How to Move Lightroom to Another Computer


Do you need to move Lightroom to another computer? Don't panic. It can be done but needs to be done carefully. Otherwise, you risk losing items you'd really rather hang onto after building a library of invaluable photos, edits, etc.



1. Arrange Folders:

Before you do anything, make sure your folders are in ranking or hierarchical order. It's always best to maintain your folders this way, so if you haven't already maintained them this way, now is the time to do it - before you move Lightroom over to another computer. (If you already keep your folders in ranking order, then you can skip this step.)  Having them in ranking order allows you to link to the top folder and the rest will link themselves.  

Here's how to organize them into a hierarchy or ranking:

  • Select top level folder: Right-click on it and select ‘Show Parent Folder’ for  Lightroom to build the hierarchy and show from where the folder was picked. It also adds other ‘top level’ folders under the new parent folder - just as you can find them in your drive.

  • You might need to repeat #1: Sometimes to reach the highest ranking level, you may need to select ‘Show Parent Folder’ more than once. Check after each time you click on ‘Show Parent Folder’.  

  • If you clicked once too many times, no worries. Just right-click on the parent folder you'd like to remove and select 'Hide this Parent'. Voila! You're fine.

Note that if there are images inside the Parent Folder, Lightroom warns before you can remove it. If you remove the folder, you remove the images as well, but images within the sub-folders remain safe.

how to organize folders

2. Check Your Backup:

We suggest that you double check (at minimum) your backups. 

Check for the following items:

  1. Previews: If you're running low on backup space, we suggest not copying the previews. Once you move Lightroom over, it will generate new previews.

  2. Photos: All of your photos are linked to Lightroom rather than stored within it. As you know, you need to back up photos manually as Lightroom doesn't do it automatically. We suggest copying them in the same structure you have them on your drive to make it easier to link back once you've moved Lightroom.

  3. Presets: You don't want to lose any presets or templates. Start by locating them by going to Lightroom>Preference on a Mac or Edit >Preferences on a PC. Then, under the Presets tab, click on the 'Show Lightroom Presets' folder button. There you'll find all of your presets, and you'll need to move all that to the new computer. 

  4. Plug-ins: you can move any plug-ins to avoid having to re-download them later. Start by making back-ups for these as well by going to the File menu and clicking on the Plug-in Manager. Select the Plug-in you've downloaded then click on the Show in Folder. You can then back up the folder being careful to make a note of the registration code or the serial number.

  5. Catalog: Find your catalog in the Edit menu and then the Catalog Settings. Click the Show button to open the location within Explorer. All of your catalog files are there, indicated with a .lrcat extension.  Note that everything you've created or done in Lightroom are contained within those files with that extension! 

  6. Catalog Backups: Lightroom automatically asks to backup your catalog each week. It then stores them in your Backups folder found in the same location as the catalog file.

  7. Shared Camera Settings

  8. Preferences: Lightroom creates them (again) once you move everything over to the new computer. However, we suggest you move them over as well because it saves time.  If you need to find your Preferences, here's how: 
    > Mac: Macintosh HD / Users /[your username]/ Library / Preferences / com.adobe. [your Lightroom version].plist OR
    > Windows: C:\Users\[your username]\ AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Preferences\ [your Lightroom version] Preferences.agprefs

  9. Camera Raw Settings: If you have any custom camera settings, custom point curves, etc, they’re in a separate location so they can be shared with Camera Raw.

    Here's how you can find them:
    Windows: C:\Users\[your username]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\CameraRaw\  OR
    Mac: Macintosh HD/Users/[your username]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/ 

  10. Once moved to a new computer, you can put them where you had them.  

backup your lightroom settings


Once you have carefully backed up everything, you can move Lightroom to a new computer.  

1. Transfer Files:

Once you've installed Lightroom on your new computer, you will want to copy your folders onto the new computer. We suggest putting them where you had them on your previous computer - at least initially to make finding them easier. Keep in mind that if you want to put them to their default locations, you will need to copy these files to the following locations:


Windows: C: Users\[your username]\My Pictures\Lightroom\ Lightroom Catalog.lrcat
Mac: Macintosh HD/Users/ [your username]/Pictures/Lightroom/Lightroom Catalog.lrcat

Presets & Templates:

Windows: C:\Users\[your username]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom
Mac: Macintosh HD/ Users/[your username]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom

Shared Camera Raw Settings:

Windows: C:\Users\[your username]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\CameraRaw\
Mac: Macintosh HD/Users/[your username]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/


Preferences are hidden by default and are not cross-platform. You can open the hidden files on Windows with the Run command in the Start menu. Type %appdata%\Adobe\Lightroom in the search box and the Lightroom folder location will open up. On a Mac, go to Finder, select the Go menu, and hold down the Opt key. The Library will appear in the menu (In MAC, Library is hidden by default).

Now you can go to the Preferences folder:

Windows: C:\Users\[your username]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Preferences\Lightroom Classic CC 7 Preferences.agprefs

Mac: Macintosh HD/Users/[your username]/Library/Preferences/ com.adobe.LightroomClassicCC7.plist

install lightroom on the new computer

2. Linking After Moving:

Once you've moved everything over, you can start linking files. Here's how you do these next steps:

Selecting Catalog: Launch Lightroom. Press the Ctrl key to open up the Select Catalog dialog box. Select the catalog you’ll be using. If you don't see your catalog on the list, click the Choose a Different Catalog and navigate to your catalog file.

Link Missing Files: If you see question marks (for files) or exclamation marks (for photos), you will need to relink those files. To do this, you will right-click on a Parent Folder at the top. If you navigate to where you've placed the folder on the new computer, you'll see that Lightroom automatically links the folders. (Yay, Lightroom!) If you can back up your photos to a separate drive, that's usually a good idea to ensure their integrity.

Presets, Templates & Plug-ins: Last but not least, check to be certain you can find all of your presets and templates and you can use them. If you can't find them, you may have copied them into the wrong folder. Just follow the instructions above to re-paste your files. To load plug-ins, go to File and select the Plug-in Manager. All active plug-ins have green next to them. If a plug-in has grey or red beside it, then something's not right. You'll need to copy them again at their new location.

Linking After Moving your lightroom


If you've read through this far, then you realize that moving Lightroom over isn't a click one, two, three, and you're done. It takes a little bit of time and a lot of attention to get things right. The most critical advice we can offer is simply to ensure you've got everything backed up before you begin.