Lightroom Classic catalog best practices

Now that we know the ins and outs of the Lightroom Classic catalog I’m sure you want to know how best to use this system. Luckily for you, I’ve got a few suggestions.

The need for speed

Keep the catalog on your fastest drive available. That will usually be an internal drive. I’ve talked about the risks of keeping your catalog on an external drive in one of my videos. So don’t do that. But keep in mind that a catalog can get quite big because all of the previews and smart previews are stored in the same place.

Just remember that your image files don’t have to be on the same disk as the catalog. So you could keep your catalog on your speedy internal NVMe SSD while the image files are kept on an external USB drive. That’s how I do it.

One Lightroom Classic catalog only

Some recommend using multiple catalogs. I disagree with them and so does Adobe. Organise your photos using labels, different parent folders, collections, keywords or any of the possibilities Lightroom Classic offers. I haven’t heard any convincing argument for the use of multiple catalogs yet. Don’t do it.

Don’t touch the files

Once your photos are in the catalog never ever do anything with them in a browser. Lightroom Classic won’t get the memo and you’ll have to look up missing folders the next time you open it. If you need to rename a bunch of photos – do it in Lightroom using the batch renaming tool. If you want to move photos to a longer-term storage solution – do it in Lightroom using the library module.

Start with a plan

And finally learn how to organise your catalog before you start using Lightroom Classic. If you’re just starting you’ve made the right decision in watching this video, even if I say so myself. I started out by creating a folder for each day a photo was taken. It was only about a year later I realised that that created an unmanageable mess and spent about a week fixing all the wrongs.

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