In the last few posts, we’ve been merging multiple catalogs into a single new Master catalog. Once the photos are all in a single catalog, you can finish cleaning up.
Fix Missing Photos
If any photos are still marked as missing, now’s the time to track down the originals and relink them. It’s important to do this before importing any additional photos that are already stored on your hard drive. If you don’t, you’ll have trouble relinking them.
If you don’t have the originals anywhere on your hard drive or other backup drives, you may want to extract any Lightroom previews as JPEGs and then remove the missing photos from the catalog.
Add Other Photos
There may be some additional photos in your photo folders that aren’t currently in your catalog. These may be unedited photos that we removed in the Preparing Catalogs for a Clean Merge section above, or they may be photos that you’ve placed in the folders using other software. Either way, open the Import dialog, select your photos folder with its subfolders, and ensure that ADD is selected at the top of the Import dialog.
Clean Up Duplicates
If you’ve ended up with duplicate photos in your catalog – whether virtual copies or real files with different filenames or folder paths – then it’s time to clean them up. You could scroll through all of the photos, manually looking for duplicates, but there are a couple of plug-ins that can speed up the process. They don’t automatically delete the duplicates, but they identify suspected duplicates so you can make decisions. We’ll look at one of the plug-ins in more detail next week.
If there’s one “good” copy of the photo that contains all of the edits and metadata and belongs to all the right collections, then you can simply delete the duplicates. When merging multiple catalogs used over a long period of time however, the decision’s rarely quite so simple, so the following week, we’ll discuss how to copy and paste metadata and settings onto the version of the photo you’re going to keep.
Tidy Up the Folder Structure
Once your catalog is tidy, you also may want to tidy up the folder structure, so we’ll discuss how to do this over the following weeks. (How do I reorganize my Folders panel? and How do I rearrange existing photos into a new dated folder structure?)
Keep the individual catalogs at least until you’re sure that everything’s transferred correctly and you have a current backup. Once you’ve finally finished cleaning up, and you have a single master catalog, then you can safely delete the old catalogs and their previews files. Better still, delete the previews (*.lrdata), zip the catalogs (*.lrcat) and file them with your other catalog backups for a while.
If it all sounds too overwhelming, don’t worry. Many Lightroom teachers offer one-on-one support, and can help you figure it out. Just one word of warning… don’t ask your IT person to do it unless they’re going to follow these instructions to the letter, as this kind of cleanup requires an understanding of how the catalog relates to files on the hard drive.