More on Moving Photoshop Elements Catalogs

In my May 5th blog entry, I described one way to move your Photoshop Elements Catalog and photos to an external hard drive. In this entry, I’ll cover a related situation. Suppose you have an older version of Photoshop Elements on your Windows XP computer and you just bought a new computer running Vista. Only PSE 5 or PSE 6 will install and run properly under Vista, and for PSE 5 you will have to download a free patch from Adobe.

If you have PSE 3 or PSE 4, here is a way for you to copy your catalog and your images to your new Vista PC after you have installed PSE 6 on it.

The following are the general steps you can use to convert your Catalog from an earlier version of PSE to PSE 6 installed on a new and different computer.

In the older version of PSE, reconnect all missing files by clicking on File > Reconnect > All Missing Files.

  • If some files are missing and you do not know where they are, delete them from the Catalog. Do this only if there are a very few files.
  • If the list is extensive, the pictures are important, and/or you know where they have been moved to, it is far better to Reconnect them before doing the backup in the next step.
  • If there are unconnected/missing files the, converted catalog may have problems.

Do a full backup by clicking on File > Backup

  • It is best to backup up to an external hard drive or flash drive (if your catalog is not too large)
  • Backing up to CDs or DVDs can also be done.

After you have installed PSE 6 on your new computer and before you add any pictures to its catalog, click on File > Restore

  • Browse to where you put the full backup you made with the earlier version in the top part of the dialog box.
  • Click on New Location in the lower part of the dialog box.
  • Place a checkmark next to Restore Original Structure. See the figure below.



PSE 6 will first restore the backup folder to the structure that was compatible with the older version of PSE. It then converts the catalog to the new structure used by PSE 6. All of your images and tags will be converted and copied to your new PC. Depending upon what earlier version you are upgrading from, some of your creations may be lost. Later versions of PSE have made substantial changes to the various Creation formats.

It’s a good idea to quickly check to see that all of your pictures have been properly copied over along with your tag structure and picture assignments.

Until next time,


2 thoughts on “More on Moving Photoshop Elements Catalogs

  1. Don, do you have any experience with PSE7- have tried the backup method to move catalog from PSE5 on XP to PSE7 on Vista 64 ccatalog search info seems correct but no photos. Ive tried to repair, reconnect etc. the photos are there (windows will even display. but PSE& cant figure it out. and Adobe support is absolutley useless!


  2. Hi Richard,

    Yes I am using PSE 7 on Vista as well as XP, but my Vista is the 32-bit version. I don’t think that should make a difference, however.

    I presume from your comments that you have followed all of the steps in the original blog entry and things are still not working.

    What is the exact result or error message you get in PSE 7 after you have done the Restore?

    Did you also just simply try to convert your PSE 4 Catalog? What happened when you did that?

    Here is what happened when I converted from PSE 6 to PSE 7. Although, it is a general description, something in it may help you. Note, I am describing the catalog conversion approach here not the backup/restore approach. By the way in both approaches, the PSE older version catalog has to be converted to PSE 7 format.

    First, I madfe sure that my PSE 6 catalog was in good shape. I made sure all images were connected. Then I did the Repair command in PSE 6; no errors were found so I proceded. I exited PSE 6.

    Then I started PSE 7, navigated to the PSE 6 catalog and ran the Convert command. It failedabout 30% through the conversion process.

    I went back into PSE 6, and retraced my steps. All images properly connected etc. But this time when I ran the Repair command and it came back saying no errors found, I selected Repair Anyway.

    Then when I ran the Convert command in PSE 7, everything worked. all of the 20,000 pictures in the catalog were there as well as all of the tagging information.

    At this point, I suspect it was insisting that the Repair be done in PSE 6 was the difference. I don’t remember whether or not PSE 4 has a similar dialog for their repair command or not.

    Cleaning up your PSE 4 catalog is essential to getting a good backup that you would then use when you use the Restore command in PSE 7 also. If you use this approach, the Restore command of PSE 7 recognizes the backup file is from an earlier version and converts it.

    I hope this helps somewhat.

    Don S.


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