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Understanding catalogs

From: Getting Started with Photoshop Elements 10

Video: Understanding catalogs

Whether you realize it or not, when you installed Photoshop Elements 10 on your computer, a Catalog was created that will play an important role when you're working with files in the Elements Organizer. Let's take a look at exactly what the Catalog does. I'm beginning this video with the Elements 10 Organizer already open on my computer. And the Catalog is a file that essentially acts as a database, and it keeps track of a lot of the essential information that you add to your photo.

Understanding catalogs

Whether you realize it or not, when you installed Photoshop Elements 10 on your computer, a Catalog was created that will play an important role when you're working with files in the Elements Organizer. Let's take a look at exactly what the Catalog does. I'm beginning this video with the Elements 10 Organizer already open on my computer. And the Catalog is a file that essentially acts as a database, and it keeps track of a lot of the essential information that you add to your photo.

And it's actually automatically contained within your photos such as the location, format, any keywords that you add, the date, the camera, and much, much more. So, as you can see, the Catalog is quite important. Now, it's also important to understand that the Catalog doesn't actually contain the photos themselves. The photos always reside on your hard drive in the location that you've chosen. However, the Catalog is a separate file that keeps track of the location of those photos as well as that other important information that we discussed earlier. So, the first question you may have is where is my Catalog located. Well, fortunately Photoshop Elements 10 makes it easy to find that file. All we need to do is come up here to the Help menu and choose System Info. Now, I'm on a Mac computer, but it doesn't really matter what platform you're using.

Because if you come down here under the current Catalog section and you got to the Catalog location, it's going to tell you exactly where that Catalog lives. So, if I were to move over to my Finder, and just create a new Finder window. You'll see that I can navigate to that exact location. So, if I go to my User's Folder under Chad, and I go to Library > Application Support > Adobe > Elements Organizer, and then Catalogs, and then, of course, My Catalog.

This is the information that makes up my Catalog. So, that Catalog is quite important, and we want to make sure that we take care, that we always have it accessible. Especially in the event that we have a catastrophic failure on our computer. So, I'm going to go ahead and click OK. And the first thing I want to introduce you too, is the Catalog Manager. And that can be found by going to the File menu and choosing Catalog. And when you first open this dialog, you'll see that there are a number of different sections to this window, but currently I have a Catalog down here called My Catalog. That's the one that we just navigated to in our Finder or Windows Explorer. And this Catalog is accessible by the current user. Now, there's a lot of things I can do here.

You know, I can certainly rename the Catalog if really want to. And we have a couple of important buttons down here as you work with Photoshop Elements and in the organizer your Catalog can sometimes get very large in size. And every once in a while, it's good to come in here and click the Optimize button to optimize that Catalog. And I just did that and because my Catalog was newly created, there's really not much to do, but that did in fact optimized my Catalog. Now, occasionally, you may run into a problem where you maybe lost power at your house or something happened and your computer was shutdown abruptly. Your Catalog could occasionally get corrupted and generally Photoshop Elements will notify you of this.

And if it does you simply come in here to the Catalog Manager and you can click the Repair button. Now, as a general rule, most people use one main Catalog for all of their work. However, occasionally you may be in a certain circumstance where you want to divide your photos into multiple categories. And when I say multiple categories, I really mean like vastly different groups of photos that you want to keep separate. So, what I could actually do is click the New button to create a new Catalog. So, I'm going to give this a name here.

I'm going to call this V to B Catalog. And I'll go ahead and click OK. And you can see that now, there are essentially no photos in my Organizer, because I have a brand new Catalog and it's really not managing any photos at this point. Now, it's easy enough for me to switch back and forth. But when I have this Catalog active, any photos I import will be managed and tracked by this Catalog that is currently active. So, I'm going to go ahead and go to the File menu and chose Catalog to open the Catalog Manager one more time. And I'm going to click on My Catalog, and I want to make this Catalog active. So, I'm going to go ahead and double-click on that file, and you'll see that now it switches back to my original Catalog.

Now, what I also want to do is I want to back up this Catalog. Because again, if something happens on my computer, I want to make sure that I have that Catalog and any of the important information that I've added to it, easily accessible. So, to do that, we can come up here to the File menu. And I can choose Backup Catalog to Hard Drive. And I have two options here. I can do a full Backup or an Incremental Backup. And as its name implies, the Full Backup is going to back up the whole Catalog.

The Incremental Backup will backup only what has changed since your last backup. And you can't run an Incremental Backup until you've actually run the Full Backup. I'll actually show you. If I try to run an Incremental Backup, click Next. It says, you've chosen a performing Incremental Backup, but I can't proceed until a Full Backup has been performed. Because it's asking me for a previous backup which I don't have yet. So, I'm going to go ahead and click OK. And then, we'll click the Back button, and will choose Full Backup. Now, I'm going to click the Next button, and this is where I tell Photoshop Elements or the Catalog Backup where it should be stored.

And I can give it a name, and I can also give it a backup path. Now, you'll notice this is grayed out right now, and that's cuz I need to choose a volume here. So, I'm going to choose my Mac Pro Hard Drive. And then, I can browse for a location. Now, at this point I want to point out that we are backing this file up to our hard drive and that's good. It's good to have a backup of your Catalog, in case it gets corrupted or something happens to it. But in the event of a hard drive failure, if the backup of your Catalog is on that hard drive.

Well, you can figure out what's going to happen. So, although I'm not totally against backing up to your hard drive, I encourage you to use common sense and pay attention to where you're going to store this file. You could just as easily put it on an external hard drive, even a flash drive, or a jump drive. However, I want to show you something that I feel is pretty powerful, and that can really be integrated into this backup system. And that is a product called Dropbox, that is totally free. And basically, if you want to know more information about Dropbox you can simply go to dropbox.com. But you can see in the upper right hand corner of my screen, I've actually installed Dropbox on my computer.

And I'm just going to click on this and choose open Dropbox folder. And essentially, what this is doing is this is a folder on my computer that is also getting synced to the Internet, or the cloud. And basically anything I put in this Dropbox folder will automatically be copied to Dropbox's server for easy access in the future. So, this is just one solution that I think is a, a pretty good choice to ensure that you always have a backup copy of that Catalog no matter what.

And the nice thing about Dropbox is that if your hard drive fails, you simply re-install Dropbox, log into your free account, and the Catalog is going to be there waiting for you. So, to show you this, I'll just go to Mac Pro Hard Drive, click Browse. I'm going to go to my Home folder, into the Dropbox folder. And I'm just going to tell it to put it in a new folder called, PSE Backup. And I'll go ahead and click OK. And then, I'll go ahead and click the Save Backup button.

And in this case, cuz my Catalog is so small, it's only going to take a few seconds to perform. And once this is finished, I will have a complete working backup of my Catalog. There we go. So, I'll just click OK. And now, I'm back to my Catalog. Now, the nice thing is, if I do in fact have a hard drive failure and I re-install Photoshop, I can come up here to the File menu and choose Restore Catalog from Hard Drive. Navigate to the backup copy, and everything should be back where it belongs.

Now, one other thing to point out is that the other component that you need to keep in mind is that you also want to backup your photos. And there are a couple methods we can use to do that, but one of the most obvious is to simply copy the folder where all of your photos are stored. Whether it be to an external hard drive, to a DVD, whatever your method, but you want to make sure that not only you backup the Catalog and the photos as well. As you can see, the Catalog or Catalogs, depending on your configuration, plays an important role when working with files in the Elements Organizer.

Taking care of the Catalog is always available no matter what. Will pay big dividends if a problem ever occurs and you need that information stored in that Catalog.

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Getting Started with Photoshop Elements 10

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