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If you work in Lightroom a lot at some stage you’ll want to know where your Lightroom files are stored. Lightroom has plenty of pointers to help you find its files but these aren’t always as obvious as they might be. In this post, I’ll tell you where to find things such as your catalog, backups and presets.
To find where your currently open Lightroom catalog is stored, in Windows click the Lightroom button in the top left corner of the screen or right click the title bar if the program is not set to full screen view and choose Show Catalog Location. Windows Explorer will open with the current catalog .lrcat file selected for you. On a Mac, Control + click the title bar.
You can also find the location of your currently open catalog by choosing Edit > Catalog Settings (Lightroom > Catalog Settings on the Mac). From the General tab click the Show button and you’ll be taken to the folder that contains your Lightroom catalog. In this case however you will be taken a step higher up the folder hierarchy than you would be if you had used the first technique.
To find where your Lightroom presets are stored, choose Edit > Preferences (Lightroom > Preferences on the Mac) and select the Presets tab. Click the Show Lightroom Presets Folder button to be taken to your Lightroom presets folder. This folder contains subfolders of presets for everything from Color Profiles through Develop Presets to Watermarks and Web Templates each of which is stored in a separate subfolder according to its type.
You can also right click a preset and choose Show in Explorer (Show in Finder on the Mac) to see that preset on disk. This is useful for example when you’ve created your own preset and want to share it with others. You simply need to give them the .lrtemplate file for that particular preset.
Identity Plates are treated differently to presets and they are stored in the actual Lightroom catalog file. This means that unlike presets, identity plates you create aren’t available to every catalog if you have multiple catalogs. Presets, on the other hand, if they’re stored outside the catalog (the default setting) will be available regardless of which Lightroom catalog you are using.
Unless you have skills at editing database files – which is more complex a process than most of us really want to do – you’ll need to create separate identity plates for every catalog that you use.
Lightroom is a catalog program and it references where your images are stored on disk – it doesn’t actually store your images.
The images that you have imported into Lightroom are located where you asked for them to be placed when you imported them into Lightroom. If you have chosen Copy as DNG, Copy or Move when importing images into Lightroom then those images will be stored on your disk in the folder that you asked for them to be placed in. If you selected Add, then the images do not change location and are added to the Lightroom catalog in the folder in which they are currently stored.
You can see where any image is stored on your disk by right clicking that image (or choose Photo on the menu bar) and then Show in Explorer (Show in Finder on the Mac).
You can also see where any image in a Collection exists inside your Lightroom folder structure by right clicking on that image and choose Go to Folder in Library. This not only shows you the folder that the file is stored in but also switches to Library view.
When you backup your Lightroom Catalog, the actual catalog is backed up but not the previews or your photos. By default the backup of your catalog will be stored in the same location as your Lightroom catalog in a folder called Backups. You can check this location when next prompted to backup your catalog by clicking the Show button in the Back Up Catalog dialog.