In the last post, we finished gathering information about the catalogs and created a plan of action. With all of the information to hand, you’re ready to start merging catalogs.
- Open Lightroom and go to File menu > New Catalog. This will become your new Master catalog, so give it a sensible name and choose the location carefully. Where you choose to store it is up to you, but choose a fast hard drive where possible, and make a note of the location.
- Go to File menu > Import from Another Catalog and navigate to the oldest of the catalogs you’re going to merge. We’ll leave the catalogs with the most recent edits until last. (Note that we’re importing the metadata from existing catalogs rather than importing the photos using the standard Import dialog. There’s a big difference!)
In the Import from Catalog dialog, set the following:
- Check the All Folders checkbox in the Catalog Contents section.
- In New Photos > File Handling, set the pop-up to Add new photos to catalog without moving (if it’s available).
- In the Changed Existing Photos section, set the Replace pop-up to Metadata and develop settings only (if available).
- If some of photos are duplicated in more than one catalog, and you decided you want to keep both versions of the settings, check Preserve old settings as a virtual copy. This creates virtual copies of each of the different sets of settings, so you can go back through later and decide which to keep. It means you don’t lose anything, but it also results in more cleanup work later.
- (For more information on the available options, see page 511 in my Lightroom CC/6 book.)
- Back up the new Master Catalog, so you have a backup of each “step” along the way. This way, if you make a mistake or end up with an unexpected merge result, you don’t have to start back at the beginning again.
- Repeat step 2 with each of the other catalogs until you’ve imported them all.
Once all of the photos are all in a single catalog, you can finish cleaning up – removing duplicates, merging different versions of photos, tidying up your folder structure, and more. We’ll start cleaning up in the next post.