed the size of the photo previews to 1024 pixels, instead of the default 1440.

10. How do I make sure I get the latest Lightroom version?

Open the program and click Help > Check for Updates. You may get a message that reads “your software is up to date. No updates are available.”

11. BONUS FAQ: My Lightroom program is running slow or not opening smoothly. What should I do?

Check to make sure you have 2 Gigabytes of free space on your hard disk. This amount is one of the system requirements for Lightroom Creative Cloud (Lightroom CC) and Lightroom 6. If you can, upgrade to the recommended 8 gigabytes of RAM.

These suggestions are a few basics that I’ve learned, and are not meant for every photographer’s needs or workflow. .


All written content (and most images) in these articles are copyrighted by the authors. Copyrighted material from Apogee Photo Mag should not be used elsewhere without seeking the authors permission.

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