How to Rename the Adobe Lightroom Catalog

Renaming your lightroom classic CC catalogue

Renaming Your Lightroom Classic Catalog

While renaming your Adobe Lightroom Classic CC catalog won’t be a very frequent task, it’s still a pivotal aspect of data management and your workflow as a photographer.

0. Never Rename Your Catalog Files While Lightroom is Open!

You can’t be too cautious when you’re putting all of your Lightroom edits on the line! It will confuse Adobe to rename your catalog files while Lightroom is running. This will interrupt your live editing session and break pre existing file pathways. It’s possible that this will cause loss of editing data and inconsistencies in your catalog file upon recovery.

1. Locating Your Lightroom Catalog Location in Lightroom Classic CC

Before you can rename your Lightroom Catalog, first you must locate the file. Lightroom defaults the catalog location to your Pictures folder. If your Lightroom catalog is not there, you can open Lightroom and locate your catalog by doing the following:

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC Catalog Settings

  • On a Mac: Click ‘Lightroom’ at the Top Left Corner > Select ‘Catalog Settings’ > Select ‘General Tab’ > View catalog location in ‘Location’ section.
  • On a PC: Click ‘Edit‘ > ‘Catalog Settings

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC Catalog File Location

Clicking the ‘Show‘ button will reveal the full file pathway. In this case, my Lightroom Catalog was not stored in its default location. **DO NOT CHANGE the Catalog name in this view.**

2. Quit Lightroom Classic CC

Once you’ve located your Lightroom Catalog Files, whether you used Lightroom or found your catalog in the default location, you need to exit out of Lightroom Classic CC. Remember, do NOT rename your Lightroom Catalog files while Lightroom is open.

3. Renaming All 3 Files of Your Lightroom Catalog Set

Once Lightroom is closed and you have located your catalog files, you can now rename them. Here are the 3 generic files that will need to be renamed; my Lightroom catalog files are named ‘Master Catalogue 2,’ though yours will very likely be different:

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC Catalog Files Previews Smart Previews

  • Lightroom Catalog.lrcat
    • Main Lightroom Catalog where your data is stored.
  • Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata
    • Image Previews are stored in this file.
  • Lightroom Catalog Smart Previews.lrdata
    • You may not have a smart previews file. In this case, it means that you never enabled the generation of smart previews for your catalog. This is not a problem!

Begin by right-clicking the Lightroom Catalog file, and selecting ‘Rename’. You can rename your catalog files to whatever you want! Though you must retain the naming convention suffix for the Previews and Smart Previews.

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC Catalog Files Previews Smart Previews - Highlighted

In this example, you can rename ‘Master Catalogue-2.lrcat‘ to ‘AnyName.lrcat‘. The text highlighted in green can change, while the file suffix text highlighted in yellow needs to stay consistent so Lightroom knows which file contains what information. Here are what the new names would look like in this example:

  • AnyName.lrcat
  • AnyName Previews.lrcat
  • AnyName Smart Previews.lrcat

4. Mapping Lightroom Classic CC to Your Newly Renamed Files

Now that your Lightroom Catalog files are renamed, you will need to remap the primary Lightroom Catalog file to Lightroom.

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC Catalog Choose New Catalog - Highlight

  • The next time you open Adobe Lightroom Classic CC a pop up prompt will appear saying that your catalog cannot be located. This is normal, Select the ‘Choose a Different Catalog‘ option.
  • Once the next window pops open, select ‘Choose a Different Catalog…‘ again on the new screen towards the bottom left. You will then be prompted to locate your newly renamed files in the system. Select ‘Choose‘ on your AnyName.lrcat file.

The remapping process should now be complete and your Lightroom Library should load as normal, with your new naming convention intact.

Other Helpful Lightroom Tutorials

Check out our other Adobe Lightroom CC tutorials for more tips and tricks!


Author Mike Lindle (@MikeLindle) is a founder of Focal Collective. His goal is to teach our community members about workflow, editing, and professional techniques to deliver quality work and get the job done. He lives in Denver, CO but spends most of his working hours exploring California and beyond.