Before we learn how to delete a Lightroom catalog, let’s address one crucial question.

What is a catalog in Lightroom?

A Lightroom catalog is the location responsible for housing your Lightroom photos. It also stores image previews and other essential information. Your Lightroom catalog is usually on your hard drive. But you can choose to move this folder anywhere you like.

Occasionally, you will want to delete your Lightroom catalogue. Here is how to do that.

Open the Catalog Settings

To start, you need to access your Lightroom catalog setting. Click the “Edit” menu. In the dropdown, you will find an option for catalog settings. You may also find there is a keyboard shortcut for quick future access to these settings.

Click on the General Tab

Once you have opened catalog settings, you need to search for specific information. In the settings dialogue box, there will be multiple tabs. Click the one tagged “General.”

Click Show then Open the Folder

Once you have navigated to the “General” tab, click a button named “Show.” This will display information about the catalog Lightroom keeps on your computer. Included there will be a direct file location. Use that file location to open the Lightroom catalog folder.

Delete Lightroom-Specific Files

After following those steps, you should have access to your Lightroom catalog files. You can then proceed to delete the files you no longer wish to keep. As you delete these files, you will free up more storage space on your computer. But be careful as you do this. There are many files in the catalog. You want to ensure that you don’t accidentally delete the incorrect ones. 

Can You Delete Old Lightroom Catalogs?

Not all files in your Lightroom catalog are relevant. Depending on how long you have used Lightroom, these files may be quite old. Some are likely related to projects that have long since ended.

Over time, these old catalogs can build up. This takes up a large portion of your computer’s storage space, which could be put to better use. As you search through the catalog, you will need to use your judgment as to which files are worth keeping and which are simply holding space.

How Do I Delete a Lightroom Catalog Backup?

Many of the files in your Lightroom catalog will be backups. As you work in Lightroom, the program creates fall-back versions of the photos you edit. This is extremely useful when you accidentally lose a file. In that case, simply use the backup catalog to restore it.

While this is useful, it requires a lot of storage space. After all, you essentially have double the number of files that you are working with. After a while, it is good to delete these backups once they are no longer needed.

Your Lightroom catalog will have multiple folders. One of these will be where the backups reside. To delete backups, start by finding the backup folder.

Open the folder and begin deleting what you want. You can manually select the files you want to delete. As a good practice, don’t delete all of your backups.

Instead, delete the backups that are outdated. You may also find that many backups have become corrupted. There is no use in keeping these files either. Once deleted, your computer will have a far more efficient storage system.

Can I Delete Lightroom Catalog Previews?

Within the Lightroom catalog, you will find something called a .Ircat file. This is where Lightroom stores previews of your Lightroom photos.

Keep in mind that the files here are only previews of your photos. They are not the actual image files. That means that you can safely delete your catalog previews at no risk to the photos you are editing.

But deleting previews comes with a slight downside. Without previews, you cannot view your edits in the Lightroom library module. In response to you deleting previews, Lightroom will begin automatically recreating standard previous so that you can see the adjustments you make. Still, much like deleting backups, deleting previews is a great way to free up some storage space on your hard drive.