Articles, Blog

Lightroom: Moving Photos to Another Hard Drive

November 1, 2019

welcome everybody I’m Laura Shoe in this short video i’m going to show you how to move photographs from one hard drive to another the classic
scenario that i get a question on probably once a week is when you’re
storing photographs on your internal hard drive but you’ve run out of space so you wanna
move photos from the internal drive to an external hard rock there different
ways to accomplish this task i’m gonna show you the way that i’d prefer which is entirely in labor now the first step is to get your external hard drive to
show up in the folders panel here like normally shows you hard drives that
you’ve actually imported photographs from now if you are already have photographs
on that external hard drive that you want to have been light brown and the easiest way toget your hard
drive to show up here in the folders panel is to import those photos first then
once you can see the external harddrive you’ll be able to meet these folders
down so in that case you would simply click
on the import button and in the source panel here on the left
side you would select the folder of photos
that you want a import on your external hard drive in the top center here if you would
choose ad that happened to the library catalogue without copying them or moving them from
that external hard drive the select the folder photos over here
on the external hard drive added to the catalogue and then go ahead please import but in my case i don’t have any photos
on my external hard drive my external hard drive is blank so i just want to show up here in light
brown so they can move these folders down so here’s the trick for getting it to show up what i wanted to is click on the plus
over to the right of the folders panel here and choose and folder and then out in this windows explorer
window or mac finder window i’m gonna sell act my external hard drive next i’m gonna click on new folder it’s gonna
be in a different place in the finder window but i’ll click on new folder and
i’ll call this pictures next on the go ahead and safe select
folders so i have this pictures folder select it now i can see that passport external
harddrive here in labor if i click on the sideways triangle on
the right here to expand that all sia pictures folder over here at this point only need to do if i wanna move all of the photographs
because they lived for me in this master photos go here folder i can simply click and drag this entire folder down and drop it right on top of pictures or
if instead you prefer to just put a subset of your photographs on the on the
external hard drive you can brag whatever subset of folders
you want down let me go ahead and collapse the years
here and let’s say that i just wanna play it two thousand five three two thousand ten
on the external harddrive in my trunk three and before i would have to click on each one of
these folders and drag them down and dropped them on pictures in light run
for i can select the first shaft click on the last two select all four
folders and then i can just click and drag from
inside one of them and all four will come down so when pictures becomes
highlighted here then i can let go now you may get a warning dialog mines
turned off but it will warn you that that you’re
moving photos on desk that you can’t undo that step that sounds more scary
then it really is what it means is that once you move folders as we’re doing you can’t go up
to added undo to undo a move however you can always
dragged the folders back so don’t be afraid to say new or okay if you get that warning dialog now in this sample catalog and we have five hundred thirty
one photograph so it’s not taking truong to actually
movies over and i’m not positive video as it completes but if you have tens of thousands of
photographs expect this process to take hours you’re moving dozens or hundreds
of gigabytes of information now that the movie is done i realize
that i’d didn’t quite mimic my folder structure on the external harddrive
correctly here i could have deleted the video that i
just recorded for you and done it again perfectly but i thought i would be useful for you
to see that you can always it bad subfolders here in my gram as well so really within pictures i want photos co here so i’m gonna right click on pictures
here and i’m going to choose create folder inside pictures and i call this photos go here and i’ll say create i don’t want include
selected photos that would just meanness highlighted photo gets moved into that
folder annoy him say create now i’ve got a first come here folder
and guess what now i’m going to click select these folders and i’m gonna drop them down into photos go here so im mimicking the same folder
structure it but i have on my internal hard drive wait a minute years of photos i’d just
like to have everything consistent now if in fact you’ve moved all of your
photos down here to the external hard drive so that for example you have a pictures
folder up here that has a rope photos in it and you can simply right click on that
folder and she’s remove so that i won’t show in leitrim anymore now finally let me point out that i’ve
just shown you how to move here photographs from one hard drive to
another your lightroom catalog by default is still in your pictures
folder on your internal hard drive think of the
public library analogy where we have stacks of books and we have the card catalog we’ve just
moved the stacks of books it takes a different process to move the card catalog over if that’s something you’d like to do i have a separate blog-post on this
process that I’lll provide a link for in the blog
post where a post this video i hope this has been useful thanks for


  • Reply FilmFactry May 5, 2012 at 5:58 am

    One thing not clear, LR is just copying the photos? The original folders/photos on the 1st drive are still there. Just not in the LR catalog. Or has LR deleted the original files? Like in Windows explorer, the difference between copy/paste files, or cut/paste files.

  • Reply Santiago Rojas October 10, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    THANK U!

  • Reply Shane Robinson November 2, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Thanks so much! New LR user (from Aperture) and wanted to begin moving images from my HD to my connected Drobo.

  • Reply gibsonkeevil123 January 12, 2013 at 3:23 am

    Thank you I found this very helpful!

  • Reply Nicholas Ditsas April 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Thank you so much!!

  • Reply Alejandro Cerdena Photography May 20, 2013 at 3:17 am

    Hi Laura
    One question so,it's clear to me. So I bought a new external harddrive one that has more capacity a 3TB because my previous one was running out of space.
    I moved all my photos to the new drive not through lightroom but by dragging them from one drive to another.
    How can I keep my catalog that I had on my original harddrive to the new hard drive?

  • Reply PhotoTech May 22, 2013 at 2:16 am

    Thank you so much! i have an SSD and i didnt want original picture files to be on it, because i also have a 1TB HDD in my laptop and i couldnt figure out how to copy the files to the 1Tb, but this helped very much, thank you!

  • Reply Mel Curry August 23, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    WOW! You make things so clear.

  • Reply Asanka Brendon Ratnayake November 26, 2013 at 7:12 am

    thanks well explained

  • Reply flkamm December 30, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Thanks. You have a very easy way in your lesson.

  • Reply Gaetane Ferland March 2, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Great simple video Laura , I loved it. Thanks.

  • Reply Coccinelle March 2, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Thanks for he great explanation!
    I tried to add an external hard drive by the two ways you mentioned, but the result is that my LR4 adds the HD as a sub-folder under the "volumes" section instead of adding it as a second drive
    can someone help?

  • Reply Travis Burton March 19, 2014 at 2:14 am

    Hello Laura, Informative video….its appreciated.  During the transfer process of moving the photos, I received the following error a few times, 'Could not complete the folder move. An unknown error occurred.'  Any suggestions or comments???

    I will be moving the catalog files, based on your instructions.  Thanks Again!

  • Reply cardiacade May 1, 2014 at 7:40 am

    Much appreciated, thanks.

  • Reply David Burns July 30, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Where is the link you said you'd leave, to complete the move? ie the catalogue

  • Reply Pacheconator122 August 11, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    This just saved me so much time! Thank you!

  • Reply Olav Sandvik February 15, 2015 at 12:50 am

    thanks alot 😀

  • Reply Hermes Matamoros March 11, 2015 at 4:42 am

    extremely useful, thank you so much!

  • Reply Anthony Haden Salerno March 14, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Tried this… and I'm still waiting 2 1/2 days later for my 7000+ photos to transfer.  Upon other research (since I've got the time) it turns out there are MUCH faster ways of moving folders.  This page has two faster means of moving folders OUTSIDE of LR and then redirecting LR to find these folders.  I wish I'd done a little more research before using this method.  Way too slow!!!  But thanks for sharing none the less.

  • Reply Nigel Howard September 16, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Could not be clearer. Many thanks.

  • Reply ozbod54 September 21, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Thanks very much, I have spent hours looking for this advice and you explained it so clearly.

  • Reply Margrét Leópoldsdóttir October 23, 2015 at 9:43 am

    this is by far the most clear youtube instructions on how to do this – thank you

  • Reply Rey Spadoni November 21, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    EXCELLENT. Thank you…

  • Reply Esther Irvine December 2, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Super helpful! Thank you!

  • Reply Lordfarmyard December 23, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Thank you Laura ,just back from off-the grid wilds with a full laptop and CF cards. You saved the day !

  • Reply Badger220455 March 2, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    Superb! Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks Laura.

  • Reply Errys July 7, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    Does the catalog still work when you transfer the photos? For example, will the catalog still be connected to the original photos as it was on the original hard drive?

  • Reply Bruce Dtv December 30, 2016 at 6:12 am

    excellent video, easy to follow

  • Reply Shannon Seymour March 10, 2017 at 6:26 am

    Is there anyway of importing images twice. My images were imported once onto an external hard drive which crashed . So, l used my memory card again to re-import, but lightroom doesn't allow me to import and I'm assuming it is because it thinks there is still a connection somewhere with my hard drive..? Is there anyway to re-import these images?

  • Reply Matthew Quinn March 27, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    Thanks Laura. My problem may be slightly different, but I am not sure. I have two ehds, each is a WD MyBook Thunderbolt Duo, 6TB, and both are mirrored. I use a mbp with a Dell external monitor. I have Lightroom cc. Disk 1got very full so I connected disk 2 and began importing to that; it went well. When I wanted to edit a photo on disk 1 and save it, I got a message that it could not be copied. A colleague told me I had not left enough room on disk 1 for it to operate; it was down to a few megabytes. So I began to move photos from 1 to 2, one at a time, then 20, then some more. Thinking it was moving along,, I tried to move all of my 2016 photos, 14000+ and left to go to bed. When I returned the next morning, only 3000 had been moved; the message was that the rest could not be moved. So I tried to move photos one at a time; I get a message that I can't copy to that location. I have made all permissions read and write. I have checked disk utility and all is well. I have rebooted several times. Nothing works. I have tried to edit a photo from 1but I am to able to save it. Any suggestions? Thanks. Matt

  • Reply Carmen Cochenour April 13, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Yay! Just want I needed. Thanks!

  • Reply nhulang Huynh April 17, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    Thanks Laura. Your instructions are very details. My situation is a little different. I bought lightroom 5 in 2015 and imported photo to internal hard drive. Then Last year I signed up creative cloud Lightroom and Photoshop. and I started to import all the photo to external hard drive. Now I want to move all my photo from internal hard drive to external hard drive. the Lightroomcc shows that the photo already import to the catalog and shaded out. Would you show me how move all my photo from internal hard drive to external hard drive where manage by Lightroom cc. Thank you very much

  • Reply Debi Moir July 6, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Thanks. Does this work in the current version? I have been struggling with this as I bought a new Imac with a smaller drive than the one I had in my MacBook pro. So many videos have more than one option – I just want the best! This seems to be it, so I avoid the dreaded "file not found" error message and have to go searching for, in my case, over 50K of photos.

  • Reply Chris Bishop March 2, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    Thanks so much for your help, i made a real mess of my catalogues but now everything is on a external drive and in order thank you

  • Reply FinancialCoach4U March 29, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    Really excellent and straighforward explanation = thank you!. Even though this is an older version of LR now, best explanation I've seen. And even the 'subfolder' explanation was very helpful – glad you didn't re-do the video! Your instincts are great – thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Dennis Humbla July 2, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    If I have folders on my external drive.. folders made by exporting folders from lightroom as catalog.. will It be heard to make those show up In lightroom again when adding foldera back In lightroom.. I noticed that one of the exported cataloges from my harddrive didn't export the edits I hade made to my RAW files.. they was restored as original RAW with no edits even though I hade exported them as a catalog within Lightroom what did I do wrong?

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