The Lightroom catalog is something that confuses many new Lightroom users. Often they ignore the catalog and entire Library module and simply import and edit. My goal is that everyone will come to understand what the catalog is, how to manage it, and how to efficiently organize their images inside Lightroom.

So, what is the "catalog?" Simply put, it is a compilation of images you have imported into Lightroom.

You can have one catalog or several catalogs.

When you first install Lightroom, a catalog is created for you, either from scratch with no images in it or from a Photoshop Elements Organizer catalog (it will ask you if you want to upgrade that catalog - click yes).

The catalog is like a big file cabinet. It is empty until you put pictures into it. If you simply import, import, import pictures without any organizational system, the cabinet drawers will be full of pictures just thrown in there, making it very hard to find what you want.

Adobe gave us two complementing ways to organize image: keywords and collections. Keywords are any tags/labels that might apply to an image. They are what you can use the help find similar images, like all images tagged with horses, or beach, or planes, etc.

The real organizing comes by using collections and collection sets. If we go back to the filing cabinet analogy, the drawers are collection sets and the folders in the drawers are the collections. Gayle shared great information about collections in a recent post, and we will talk about collections more in depth in a subsequent post. 

Hello!  I’m Amanda, a quirky, introverted Mom of four, who is passionate about helping others learn their cameras and editing software. I also currently homeschool my four kids, ages 13 to 6, all whom run away when they see me carrying my camera.  Visit me at my website and facebook page.