How to Rename a Lightroom Catalog

Whether you need to back up, move, or just change the name of a Lightroom catalog, here's a step-by-step guide.

As you’ve already noticed it if you’ve tried doing it, there’s no way within Lightroom to change the name of a catalog. It makes sense–Lightroom is designed to have a catalog open most of the time, and adding a “manage catalog” screen would just add another layer of complexity and potential confusion.

But sometimes you want to change the name. You might want to create a separate backup version, or if you name your catalogs by date, you might want to update it. But whatever the reason, here’s how you can do it.

  1. Find your Lightroom catalog files. There’s a built-in function to tell you where exactly where the files for the currently open catalog are located.

In Mac, go to Lightroom > Catalog Settings > General. The top item is the location of the catalog. You can hit the “Show” button to take you there in finder.

In Windows, go to Edit > Catalog Settings > General. Click “Show” to open in Explorer.

  1. Close the catalog in Lightroom either by opening a different catalog or quitting Lightroom. You don’t want to be messing with the catalog filenames with the catalog open.
  2. There are two files you need to rename. The main file–and the most important one–ends with “.lrcat”. The previews are in a separate file that ends with ” Previews.lrdata”. Just change both to the same name. But be sure with the lrdata file to add a space and then “Previews” before the file extension. So, for example, if my catalog name was “travel”, they would be:
travel.lrcat

and

travel Previews.lrdata

To change it to “newphotos” I would change them to:

newphotos.lrcat

and

newphotos Preview.lrdata
  1. To open the renamed catalog, you’re going to have to specify where it is in Lightroom. After all, as far as Lightroom is concerned, this is an entirely new catalog that you’ve never opened before, so it’s not going to show up under “recently opened” or automatically when you start Lightroom up. But it’s easy–just go to File > Open Catalog and then choose the .lrcat file you just renamed.
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