October 1, 2007

Compress your Photoshop Elements Catalog

Photoshop Elements 5 introduced the embedded catalog where you can tag your photos based on pretty much anything – people, places, events, etc. I love the whole concept of being able to tag photos, and Adobe did it right in PE5. I’ve spent hours tagging the pictures we’ve taken, so the catalog is pretty valuable to me since it represents quite an investment of time. Since it’s something I wouldn’t want to lose, I include it in my off-site backups that I routinely run. One thing I noticed is that my catalog seemed very large. For around 6,000 photos, not all of them tagged yet, my catalog file was pushing over 90MB. That just felt… big! Turns out I was right. While trouble-shooting a problem with Photoshop Elements freezing in Vista, I discovered a little tip to shrink the catalog.

Before you launch Photoshop Elements in “View and Organize Photos” mode, press and hold the Control key. Then click the menu to launch the organizer view. You will see a prompt to compact and recover the catalog. Click OK.

PE5 Attempt Compression

You should see a progress bar, and then a confirmation that the process was completed.

PE5 Compression Successful

Once I did this on my 90MB catalog file, it shrunk down to 20MB! Excellent! Now the backup routine is a little more zippy.

4 Comments on “Compress your Photoshop Elements Catalog

Kyle Dyer
October 2, 2007 at 9:17 am

Thanks for the off site backup link. I’m going to dig into that tonight. Do you use duplicity on windows XP?

October 2, 2007 at 10:25 am

I think I’ve read about duplicity, but I haven’t used it.

To back stuff up to, I have installed the Windows rsync client called cwrsync. It’s worked great for me on both XP and Vista.

You can find the installer on SourceForge:

I then set up a bat file (based on the example included in the install) that will sync certain files and directories with my account. I also set up a trusted key on the server so I don’t need to log in when I run the .bat file. In theory, I could schedule a process to run the backup, but I still do it manually at the moment. I don’t want to risk overwriting a good image with a bad image.

Here are the instructions from to set up the client the way I have it:

Rsync is great because it will compare a file and send only the changed bits, not upload the whole file again. This saves time and bandwidth. For example, I have an encrypted TrueCrypt volume I sync, and instead of uploading the volume every time, rsync will only update the bits of the file that are different. Pretty nice.

Adam B
June 25, 2008 at 3:00 pm

Your post set me off in the right direction but I couldn’t make your “hold down control and click” technique work. Fortunately I found the same item listed in the Organizer menu under
File | Catalog … | Recover …

I didn’t need any recovery, but this process compresses the catalogue. I had initially been searching for something to fix a noticeable performance decrease after I had tagged several hundred of my 6,000 photos. This technique reduced the size of my catalog from 400MB to 20MB! The organizer now works smoothly again.

Now I’m investigating rsync and duplicity …

Thanks for your help!

Andrew B
August 19, 2008 at 5:29 am

Thanks for the tip on compressing. My 161MB file is now just 9MB!! Means I can store my photos on the network without crashing Photoshop.

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