I'd like to move all my raw (.nef) files in my Lightroom catalog to another hard drive to free up space. However, I want to preserve the folder structure from the source drive to the other hard drive. Additionally, I'd like to preserve my non-destructive edits I made on those images and history.

Currently I have one catalog that spans two hard drives. I import photos on the main drive, work on them, and when I'm finished I'd like to easily move them to the second.

I can easily filter the ones I want, but I cannot seem to preserve the folder structure when moving between the two drives. I could do things folder by folder, but that will take too long. Finally, I can do a vanilla export and delete, but I will lose edits and I'm not sure I can preserve the folder structure I'm looking for.


1 Answer 1


UPDATE: I found a simpler solution here.

  1. In your Lightroom catalogue, in Folders, click the + and add a new folder on the new drive.
  2. Still in Lightroom, now drag folders from your existing hard drive and drop them on the new drive.

To copy your photos to another drive:

  1. Apply the filters that you want.
  2. Select all the filtered photos.
  3. Goto File->Export as Catalog.
  4. Keep "Export selected files only" and "Export negative files" checked.
  5. Specify a path in your other hard drive.
  6. Wait for it to make a copy of all your files.

To use these copied photos in Lightroom:

  1. Goto File->Open Catalog.
  2. Select the newly created catalog on your other drive.

This will meet the following of your requirements:

  • Preserve your folder structure.
  • Maintain your non-destructive edits and history.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Abhimanyu. Is there a way to keep everything in one catalog? When travelling, I like the fact I can preserve the rendered previews in the original catalog, even if I can't view the original. \$\endgroup\$
    – mhamrah
    Dec 3, 2011 at 19:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Please see the updated answer for a simpler solution that I found online. \$\endgroup\$
    – Abhi
    Dec 3, 2011 at 19:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the research; that method will only work if I want to move all the images in that folder to the new drive. In my case, I only want to move a subset. For each folder, there are about 10% of images I want to keep on the main drive; the rest I want to move onto a new drive. Like I said, I can do this one by one, but I have hundreds folders. I'd like to automate. Your original method works well, except I want everything in the same catalog. \$\endgroup\$
    – mhamrah
    Dec 3, 2011 at 20:00
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ That's easy. After exporting, goto "Import from Catalog", point it to your new catalog and select "Add New Photos To Catalog Without Moving". This will consolidate everything in a single catalog while moving some photos to an external drive. \$\endgroup\$
    – Abhi
    Dec 3, 2011 at 20:14

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