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Creating and Using Multiple Catalogs in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4

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Scott Kelby shows you how to create a second catalog in Lightroom so you can keep your catalog sizes manageable and Lightroom running at full speed.
From the book Creating and Using Multiple Catalogs

Lightroom is designed for managing a library of literally tens of thousands of images—I know photographers that have well over 100,000 images in their catalog, and Lightroom can handle it, no sweat. However, once your catalog gets that large, Lightroom can start to take a performance hit, so you might want to think about creating a second catalog (you can create more than one catalog and switch between them any time you like), so you can keep your catalog sizes manageable and Lightroom running at full speed.

Step One:

So far, we’ve been working with a catalog of photos that was created for you when you launched Lightroom for the first time. However, if you wanted to, for example, create a separate catalog for managing all your travel photos, family photos, or sports photos, then you’d go under Lightroom’s File menu and choose New Catalog (as shown here). This brings up the Create Folder with New Catalog dialog. Give your catalog a simple name (like “Sports Catalog”) and pick a place to save it to (just to keep things straight, I save all of my catalogs in my Lightroom folder, so I always know where they are).


Step Two:

Once you click the Create button, Lightroom closes your database, then Lightroom itself quits and automatically relaunches with your brand new, totally empty catalog, with no photos in it whatsoever (as seen here). So, click on the Import button (near the bottom-left corner), and let’s bring in some sports photos to get the ball rolling.

Step Three:

You know what to do from here, as far as building a catalog of images (import more photos, add keywords, make your collections, etc., just like always). When you’re done working with this new Sports catalog, and you want to return to your original main catalog, just go under the File menu, under Open Recent, and choose Lightroom 4 Catalog (your original catalog, as shown here). Click Relaunch in the Open Catalog dialog and Lightroom will save your sports photos catalog, and once again, quit, and relaunch with your main catalog. I know it’s kinda weird that it has to quit and relaunch, but luckily it’s pretty darn quick about it.


Step Four:

You can actually choose which catalog you want to work with when you launch Lightroom. Just press-and-hold the Option (PC: Alt) key while you launch Lightroom, and it will bring up the Select Catalog dialog you see here, where you can choose which catalog you want it to open. Note: If you want to open a Lightroom catalog you created, but it doesn’t appear in the Select a Recent Catalog to Open section (maybe you didn’t save it in your Lightroom folder when you created it or you haven’t opened it recently), then you can click the Choose a Different Catalog button at the bottom left of the dialog and locate the catalog using a standard Open (PC: Browse) dialog. Also, I know I probably don’t have to say this, but if you want to create a brand new empty catalog, just click the Create a New Catalog button.

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