Lightroom Videos

Video – Merging Multiple Lightroom Catalogs

Catalog questions always seem to be at the top of everyone’s list. So this week I’ve covered one that I get a lot. It deals with merging catalogs. A good example would be if you’ve got one catalog for professional work and then maybe one catalog for your personal photos. But you decide at some point you want to merge them together into one. I’ll show you how you can merge both catalogs into either one of them or how to create a brand new catalog and merge the others into it. Enjoy.

Click here to download the video to your computer. [Right-click and choose the “Save As” option]



  1. Peter De Schryver 27 June, 2011 at 05:44 Reply

    Hi everyone,

    Question regarding the topic. Hope someone can help me…

    Could anyone tell me how to synchronize “publish-services” from one catalog to another?

    A program called Lightroom Voyager claims to do the trick but doesn’t find anything to export??? I’ve got 6 publish services I’d like to export-import…

    So basically, I’m trying to find a way to export publish-services from one catalog and import them into another…

    Any suggestions?

    Tx in advance.


  2. sean chandler 25 May, 2010 at 16:46 Reply

    How about splitting a catalog? My one and only LR catalog contains 28,000 images, and is sure to get to the 50,000 number that I read is the number you dont want to go over.

    My files are in folders with the format photos/20XX-photos/jobID

    My jobs are either sports, properties, assignment, stock or personal.

    Any suggestions for splitting the catalog?

  3. Andy 13 October, 2009 at 11:59 Reply


    Great website, by far the best LR resource out there!

    Got a quick question regarding ‘finding missing folders’ in LR. Am I doing something wrong, or does lightroom NOT look in subfolders when you ‘find’ a parent-level folder?

    I archive by yeardate and I’ve consolidated catalogues twice now and had to manually point LR at each day to import!

    I did it by moving the files then exporting just the catalogue, then reimport and relocate the photos. I know there are other ways, but this is faster by far.

    Surely I should just be able to point it at the year folder then it would check the folders underneath for a match!? The data structure hasn’t changed, just the drive location!

    Thanks for any help, and again great site!

  4. Alex 9 October, 2009 at 22:33 Reply

    Yes PSW was da bomb..I’d’ve said hello but you were pretty much swamped by afficianados post lectures. I do have a question about sidecar files; is converting to DNG a good reason partially because moving sidecares can be risky as in merging catalogues etc. (i.e. is it possible to loose them that way)?

  5. ned 5 October, 2009 at 07:46 Reply

    Matt…hope you had a great PS World!
    Totally unrelated question…assuming you are aware that On One’s products STILL do not work in Snow Leopard (PS crashes regularly)…and their response on their site displays NO sense of urgency.

    I, and I am sure many others, buy a LOT of stuff based on yours and Scott’s recommendations…might want to give OnOne a little shout out my friend. They probably got an earful at PS World!


  6. leandro martin 5 October, 2009 at 04:40 Reply

    Is it possible to use a Lightroom catalog made with the Mac version, with one made with the Windows version?


  7. Mohamed 5 October, 2009 at 02:43 Reply

    Thanks. This is the best lightroom website.

    I have a problem. I want to export all my photos of the same catalog as jpegs but I want to keep the same folder structure (basically I want to export the folders also not put them in just one folder). Is there a plugging for this?
    I want to synchronize these folders with my Ipod touch.


  8. Rory 4 October, 2009 at 15:49 Reply

    Since we are on the topic of managing catalogues, could you let me know it this is possible: I have a shoot with about 3000 images in my main catalogue (Cat1), and I am going on a lengthy trip. I want to export the shoot to a new catalogue (Cat2) without the images (just the previews) and then update all the metadata and keywording while I am away. Then I want to import the Cat2 metadata changes back into Cat1 when I get back.

    Is this possible?


  9. Kevin Pepin 4 October, 2009 at 12:56 Reply

    Can you do a video on the easiest way to move photos from multiple hard drives to one in lightroom. I have filled up several external drives and want to consolidate to a drobo but don’t want to have lightroom spend hours to create a new catalog if I just move the files outside of lightroom.


  10. Elliott Coleman 4 October, 2009 at 11:05 Reply

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but, If you are using DNG files are the changes not imbedded into the file?
    What about if you use sidecar files? then surely all the changes will follow across the two catalogues just like any changes I make in lightroom are automatically picked up in Bridge and Adobe Camera RAW

  11. barb 4 October, 2009 at 11:02 Reply

    Thanks so much, Matt! This is really a timely post for me. I have two huge catalogs that i want to merge and have some of the same images (with different adjustments) in each catalog (don’t was silly of me!). As an extension to Darren and Gary’s question, i want to merge the 2 to capture all the different adjustment, but is LR smart enough to not duplicate the same RAW files once it merges the 2? i could try with a dummy file, but thought i would ask first.

  12. Tom 2 October, 2009 at 20:32 Reply

    From the video it appears that the imported catalog stays in it’s original location, no? SO is it really an import or does the New catalog just reference the “imported” one(s)?

    If one is importing a couple of 10GB catalogs into a new one, but the old catalogs are still on the HD, that seems so counter productive to me.

  13. David Schoengold 2 October, 2009 at 17:03 Reply

    Darren — I don’t think Matt answered the question you intended. If you are asking whether adjustments you have already made in a catalog will go along if you import that catalog into another one, the answer is yes. However, if you are asking whether future adjustments in one catalog will carry over to a different catalog, the answer is no.

  14. Matt Kloskowski 2 October, 2009 at 12:54 Reply

    Gary and Darren – Nope. Adjustments made in one catalog won’t be seen in the other. Lightroom catalogs have absolutely no connection with each other. Whatever you do in one catalog is totally unknown to the other one unless you re-export the catalog.

    Matt K

  15. Darren Goldstein 2 October, 2009 at 09:50 Reply

    Hey Matt, love your videos and tips – they’re a huge help! first time commenter long time watcher (hehehe).

    I’m with Gary on this one…how will changes/adjustments/ratings etc be effected?

    I’m currently using only one catalog but have close to 50,000 images in it. It contains both my work and personal images. I want to split the two catalogs but am afraid I may loose all the work I’ve done on those images. I understand that most adjustments will move with the files (with raw file), but what about collections, adjustments, ratings, flag status etc etc etc…what stays? and what goes?

    thanks Matt,

  16. Rene Delbar 2 October, 2009 at 09:08 Reply

    Dear Matt,

    According to my count, this is exactly the 100th video posted in Lightroom Killer Tips. Congratulations!

    Your regular contributions have been a formidable help for me to become a better LR operator. They always are informative, practical and easy to digest. Hey, they even made me subscribe to Kelby Training!

    Sincere thanks for your efforts, I hope you keep up the good work!

    Warm regards, René

  17. Gary Gray 1 October, 2009 at 21:43 Reply

    So, this raises the question… Will adjustments made in a merged catalog show up in the previous catalogs used to merge into one catalog and vice-versa?

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