But what if you only want to restore part of the backup catalog? Perhaps you accidentally synchronized Develop settings across a folder of photos, or you accidentally removed specific photos from your catalog. If you’ve worked on other photos since the backup was created, you probably won’t want to restore the entire backup catalog, as you’d lose the other work you’ve done. Instead, you can restore just the settings for specific photos.
- Find your most recent backup in your Backups folder. The backups are stored in dated subfolders, with the zip file named to match your catalog name, to make them easy to identify. (If you’re using Lightroom 5 or earlier, the catalog won’t be zipped.)
- Double-click on the zip file to decompress it. The *.lrcat file appears next to the zip file.
- Move the backup *.lrcat file to a temporary location, such as the Desktop. (If you’re using Lightroom 5 or earlier, copy rather than move.)
- Double-click on the *.lrcat file to open it into Lightroom.
- Find the photos you’d like to transfer to your normal working catalog. Double check that they’re not marked as missing, and if they are, fix the broken links. (If the backup catalog is quite old, you may have moved some of the files).
- Select the photos and go to File menu > Export as Catalog. Select a temporary location, such as the Desktop, and give the exported catalog a name such as “Transfer.lrcat”. Check Export selected photos only and leave the other checkboxes unchecked.
- Go to File menu > Open Recent and open your normal working catalog.
- Go to File menu > Import from Another Catalog and navigate to the Transfer.lrcat catalog file you created in step 6.
- At the top of the Import from Catalog dialog, check the All Folders checkbox.
- The availability of the other options in the dialog depends on your reason for restoring the data from the backup catalog. (For a deep dive into the Import from Catalog dialog, see the Multi-Computer chapter starting on page 481 in my Lightroom CC/6 book.)
These are the most likely options:
- If you’re restoring photos you accidentally removed from the catalog, select Add new photos to catalog without moving in the New Photos section.
- If you’re restoring metadata for photos that still exist in the catalog, select Metadata and develop settings only from the Replace pop-up in the Changed Existing Photos section. (To keep the current settings as a virtual copy, check the checkbox below too.)
- Press Import to transfer the metadata into your working catalog.
- Once you’ve confirmed that the settings have transferred, delete the backup and exported catalog from the Desktop.
Before we finish this topic, we should just mention one limitation. When importing from other catalogs, Lightroom imports all of the data about your chosen photo. For example, you can’t import just the Develop settings for a photo without also importing its keywords. There is, however, a workaround. If you check the Preserve old settings as a virtual copy checkbox, your current settings are retained as a virtual copy. You can then use John Beardsworth’s Syncomatic plug-in to sync specific metadata (e.g. keywords) from the virtual copies to the updated masters.