Elements 14: How do I copy a catalog and photo files to new computer?

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How do I make a copy of my Photoshop Elements 14 Catalog and original photo files (I assume both must be copied) as they are situated on one computer and place them on a new computer (my wife's, so the username will be different) so that she can access them under a copy of the same Elements program (PSE 14)? I have just tagged around 67,000 photos on my desktop and would like her to be able to access them in PSE14 without losing any of the keyword tags. Both computers are running Windows 10. I have seen tutorials online which mention either copying or backing up/restoring from one machine to the other. However, the only mention is copying/restoring the catalog, with no mention of copying the actual photo files onto the second computer. I assume that you need both, since the catalog only contains thumbnails for the photos? In any event, what is the easiest way to duplicate the photos and catalog on the new computer while not losing any features such as keyword tags? Thanks.
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Jon

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Posted 2 years ago

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Jack Klaber

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1. Make sure your photos are located at the exact same location as on your old computer. If they were on your desktop then create an user with the same name and then copy all photos to the desktop of this user.
2. Alternative , copy the photos to your wife's desktop and then reconnect all images. PSE will hopefully find all your photos and reconnect them.
3. I assume you have installed PSE on your wife's computer so that there is a catalog folder. Copy and transfer your catalog (the folder with the name of your catalog) to the catalog folder on your wife's computer and you should be all set.
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Michel BRETECHER, Champion

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(To Jack: It's much simpler...)

Jon:
You are absolutely right, the usual and common solution is to use the backup and restore process:
https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop-elements/kb/backup-restore-move-catalog-photoshop.html
You are also right that the backup from the organizer backs up not only the catalog, but also all your picture files. The result of the backup is a folder containing renamed copies of everything plus the information about how to restore where you want: another computer, another drive or master folder.
The backup folder can't be used as such, it is an 'asset' for the restore function.
In your case, you create a backup (obvious safety for such a big move/copy). From the new computer, you restore to a new master folder of your choice on the destination drive (not to the root folder). Unless otherwise stated, your image folder tree is recreated exactly. If your original images were on several drives, each drive will be restored as a new subfolder under your new master folder for the library. The restore process insures that the links in the database are updated to the new location of the files. No need to 'reconnect', the process is much simpler than the Lightroom process.
What about the restored catalog folder?  It will be also restored on the new location (on 'custom' location when looking in the catalog manager). If you want to move it to default location under C:, then the catalog manager has a button to move to 'location accessible for all users'.

In your case, you may want to share (not only copy) the catalog and library. It's possible if you restore on an external drive which you plug in alternatively to each computer. The catalog and library are always up to date. You simply select the catalog on the external drive as the 'custom' location in the catalog manager.

Another note in a different situation: if the destination computer has a newer Elements version, the process is the same, but automatically the catalog format is updated after everything else is restored. That does not work for older versions...
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Jack Klaber

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To Michel; For the benefit of others, I can assure you I have transferred successfully PSE9 and PSE13 to other computers using the method I described above. I do not know if PSE needs also identical HDD IDs, but in my case it worked. Maybe the drive internal numbers were by chance the same.
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Jack Klaber

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To Michel; For the benefit of others, I can assure you I have transferred successfully PSE9 and PSE13 to other computers using the method I described above. I do not know if PSE needs also identical HDD IDs, but in my case it worked. Maybe the drive internal numbers were by chance the same.
In one instance I transferred the images to another computer on my network and used the network location (\\JACK\IMAGES) instead of copying locally the files from one HDD to another. In this case PSE could find the images after a Reconnect all missing files, but later on had problems with edited images as it did not see both paths as identical. It kept the network path after reconnecting together with the drive location and thus 2 thumbnails were stored for the same image. I can't remember how the problem looked in detail, but I do remember that in following transfers I took care not to use the network location.
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Michel BRETECHER, Champion

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Jack,
The general advice to use the backup/restore method is also based on the fact you don't need any reconnection step. I can tell you that this method has been used successfully hundred of thousands times... I am using it myself since PSE4, maybe a dozen times every year and as I do monitor the Elements user to user forum, there are quantities of posts about the migration process and its issues.
- If you master the reconnecting process (see my link above), you may not have had problems.
- If you used 'cloned' disks, they keep their internal serial numbers... and create problems if two drives have the same number in the database.
From the beginning, my source of information was John R Ellis (very active here in the Lightroom forum)

http://www.johnrellis.com/psedbtool/
and
http://www.johnrellis.com/psedbtool/photoshop-elements-faq.htm

It's also interesting to have a look at the catalog database 'catalog.pse14db' with an Sqlite browser. The interesting part is the 'volume_table'.


I also use other migrating processes depending on the situation.
- I do Sync my image library to an external drive via Microsoft Synctoy, with the same exact structure as your process. Much, much more efficient and fast than the incremental backup. When needing to plug in the external drive to another computer, I simply copy the catalog folder to the external drive and edit the 'volume_table' with the identification of the external drive. Just a couple of minutes. Not for Elements typical users.
- Instead of backing up, I can use the 'move' option of the left folders panel to move the whole image folder tree to the external drive - no reconnection needed, less risky than in Lightroom. A simple copy of the catalog and it works on the external drive for the other computer.

In the present case of Jon, I still don't see what has gone wrong especially since the description of the new folder tree in the D: drive does not make sense for me.

To Jack

If you have enough space on your D: drive, ignore the present state of your D: drive.
- Create a new D:\My Photos master folder from the Explorer.
- start again from your backup.
- In the restore dialog, assign a new name to the catalog and be sure to browse to the 'My Photos' master folder on D:

I believe it will work this time.
What will have to be done then is delete completely your 'New Folder' tree, but I would not do it without seeing the real folder tree (screenshot) to understand what went wrong.
Also interesting, when you try to reconnect an individual file, what is the expected location stored in the catalog? See the information panel on the right. Section 'General', field 'location'.
(Edited)
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Jack Klaber

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Michel, I agree with you fullheartedly. Backup/Restore is THE method to use.
But, there are experienced computer users who may benefit from my information that other methods (like the one I described above) can be used as well as a shortcut if a backup and restore is less usable in certain scenarios.
Only when doing wrong copies methods (like using network locations) reconnecting is necessary. Copying from external HDD to local HDD will make PSE find all its files without any hassle.
Until PSE6 one could use Microsoft's Access to enter the database and change the drive and path location in one big replace command. No reconnection step needed. It worked wonderfully, but I could not use this method anymore after PSE6. Or can you update my knowledge on this issue?
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Michel BRETECHER, Champion

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The change in PSE was not only the database engine, Access to Sqlite. I have no internal knowledge about the reasons to identify a 'volume' by both the letter and the internal drive. It's a safe guess to believe that at that time,  using external media like thumbnail sticks or external USB drives made the reconnection problematic since Windows could assign different letters. Not a big problem for advanced users, but probably for a lot of basic users.
As you can see, updating the sqlite database is my preferred solution, just like updating the Access database was for you.  Unfortunately, there are strict conditions for that to work:  same exact folder tree and no drive identification duplication. That explains problems with cloned drives. I can't see how that could be implemented in the organizer menus without a lot of tests such as those created by John R Ellis in his old psedbtool.
In my experience, the double identification with the serial number works if your external drive is plugged in even if assigned another letter.  I supect that may cause ulterior issues for backups, but I am not sure.
Another issue with catalogs which have been converted many times, migrating from computer to other computers or drives, is that the 'volume_table' stores any volume media identification (cards, sticks, CDs, USB drives...) even when they are no longer used and meaningful. That can be worse than in my screenshot!

An old interesting thread:
https://forums.adobe.com/thread/1052041

Note that my process does not require any sql query... if I am in the required conditions above.
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Jon

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So, I have uninstalled PSE14 from my wife's computer and also deleted the restored catalog. I will try this again.


I did want to mention that my catalog on the desktop computer is located here:


C:/ProgramData/Adobe/Elements Organizer/Catalogs


Please note that the words are actually backslashes, but my ohone keyboard doesn't give that option.


On the desktop computer, my photo files are located in my 'D' drive at:


D:/Pictures/

Do I backup and restore only the catalog file onto the new computer, or do I also have to copy all of the images on the desktop D drive and paste them onto the new computer? I dont see anything on the Adobe site saying that the files also have to be copy and pasted onto the new computer's D drive?
(Edited)