In the last post, we figured out which of your multiple catalogs you want to merge into your new Master Catalog. We want a smooth merge of catalogs. so there’s a little more to do to prepare. Then we’ll be ready to go ahead with the merge.
Stage 2 – Prepare Catalogs for a Clean Merge
Based on the information on your list of catalogs, you have a few more questions to ask yourself, which will determine your next steps. You might need to open some of the catalogs into Lightroom again to determine the answers.
- Is there any duplication? Do the same photos appear in multiple catalogs? Don’t worry about virtual copies – just masters.
- You don’t have to check every single photo, but it helps to get rough idea of whether there are hundreds of duplicates, or just a few.
- If there is duplication, do you know which catalogs are most recent – and therefore hopefully have the most recent information? Or do you want to keep both “versions” of the images, where they differ?
- For example, the Holiday 2018-08 folder appears in both the LR8 Catalog and the LR9 Catalog – but it looks like you’ve only edited them in the LR9 Catalog, so make a note that the LR9 Catalog is the more recent. But then you spot that you’d previously done star ratings in the Travel catalog that aren’t in the LR9 Catalog, so you might want to keep both versions of the images when merging the Travel catalog.
- Are any of the photos marked as missing, shown by a rectangular exclamation mark in the corner?
- Go to Library menu > Find All Missing Photos to check how many photos are missing.
- If some of the photos are missing, and you can quickly reconnect them, go ahead and do so.
- If loads of the photos are missing, you may want to reduce your workload by removing all of the unedited photos and just relink the ones that you’ve worked on. To do so:
- Create duplicates/backups of the catalogs.
- Create a smart collection to show the unedited files. It’ll look something like this:
- Select all of the photos in the smart collection.
- Go to Photo menu > Remove Photos from Catalog.
- Relink all of the leftover missing photos before moving on to the next catalog.
- Decide on merge order. If the same photos appear in both catalogs, and you’re choosing not to create virtual copies of both “versions”, then the last catalog merged will be the metadata you end up keeping. For example, if Holiday 2018-08 folder appears in both the LR8 Catalog and the LR9 Catalog – but it looks like you’ve only edited them in the LR9 Catalog, you’ll want to merge the LR9 Catalog after the Lr8 Catalog. It becomes a bit of a logic problem at this stage, so if in doubt, we’ll create virtual copies during the merge stage and clean up later.
By the time you finish stage 2, your notes should look something like this:
Some people like to move all of the to-be-merged catalogs into a single folder, to make them easier to track, but that’s up to you. As long as they’re all on your list, you’ll be fine.
In the next post, Merging Catalogs – Stage 3 – Using Import from Another Catalog to Merge, we’ll merge all of the individual catalogs into your new Master catalog.
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Originally posted 1 May 2017, updated for latest Lightroom versions March 2020.