How to Transfer Lightroom to Another Computer

Written by steve heap
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How to Transfer Lightroom to Another Computer
Lightroom's database contain keywords and photo editing instructions. (archives_4 image by Ilya Malov from

Adobe Lightroom is a comprehensive library and file management system. Its database contains all the editing instructions and keywords for all your photos. It is important to move your files and the associated database to your new computer to avoid losing a lot of work and effort. The program license itself is not authenticated on Adobe's website, so installing a new copy on the replacement PC does not require any complex activation. Just remember to find the license number before you start.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Removable disc drive with space for your photograph library

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  1. 1

    Connect the removable drive to your old computer. Create a folder on the drive using Windows Explorer called "Photographs." Copy one photograph to the new folder using Windows Explorer.

  2. 2

    Open Lightroom on the old computer. Open the Library Module by pressing the "G" key. Click on the "Import" button in the lower left of the Library. In the Import panel, browse to the removable drive and click on the Photographs folder. The photograph you copied will be checked for import. Click "Import" to bring the new image into the Lightroom database.

  3. 3

    The Library module will now show the removable drive and Photographs folder in the "Folders" panel. Select each of the other file folders in Lightroom in turn, and drag the folder name across onto the Photographs folder. Lightroom will ask for confirmation of the move of the files to the new disc. Click "Move" to confirm. Lightroom will move all the files from your old disc and folder structure across to the removable drive and adjust the database to show the new location.

  4. 4

    Click "Edit > Catalog Settings" to find the location of your Lightroom catalogue file on the old PC. Close Lightroom when all files have been transferred to the removable disc. Open Windows Explorer and copy the Lightroom catalogue (a .lrcat file) to the removable drive.

  5. 5

    Install Lightroom on the new computer, and enter the license number when requested. Plug in the removable drive that now contains your photos and the Lightroom catalogue. Open Lightroom on the new computer, and click "File > Open Catalog." Browse for the removable drive, and select the ".lrcat" file you copied. It is possible that the removable drive has a different drive letter on the new computer. If this is the case, right click on the "Photographs" folder, select "Find Missing Folder" and browse to the same folder on the removable drive. Lightroom will now recognise all the remaining subfolders and images.

Tips and warnings

  • Backup your Lightroom catalogue before starting the migration. Use "Edit > Catalog Settings" and choose to back up the catalogue when Lightroom next exits.
  • Always keep a separate copy of all your photos in case you have a hard disc failure.
  • Keep your old computer and programs until you are sure that Lightroom has been properly installed on the new one.

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