Installing the latest Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic upgrade can be a challenging experience for many of our loyal subscribers. Fortunately, the entire Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic upgrade process should take you less than an hour as long as you are careful. In the video tutorial below I will walk you through each step of the upgrade process.
There are a couple of things that you must know before you being the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic upgrade process. First, you need to be sure that you are installing the right program. There are currently two very different programs that share the word “Lightroom.”
Within the Creative Cloud family, you can install either Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic or Adobe Lightroom. The names are important here. The program that was once called Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC, or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, for the past decade is now called Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic users are responsible for their own file storage and Catalog backup systems. There is also a separate program on the market now that is called Adobe Lightroom.
With Adobe Lightroom, all of your original files are uploaded and stored on Adobe Inc’s servers. Adobe Lightroom is much easier to learn since you are not responsible for your own file storage, or backup plans, with this software but this program does not offer all of the features of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic.
To be clear, this cloud-storage based program is not the same as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic and it is not the subject of the video tutorial above or the advice on how to upgrade Lightroom Classic below.
Step 1: Back Everything Up
Upgrading Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic should not harm your computer or your photographs. The odds that something will go tragically wrong are very slim but it is always wise to create a COMPLETE BACKUP of your entire photo library and your Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Catalog before undertaking any major software change.
Along with creating a robust reliable backup, I urge you to take this opportunity to save all of your metadata down to the file level too before upgrading. Although this step is not technically required it is strongly advised. If there is a disaster, and all of your data has been saved down to the file level xmp metadata block, then recovery is much easier.
Step 2: Update the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Application
The next step in the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic upgrade process begins in the Adobe Creative Cloud Installer App. Again, it is critical that you understand which type of “Lightroom” you are using. This article is for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic users and not for those using the cloud-based Adobe Lightroom alternative.
At this point, I also need to point out that your computer must be running an Operating System that can handle the latest version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic. I am not saying that you need to be on the latest version of the Mac, or Windows, Operating Systems but if your computer’s OS is too old then the most recent version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic will not be installable until you fix this problem.
Assuming that your computer’s Operating System is fairly current then you will should see the latest version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic listed as an update inside of your Creative Cloud App manager window.
Clicking on the Update button will begin the download and installation process.
Step 3: Upgrade your Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalog To The New Lightroom Classic Catalog Format
Most Lightroom Classic users do not understand that just installing the latest version of the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic software package is not enough. You will also need to upgrade your current Lightroom Catalog to the newest format after you have installed the latest version of the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic application.
Each version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic uses a slightly different Catalog format and these formats are not backwards compatible. Upgrading your current Lightroom Catalog is a separate step from installing the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software.
In this phase of the installation process, Lightroom Classic will ask your permission to upgrade a copy of your existing Lightroom Catalog. The Adobe engineer’s have been quite careful here.
Upgrading an existing Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Catalog does not alter your old .lrcat file. Lightroom Classic will automatically make a copy of your older .lrcat file during this phase of the upgrade process so that you could go back to an older version of the program should any trouble occur. If you are working with a large Lightroom Catalog then this step might take a while. Please be patient.
When the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Catalog upgrade process completes you will have two separate .lrcat files. Your new Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Catalog will have a “-2” appended onto the end of your old Lightroom Catalog’s file name.
Adobe automatically appends the -2 mark so that your new Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Catalog will not overwrite your older .lrcat files. Unfortunately, this automatic renaming of your old Lightroom Classic Catalog can create a lot of confusion.
Once the Lightroom Classic Catalog upgrade process is complete, I urge you to rename your new .lrcat file and your Previews.lrdata file / Smart Previews file (folder for Windows users). Carefully renaming your Lightroom Classic Catalog, and all of it’s various Preview / helper files, at this point is a great way to prevent confusion.
If everything is working properly then you could delete your old Lightroom Catalog at this point but I suggest waiting a few weeks until you are completely convinced that Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic is working properly. Leaving a copy of your older Lightroom Catalogs on your hard drive takes up very little disk space and it will do you no harm until you are sure that the entire upgrade went as planned.
Step 4: Set Your Preferences
Once you have successfully upgraded your old Catalog you should immediately visit the new Lightroom Classic Preferences Menus. The upgrade process is not truly complete until you have made an important change within the Lightroom Classic Preferences Menu.
To prevent confusion, please visit the Preferences > General Tab and tell the program to load your newly upgraded Lightroom Classic Catalog as the new Default. This is where renaming your Catalog files really helps. Often, those who skip the Catalog renaming step accidentally create a mess of needless extra .lrcat files when the program asks them to upgrade their old Catalog again and again.
Step 5: Back Everything Up Again
If the upgrade process worked properly then you should now have access to all of the images, Collections, etc. that were in your older Lightroom Catalog. If everything went well than you should have all of your existing work plus the exciting new tools that are available inside of Lightroom Classic. I urge you to take this opportunity to make another complete backup of everything at this point so that you are ready if disaster strikes.
If all goes well then it generally takes less than an hour to move from an older version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic. Things may take considerably longer if you are using a slow Internet connection, or if you are upgrading a very large Catalog, but the new tools and performance enhancements that the latest version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic offers are well worth the effort.
If you are using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic on more than one computer then be sure to repeat the program installation process on each machine. Likewise, if you have more than one Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Catalog then you will need to repeat the Catalog upgrade process again for each of your Lightroom Classic Catalogs.
Repeating the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Catalog upgrade process is not something to fear but as I always say working with only one Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Catalog always makes life easier.