Working within any application, in my opinion it 's important to set up the preferences as a first step. This process of working through each of the choices helps you understand all the variables and alternatives you have from the start. In this chapter, I walk you through specifying and establishing the essential Lightroom preferences that will allow you to use Lightroom effectively and take advantage of what this program has to offer.
Follow the directions provided by Adobe for installing the Lightroom application on your computer. If you should have any questions, refer to the Read Me file that accompanies the Lightroom software. If the process is still unclear, contact Adobe Systems Inc. directly and have your software serial number available.
After installing Lightroom on your system and launching the application for the first time, you will see the opening dialog Select Catalog (FIGURE 4.1) for creating a default catalog on your computer. Normally the default location for this catalog will be Pictures on the Mac or My Pictures on the PC. You can at this point change the location to another folder if you want.
Figure 4.1 The Select Catalog dialog allows the user to identify a catalog location for Lightroom. In this case Users/Jerry/Lightroom/Lightroom 2 catalog.lrcat is the default selection.
Lightroom is flexible for a variety of different users and can adapt to different needs as time goes on. However, remember that Lightroom can only work with one catalog at a time and cannot at this point work in a networked environment. This means that you cannot have multiple computers or users working from or in the same catalog at the same time. Lightroom will only work with your computer's local and attached external storage hard drives.
After selecting a default catalog location, choose Lightroom Preferences from the appropriate menu: On the Macintosh, the preferences are located under the Lightroom menu, and on Windows they are found under the Edit menu. The Preferences dialog appears (FIGURE 4.2).
Figure 4.2 The General preference tab allows you a few options for setting Default Catalog, Completion Sounds and Prompts. The default settings for showing the splash screen during startup and the Automatically check for updates are fine with the exception of choosing the Prompt me when starting Lightroom.
Under the default catalog heading, choose "Prompt me when starting Lightroom" instead of setting Lightroom to the default option "Load most recent catalog." By making this choice, from now on each time Lightroom is launched, the Select Catalog dialog (FIGURE 4.1) will be displayed, prompting you to choose a catalog rather than automatically launching into the most recent catalog viewed. If you prefer to use the most recent catalog when launching the application, just hold down the Option (Mac) / Alt (Windows) key to bypass the Select Catalog prompt.
"Prompt me when starting Lightroom" is the preferred method of working with catalogs illustrated in this book. A Multiple Catalog Workflow (MCW) is a term I use to describe the creation of a new catalog for separate events, jobs, clients, or locations. You will have multiple smaller catalogs rather than one large catalog to manage (more on this later). If you elect to not change the default setting (that is, you keep the "Load most recent catalog" setting), you can always choose File > Open Catalog or File > Open Recent to open the desired catalog (FIGURE 4.3).
Figure 4.3 Opening a specific catalog (Open Catalog) or Opening a Recent Catalog can also be done from the Lightroom application File Menu.