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Learn how to use Lightroom with these tips on file management, preset application, and editing techniques for real estate photography.



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How to Delete a Lightroom Catalog and Start Over

Published: 30/04/2021

Most of the curating process in Lightroom involves getting rid of unnecessary files and folders. Even if your Catalog consists of images and previews that you no longer use, sometimes it is better to discard it and start afresh. We will walk through how to delete a Lightroom catalog and start over to facilitate a speedy and mess-free workflow.

How to Delete a Lightroom Catalog and Start Over

As a real estate photographer, you must have collected quite a large number of images over time in your Lightroom catalog. Many of these might be of no use anymore, as the properties might have got sold or some of them might have been renovated, which makes the older images unusable.

Also, lack of disk space or a corrupted, damaged catalog may be the reason you want to delete it. If you have a smaller disk size, it might not have the capacity to store a large catalog. A bloated catalog will only cause speed issues and errors in your workflow. Therefore, you may want to start all over again with a brand new catalog for future work. That way, you will recover valuable disk space besides an accelerated performance of Lightroom. 

Note: We recommend using a new catalog every year if you capture and edit thousands of images. Remember that as Lightroom is a non-destructive software, it doesn’t affect your original photos. Deleting the catalog only means that all the previews and edit settings that you make in Lightroom will get deleted. Follow the steps below to delete your old catalog and enjoy a revived workflow in Lightroom. 

Locating Your Catalog

The first thing you need to do is to navigate to the folder on your computer where your catalog is saved.

  1. Open Adobe Lightroom Classic CC.
  2. If you use Windows, go up to the Edit menu. Mac users will need to navigate to the Lightroom menu.
  3. From the drop-down, select Catalog Settings.
  4. From the dialog box, go to the General tab.
  5. Look for the location where the file path of your catalog will be shown. Click on the Show button. It will open the explorer/finder window showing your catalog folder and files.
  1. Besides your catalog, the backups folder and cache for Previews and Smart Previews are also stored on this location.
Locating your Catalog in Lightroom

Deleting Catalog Files

Once you locate the folder containing your catalog, you can get access to the catalog files. You can delete the unwanted ones, but make sure you quit Lightroom first as it won't allow you to mess with these files if it’s open. 

Deleting Catalog Backups

In the same folder that contains your catalog, you will find the backups folder. If your catalog is big in size, so will be your backups folder as Lightroom keeps backing up everything according to a set frequency. They are useful for times when you accidentally delete something from the catalog and want to restore it.

Deleting Catalog files in Lightroom

Over time, backups pile up, occupying the disk space. You can go on to delete the outdated backups as this will free up space on your disk, which could be used for other purposes.

Deciding Which Backups to Keep

Experts always recommend backing up everything in software to keep your data safe. Depending upon your choice, if any of these backups are actually useful, you may want to keep them. However, in most cases, getting rid of all backups is safe if you are deleting a catalog that is not used anymore. 

While manually scrolling through the backup files, you may come across backup files that are corrupted. As they are just lying there occupying valuable space without being of any use, you can trash them. 

Deleting Previews

As you are in the process of deleting the Lightroom Catalog, it is a good time to purge those previews which keep piling up on your disk. 

Deleting all the previews doesn't mean anything bad, it will just clean up the file containing previews and generate new ones when you will relaunch Lightroom. Delete the previews by deleting the Previews.lrdata files present in the catalog folder.

Deleting Smart Previews

Smart previews are much smaller in size than regular previews of an image. However, if you have a large number of RAW images in the catalog, the smart previews that Lightroom created will eventually take up a lot of space on your disk. Delete smart preview by deleting the related Smart Previews.lrdata files in the catalog folder.

Restart With a New Catalog

When you are done with the catalog deletion, start Lightroom once again. As the previous catalog is no longer available, it will ask you to start with a new catalog. A fresh new catalog will be opened.

As your computer has a far more efficient system due to the freed up space, you will notice a considerable improvement in Lightroom’s speed and performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens When You Delete Lightroom Catalog?

The catalog is Lightroom’s repository of all the adjustments that you make to a particular image after importing it into the software. It remembers the EXIF data, file location, rating, and the editing history of the image. 

The highly reviewed non-destructive nature of Lightroom is based on its catalog, which doesn’t make changes to the original image in any manner. Therefore, when you delete the catalog, the only thing you lose is the adjustments that you made to the photos after import.


Deleting your Lightroom catalog may be required due to several reasons. Either your catalog has become redundant, corrupted, or it is taking up a lot of space on your drive. Whatever the reason might be, you can get rid of it safely using the steps mentioned above and enjoy optimized workflow with your brand new catalog.