Multiple Computer Lightroom Workflow Using Catalog Export

Spring is here! Unless you live in Colorado or North Dakota where it’s still snowing, it’s time to be outside!

After breaking my hibernation, I noticed a flaw with my Lightroom mobile and Smart Preview workflows, and that is that the starting point for both is still on my desktop computer. But my desktop computer is inside our apartment, and I want to be outside in the park, doing artsy stuff next to the other creatives, and the jugglers, and the one guy who yells at everyone.

Since I’m out with my camera and my laptop, there’s no need for me to trek all the way home to import my images, generate smart previews, then go all the way back to the park to get yelled at and process my images. So in this post, I will share my workflow for processing images that starts on my laptop instead of my primary desktop.


To start, I use a different catalog than my normal “working catalog” that I mentioned in my Smart Preview workflow. It’s partly for keeping things separated and to keep things uncluttered and simple. But the catalog and my laptop install of Lightroom have the same plugins and presets installed so that my environments are otherwise identical.


Next, I’ll import the images in to my laptop catalog, just as I would on my desktop. I’ll add my metadata and keywords and any starter develop presets.

lightroom import

Lightroom Fanatic > Import Images To Laptop

One note about importing, if I import the images in to a subfolder, Lightroom will maintain that hierarchy when I export the catalog later on. For that reason, I typically import these projects in to the root folder of my catalog.


With my images inside of Lightroom, I’ll find my picks. add more keywords, delete the stinkers, and process the individual images. Having full access to the Lightroom tools is one reason that I still use my laptop instead of using the subset of features inside of Lightroom mobile on my iPad.

lightroom fanatic workflow

Lightroom Fanatic > Processed Images Ready For Export


Now that my images are processed, it’s time to get them in to my main catalog on my desktop. To do that, I’m going to export these images as a catalog. To start, I’m going to Control+Click on my folder and select Export this Folder as a Catalog…

lightroom workflow export catalog

Lightroom Fanatic > Export This Folder As A Catalog

The next screen is the Export as Catalog dialog where I can give the catalog a name and specify a few options. The big one to pay attention to is the Export negative files option. With that checked, Lightroom will export the catalog and all my edits as well as the raw images I imported from my camera. That means I don’t need to re-import the raw files from my memory card on the other computer…they’ll come along with the catalog.

lightroom workflow export as catalog

Lightroom Fanatic > Export as Catalog

To make my life easier, I export the catalog to DropBox. By doing so, DropBox does the heavy lifting of putting the catalog and files in a location that is accessible to my desktop. Since I’ll delete this temporary catalog at the end of the process anyway, it’s just temporary storage.

Once the catalog is exported, I can see it and the raw files by navigating to them in Finder.

lightroom export catalog workflow

Lightroom Fanatic > Exported Catalog And Raw Files


With my exported catalog and raw images in the cloud, it’s time to leave the park before it gets too dark and head home. Having avoided another day of mugging in the big city, I’ll pour myself a glass of wine (critical to my workflow) and fire up Lightroom on the desktop.

The next step is to import the catalog, so I navigate to Import from Another Catalog…

lightroom workfklow import from another catalog

Lightroom Fanatic > Import From Another Catalog

Since my exported catalog is already synchronized with DropBox, I simply find the catalog file and select it.

lightroom workflow catalog to import

Lightroom Fanatic > Select Catalog To Import

The Import from Catalog dialog will appear and I’ll specify that I want to copy the new photos to a new location and import them. I also specify where I want the images to live in my main catalog. For me, that’s in my Pictures/Originals/2015 folder, and it will create a subfolder inside there with the name of the catalog and folder that I exported. In this case, “TeeBall Practice”.

lightroom import from catalog dialog

Lightroom Fanatic > Import From Catalog Dialog


Once I click on Import, Lightroom will import the raw images and put them in the designated folder on my desktop and add them to the catalog, along with all the edits and keywords that I did on my laptop.

lightroom fanatic imported images

Lightroom Fanatic > Images Imported From Laptop

Now that the images are safely on my desktop and in the catalog, I can delete the temporary catalog and files from DropBox and, if I want to, from my laptop.

That’s it! It’s pretty straight forward, and it gives me the flexibility to start my workflow from my laptop and bring that work in to my primary catalog when I return home. So whether you’re hanging out in the park with the guy who yells at everyone or traveling, I hope you find this tutorial useful to keep you as inspired and productive as possible when you’re away from home base!


New Camera? Update The Camera Profiles In Your Lightroom Presets

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I recently picked up another camera, the Fujifilm X100T.  The X100T is my first new camera in years. It’s been so long since I’ve used a different camera in Lightroom, in fact, that I had forgotten that my standard develop preset included a camera profile for my other camera.

Lightroom uses camera profiles the extrapolate color information when it processes raw files. By default, Lightroom applies an Adobe Standard profile, but you can select a different profile for your camera by navigating to the Develop module and finding the Camera Calibration tab.

adobe lightroom camera calibration

Lightroom Fanatic – Camera Calibration

In my case, since my preset included a profile specific to a different camera, when I applied the preset to the images from my X100T, Lightroom defaulted to the Adobe Standard profile. In my experience, though, the standard profile is usually not the best profile for getting the best color out of a raw file, so I will usually select a the camera standard profile and include that in my starter preset.

adobe lightroom camera calibration

Lightroom Fanatic – Camera Specific Profiles

As an added benefit, for most cameras, the camera-specific profiles also include the color presets that are available on the camera itself. So if you like the Classic Chrome filter on the X100T, you can apply it as a camera profile inside Lightroom.

philadelphia reading terminal market classic chrome

Lightroom Fanatic – Fuji Classic Chrome

If you include camera profiles in your presets and you want to apply similar settings to the images from your new camera, you can easily create a new preset for the new camera. Apply your existing preset to an image, change the camera profile for the new camera, then save the settings as a new preset. You can create a folder for each camera, or you can add a camera identifier to the preset name.

Happy shooting with that new camera!

Big Lightroom Catalog? Make Sure Backblaze Is Backing It Up!

As Lightroom has continued to mature, it’s now possible to have very large catalogs without sacrificing stability. As you add more images, though, the file size of the catalog grows exponentially since Lightroom stores not only the edits made to each image but the history and metadata, as well. I’ve talked to some photographers that are using catalogs that are more than 4 GB big.

As your catalog starts to run in to the multiple-GB zone, you should make sure that its size is not causing it to be passed over by your backup solution. I use Backblaze, and one of the options it uses to help streamline the backup process is to ignore very large files. At some point, the default setting might cause Backblaze to start ignoring your Lightroom catalog.

To check this setting, open your Backblaze settings and navigate to the Exclusions tab. At the bottom is an option that specifies the maximum size of files that will be backed up. The default is 4000 MB, which is 4 GB. For some of my photographer friends, this default setting meant that their livelihood might have been at risk.

lightroom backblaze exclusion catalog

Lightroom Fanatic > Backblaze Backup Exclusions

To change the limit, simply select a larger value from the drop down, which steps up to 9GB, 25GB, and the ultimate, “No Limit”. Remember, though, that this is a global setting, so if you have large video files or other data that was previously excluded by the size limit, it will also now get picked up by Backblaze which might slow down your backup. If so, you can always add the file type to the exclusion list to prevent them from being backed up.

Bonus Tip – Verify Your Backup

If you want to verify that your catalog is being backed up, you can log in to the Backblaze website and look at your files. Navigate to View / Restore Files and then find your Lightroom catalog file. Check the size and modified attributes to make sure that your backup is current.

lightroom backblaze catalog file list

Lightroom Fanatic > Backblaze Backup File List

You can also select the file and download a copy of it as a zip file to test it out and make sure that the Backblaze copy isn’t corrupt in the event of a data disaster.

I use Backblaze to keep my computer and attached storage automatically backed up. It’s nonintrusive, fast, secure, and starting at only $5/month, it’s a no-brainer. Rest easy knowing that your files are backed up by signing up for BlackBlaze today.

Get BackBlaze Today!

Excluding Lightroom Previews and Smart Previews From Your Backblaze Backup

Turns out, this post appears unnecessary. Since the preview files can be regenerated, Backblaze saves bandwidth and doesn’t bother backing them up. See: Does Backblaze backup my .lrdata files in Lightroom?


I was asked an question by Matt on Twitter about backing up my Lightroom Smart Previews with Backblaze. Matt tweeted:

Nice mobile wkflw. How do you exclude Smart Previews from backing up to Backblaze? Aren’t’ SP baked into respective catalogs?

Where I think Matt was going with his question was that the Smart Preview file can get pretty big and, especially with the initial backup, can slow down the entire backup process. Excluding the Smart Preview file from the backup could help get that initial backup done and make subsequent backups more streamlined, especially since those files can change often.

Personally, I include the Smart Preview and Preview files in my Backblaze backup because I have unlimited storage and a fast internet connection. But the data in both of these files is very transitory. The most important files to back up are the ones that can’t be recreated and, for Lightroom, that’s your catalog file along with your original image files. The other files, including the Preview and Smart Preview file, can be recreated if you have a good catalog and the original images, so backing them up is not as critical as the catalog file. If you are working with a slower connection or do have storage constraints, excluding the preview files from your backup might be a good option.

Currently, Backblaze doesn’t provide a way to pick specific files to exclude from the backup, but you can exclude files of a certain type. Lightroom uses the .lrcat extension for the catalog, and a .lrdat extension for both the Preview and Smart Preview files, which means you simply need to add “lrdat” to the Blackblaze exclusion screen.

Open up your Backblaze preferences screen and navigate to the Exclusions tab. Find the file types box at the bottom of the dialog screen and add “,lrdat” to the list. Backblaze will no longer back up any files that end with .lrdat, which means both the Previews and Smart Previews, but it will still back up your catalog file, since that ends in .lrcat.

backblaze lightroom catalog smart preview exclusion lrcat lrdat

Lightroom Fanatic > Backblaze Exclusions

Thanks for the question, Matt. I hope thhis helps. Remember, if you have a question for me, reach out to me on Twitter at @lrfanatic!


I use Backblaze to keep my computer and attached storage automatically backed up. It’s nonintrusive, fast, secure, and starting at only $5/month, it’s a no-brainer. Rest easy knowing that your files are backed up by signing up for BlackBlaze today.

Get BackBlaze Today!

How To Find Your TIFF (or PSD) Files In Your Lightroom Catalog

Sometimes when I’m sending files to Photomatix or to Photoshop from Lightroom, I create an intermediary TIFF file. That was especially true running an older version of Photoshop where I couldn’t send a raw or Photoshop file.

Normally, I’m very tidy and I clean up after myself, but occasionally files get stranded or are missed in the cleanup process, so I wanted to come up with a way to find those files in my catalog so that I could clean them up myself. Fortunately, the Lightroom Library Filter lets me do just that.

The Lightroom Library Filter

The Library Filter provides options to search for images using a lot of different criteria. In my case, I know that the files I want to find end with either TIF or TIFF, so I clicked on the Text filter, then change the Text dropdown to Filename.

The next dropdown tells Lightroom how to apply your search term to the filename. One of the options is Ends With, which sounds like it would do exactly what we wanted since our files end with TIF or TIFF. However, with Ends With, Lightroom won’t take multiple criteria and it won’t take a wildcard, so I couldn’t find both TIF and TIFF.

If I was looking for one specific file type, however, like all my Photoshop files, the Ends With works great.

adobe lightroom filter psd photoshop

Lightroom Fanatic – Photoshop File Finder

In order to find both my TIF and TIFF images in one filter, instead of using Ends With, I selected Contains. Now, the search criteria can contain both TIF and TIFF. However, it will look for those terms anywhere in the file name. So it would return a raw NEF file named “My-Aunt-Tif.nef”, which I don’t want. I still want to enforce the “ends with” logic but in the “contains” framework. That’s where the + modifier comes in. Sure, in every other search language, the + means “must include” but in the land of Lightroom, putting the + before a search term means it should begin with that term. Putting it at the end of a search term means it should end with that term. That means if I use “tif+ tiff+” as my search criteria for a Contains search, it will find files that end with TIF or end with TIFF, which is exactly what I want.

lightroom filter contains tiff tif

Lightroom Fanatic – Filter for TIF and TIFF

For giggles, I can also add a “psd+” to show all my TIF, TIFF, and Photoshop files.

adobe lightroom filter for tif tiff psd search

Lightroom Fanatic – Filter for TIF, TIFF, and PSD


That’s all there is to it! Happy filtering!

Bonus Tip

Because I’ve only shot Nikon and I only shoot raw, I wanted to see what other files were in my catalog. To do that, I created a negative filter using the Nikon NEF extension. Again choosing the filename option, I selected Ends with and entered “!NEF”. The exclamation mark is the “not” operator, so the filter looks for files that don’t end with NEF, which is every non-Nikon raw file.

adobe lightroom filter not nef raw

Lightroom Fanatic – “Not” NEF Filter