Renaming the Lightroom catalog isn't something you'll find yourself doing very often, but when you want to do it, it's good to know how. So, this will be a short and sweet tutorial, but the steps are important, so take your time if and when you ever rename your catalog.
Note: do NOT rename your catalog files while Lightroom is open. This is extremely important.
Below the steps and screen shots is a silent video tutorial showing the process.
Locate the Lightroom Catalog Files
The first thing you must do to rename your catalog is to actually locate it. Preferably you do this while Lightroom is closed. The best place to check is your Pictures folder, because that is where Lightroom creates a folder for the catalog by default.
If you don't find your Lightroom catalog in your Pictures folder, then open your Lightroom and follow these steps:
- On a Mac, click 'Lightroom' in the top-corner of the screen, then down to 'Catalog Settings.'
- On a PC you click on 'Edit', then down to 'Catalog Settings.'
Once the Catalog Settings menu opens, click on the 'General' tab, if it opens on one of the other tabs. Look at the 'Location' for the file path to your catalog files. If you don't see even there to know, then you can click on 'Show' and your computer's folders will open.
You are ONLY using this to help you know where to find your Lightroom catalog files. Do NOT change the names in this view because Lightroom is still open. You can keep your computer folder menu open, but close Lightroom before renaming.
If you had Lightroom open to find your catalog, then you need to close it. Do NOT rename the files while Lightroom is open.
Rename the Catalog Files
Once you have access to your files, AND you've closed your Lightroom program, you can rename the catalog and related files. This can be done by right-clicking on the file and choosing rename (there are other ways to rename, but this one is the easiest for others to replicate).
Files you need to rename:
- Lightroom Catalog.lrcat
- Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata
- Lightroom Catalog Smart Previews.lrdata (if you don't have a smart previews file, don't worry, that just means you have never made smart previews).
You can name the files whatever you like, however 'Previews' and 'Smart Previews' should be at the end of those files' names, and the names much match.
Locate the Renamed Catalog on Start-Up
When you start Lightroom again it is going to say it cannot locate the catalog. Don't be alarmed; this is normal. Follow these steps (and shown in screen shots below):
- Click on 'Choose a Different Catalog'
- Click on 'Choose a Different Catalog' on the next menu that pops up
- Navigate to your new catalog when a new Finder/Folders window opens up
- Click 'Choose' once you've found your renamed catalog