Catalogs are one of Adobe Lightroom’s best features. They make it easy to categorize, sort, and edit all your photos in one location. And if things start to get a little unwieldy, there’s a lot to be said for having more than one catalog.

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Lightroom really is one of the best apps out there for photographers, serving as a catalog system, a RAW editing app, and much more. There are two schools of thought when it comes to using Lightroom’s catalogs. The first is to throw all the images you ever take into one massive catalog. This can work, but when you start to get to the tens of thousands of images, things can get a little awkward. The second school of thought is that you create individual catalogs for different things. Maybe you have a catalog for each year, trip, or major project. How many catalogs you break everything down into is up to you, but here’s how to set up a new catalog.

When you first open Lightroom it automatically creates a catalog for you, so let’s look at how to create a new catalog if you’ve already got one. Open Lightroom and head to File > New Catalog.

You’ll be prompted to pick a name and location for your new catalog. When you’re ready, click Create.

Lightroom will close your current catalog and open the new one you’ve just created. Obviously, the new catalog won’t have any images yet.

If you dig into your filesystem, you’ll see Lightroom has created a new folder with all the associated files—like the catalog file and preview data file—that it needs.

You can only have one Lightroom catalog open at a time. To switch between catalogs, you’ve got two options.

If you’ve opened the catalog recently, go to File > Open Recent and you’ll see a list of recent you’ve opened. Select the one you want. The currently open catalog will close and your chosen one will open.

The second option comes into play if you haven’t opened the catalog you want to use recently. In Lightroom, go to File > Open Catalog.

Use your operating system’s file browser to navigate to the location of the catalog you want. Select the catalog file, and then click “Open.”

Again, the current catalog closes and so the one you choose can open.

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Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like The New York Times and on a variety of other websites, from Lifehacker to Popular Science and Medium's OneZero.
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