What’s A Lightroom Catalog And Why Do I Want One?

November 20, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Lightroom CatalogLightroom CatalogLightroom Catalog

Mac users know where their files are kept.  They are in Finder.  Windows users know where there files are as well.  They are in Explorer.  Where does Lightroom keep files?

Lightroom keeps them in Finder.  Or in Explorer.  Just where you left them.  And that’s where the idea of a ‘Catalog’ comes in.  What is a catalog?

Let’s read what Adobe has to say … “A catalog is a database that tracks the location of your photos and information about them. When you edit photos, rate them, add keywords to them, or do other things to photos in Lightroom, all those changes are stored in the catalog. The photo files themselves are not touched.”  There are a lot of key words in those three sentences that make catalogs a great idea (albeit one that takes a bit to get used to).

So, the catalog knows where my images are located.   Could be in a local folder.  Or a local drive.  Or a portable drive, like a WD My Passport.  Maybe even a networked drive, like a WD My Book

And a catalog knows about ALL of your edits to your images.  No matter big or small, global or local.  And you have access to all of it.  The history, step by step (click by click?)  of each edit you have ever made to an image, all while the original file sits wherever you left it, undisturbed.  Keywords?  Check.  Metadata?  Check.  A whole lot more, that we’ll touch on later, like how Smart Previews and Collections take advantage of a catalog?  Check?

The word is ‘nondestructive’.  Your original is always available, unedited.


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