How to Merge Lightroom Catalogs

merge lightroom catalogs

Merging Lightroom Catalogs

A very common error that new Lightroom users make is to create multiple Lightroom catalogs.  Over the years I have helped many Lightroom users and have seen many of them create a brand new catalog every time they import. One individual had over 200 separate Lightroom catalogs!  Yikes!

Most Lightroom users only need to have one catalog.  Even if you are a photographer, I highly advise you to keep just one catalog, and use Lightroom Collections to keep your personal and professional images separated.

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What if you already have made multiple catalogs?

Don't worry, there is a fairly simple fix.  You will need to merge your Lightroom catalogs into a single catalog.  In my case, I actually had three Lightroom catalogs: one for my Mac mini desktop computer, an old one from a PC desktop that bit the dust two years ago, and my laptop catalog.  I recently imported the Mac Mini and the PC catalogs into my laptop catalog, and I thought I would share the process with you.

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How to Merge Lightroom Catalogs

To merge catalogs, you will essentially be "importing" pictures from one catalog to another catalog.  When you do that, all the edits, keywords, ratings, flags, collections, and everything attached to each and every image in that catalog gets brought into the catalog you have open.  So, you will be "merging" that particular Lightroom catalog with the one you are currently using.

Step 1. Start, by opening the catalog you want to have as your 'master' catalog.

Step 2. Then go to File in the top menu, then down to 'Import from Another Catalog' and click.

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Step 3. Find the catalog you want to merge with the one you already have open.  When you click on 'Import from Another Catalog', your Mac Finder or Windows folders will open up.  You must navigate to wherever the other catalog is that you want to merge.

Below you can see that I went to an external drive where I had copied the catalog from my desktop computer.

Step 4. Click on the file that ends in .lrcat, and select "Choose."

merge lightroom catalogs 2

Step 5. Once you click 'Choose,' you will see a menu of options to select from just like you can the image below.  Slowly go through each option, making sure you are happy with your choices.

You can choose which folders you want to import from, if you want to move the photos or simply add them to the catalog, or if you want to replace images that you may already have in the current catalog.

*** Please note that the items in the green boxes are NOT NECESSARILY how you should have them, rather highlighting areas that you need to make choices.

how to combine lightroom catalogs

Step 6. Once you have all the images imported (that you want), you can simply delete that old catalog, and the support files that come with it. Or, you can store it away on a separate drive.  After you have all your various catalogs imported, you may want to rename your master Lightroom catalog to something memorable, so you know for certain that is the catalog you want to use each time.

Optional Cleanup. After I imported images from both catalogs (Mac desktop and PC desktop), I had a lot of housekeeping (file management) to tackle.  I had to move folders from one drive to another, as well as find and eliminate duplicate photos.  Just make sure that you do all of this while you are INSIDE Lightroom.

Do you have any questions or comments about How to Merge a Lightroom Catalog?  Just leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you.  And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!

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