By Gayle Vehar on | No Comments
Unless you plan to be a photographer for ONLY a couple of years, you will likely NEED TO MOVE LIGHTROOM TO A NEW COMPUTER at some point.
I have moved Lightroom to a new computer several times over the years. It can be a daunting process with the risk of losing information during the transfer.
However, this post will walk you through the simple steps required to SUCCESSFULLY MOVE LIGHTROOM TO A NEW COMPUTER.
I'm sure you are ready and excited to use your brand new computer, but the process of transferring Lightroom to your NEW COMPUTER actually begins on your OLD COMPUTER. So boot up your old computer, open Lightroom, and create a backup of your current Lightroom Catalog.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If your photos are not currently well organized, take the time to organize them right now. Make sure you do any organizing needed WITHIN Lightroom. This will save you time in the long run and make the process go much more smoothly.
To create a backup of your catalog, go to:
Under the General tab, ensure the bottom option is set to "When Lightroom Next Exits."
Then, close the Catalog Settings menu and quit Lightroom.
A Backup Catalog menu will open automatically, and you will see a "Back Up" button (see image below). Click this button to begin your catalog backup. Keep in mind, that this process can take a little while, depending on the size of your catalog.
In this next step, you will need to install Lightroom on your new computer. To do this, you will first download and install the Creative Cloud app.
Once the Creative Cloud app is installed, open it and log in to your Adobe account. In the app, you will find all the products available to install. Choose Lightroom and click the "Install" button to begin the installation process.
NOTE: Both Lightroom versions are currently installed on my computer, so they aren't listed here (see photo below), but with a new install, they will be for you!
Once Lightroom is installed on your new computer, you need to migrate all of your photos to the new computer. This process will go much more smoothly if you have already set up and consistently follow a good Lightroom workflow for backing up your photos,
Most photographers save their photos to an external hard drive. If this is the case for you, all you need to do is unplug your external drive from your old computer and plug it into your new computer.
If your photos are saved on the old computer's internal drive, you will need to copy them over to your new computer. Photos should be copied and placed in the same location as they were on your old computer using the EXACT same folder hierarchy you are currently using. Always copy the parent folder that holds all your photos.
Once again, if your photos are poorly organized, I strongly recommend ORGANIZING THEM BEFORE MOVING THEM TO THE NEW COMPUTER. MAKE SURE you do your organizing WITHIN LIGHTROOM. If you are doing this AFTER you have already backed up your catalog, go ahead and make a new backup once you are done.
After you finish migrating your photos, you will need to locate your Lightroom Catalog and move it to your new computer.
Locating your Lightroom catalog is pretty straightforward. Go to Edit>Catalog Settings (on a PC) or Lightroom>Catalog Settings (on a Mac).
A folder of files will open—double-click on the Lightroom folder to open it. Inside you will find your Lightroom Catalog file (which is a .lrcat file). This .lrcat file is the file you want to copy and transfer to your new computer.
There are many different ways to transfer this file to your new computer (via an external drive, cloud service, etc.); however, when choosing a permanent location for the file, I recommend choosing your fastest hard drive to keep Lightroom running as quickly as possible.
Once your catalog is saved on your new computer, you will want to OPEN IT in Lightroom. To do this, go to File>Open Catalog and navigate to the location you saved it to.
This next step is probably the most tedious part of the process, but it is also one of the final steps - like placing the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle.
When you opened the Lightroom catalog file in the previous step, you likely noticed that some or all of the folders in your catalog now have a "?" icon on them. This happens when the file structure on a new computer is different than an older computer, even slightly, which is very common.
If you have one parent folder and several folders inside that one folder, then you will likely only have to relink the parent folder, and the subfolders should then relink automatically.
However, if your Lightroom Catalog is more of a random jumble of folders, this process will probably take much longer because you will have to relink each one of those folders individually.
Tip: Here is a very helpful tutorial on reconnecting missing photos and file folders in Lightroom.
Don't forget about your presets! For the final step of this process, you will need to reinstall all your favorite Lightroom presets.
Every time I purchase presets or actions, I back them up in a Dropbox folder so I can easily access them anytime I need to reinstall them. This method has worked seamlessly for many years, and I highly recommend you do the same.
Lightroom has updated the way you install Lightroom presets. So if you haven't installed presets in a while, you can head over to this page that will help you get any old presets (.lrtemplate files) or new presets (.xmp files) installed quickly.
Here is one of MY FAVORITE PRESETS, "Oasis" from Pretty Preset's Warm and Organic Millennium Preset Collection, compatible with BOTH Lightroom Desktop and Mobile. Look at those warm and vibrant tones!
While there are only six steps in this process, be mindful that each of these steps will take some time to complete.
This isn't a quick job, but your patience will pay off with minimal (or zero) loss of files and data if you follow these steps and recommendations closely! You got this!
Have you Moved Lightroom to a New Computer? How did it go? 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)!
Hi!! I am Gayle. I am a wife to my handsome husband and mom to 4 beautiful kids. In my spare time, I am a photographer and blogger at Mom and Camera. I have a passion for sharing my love of photography with others. I teach local photography classes and regularly share photography tips and tricks on my blog. I hang out there a lot—I’d love you to stop by and visit!