How To Update Lightroom And Keep Your Catalogs Safe

With each new release, Lightroom requires specific changes.

I’ve made this Blog Post which guides you personally through the hole manual process of the Lightroom CC update including the steps to keep your catalogs safe. Please follow this tutorial to be up to date with their newest Software!

I’m sure you have plenty of questions about the upgrade process. Let’s take a look what you need to know before, in order for the update to run smoothly and without any issues.

While the process of upgrading the actual software is pretty easy, there are some important steps you need to take to make sure that the Lightroom catalogs are upgraded successfully.


First, you need to be sure that you are installing the right program.


As of October 2017, there are now two versions of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: Adobe Lightroom Classic CC and Lightroom CC. Adobe is rebranding the product that we have come to prefer as editing software over the past years.

Adobe Lightroom CC loading screen

1. Check the necessary minimum system requirements for Lightroom

The first step, as with any new Software out there, is to check your Computers/Mac’s hardware specification is good enough to run Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC. In case you’re using an older version of Lightroom because you have an older Computer, you may have to buy a new PC before you upgrade. You can find the requirements for Windows and Mac OS computers here.

2. Check if Lightroom Classic CC works with your operating system.

If you’re a Mac User, you need at least the OS X 10.11 or later. If you’re a Windows PC user then you need Microsoft Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 (64-bit) or later.




3. Make sure you make a backup copy of your Lightroom Catalog.

This is a precaution in case anything goes wrong during the process of the Catalog upgrade. It’s unlikely, but you never can be safe enough! Even Lightroom makes a copy for your Catalog you never know what’s going to happen so it’s worth to take the extra mile to make sure your data is safe.


4. Take a note of the location and name of your Lightroom Catalog.

In case the Software doesn’t find your Catalog automatically like it’s supposed to do, it’s helpful to know where your Catalog is saved and what’s the name of it. You’ll find the location under the General tab in Catalog Settings within the Software.

Adobe Lightroom CC Catalogue settings screenshot

5. Now start the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Update.

After checking all the System requirements and you finished backing up your catalog. Just go to the Adobe Creative Cloud Installer App and you will find the Photoshop Lightroom Classic listed as an update inside of your Creative Cloud App manager window.

If you click on the Update button the download and installation process to update Adobe Lightroom Classic CC will begin.

Update Adobe Lightroom CC

6. Upgrade your Adobe Lightroom Catalog

Once you have finished installing the new Photoshop Lightroom Classic application you then will need to upgrade your Lightroom Catalog to the new Lightroom Classic Catalog Format.

Adobe will ask you in this part of the Installation process for your permission to upgrade a copy for your existing Lightroom Catalog.

Adobe Lightroom upgrade catalogue

Each version of Lightroom is using a slight different Catalog format and those formats are not compatible backwards. Installing the Adobe Lightroom Software and upgrading your current Lightroom Catalog are two separate steps you need to take.

Your old .lrcat file won’t be altered from upgrading an existing Lightroom Catalog. In case any trouble occurs, Lightroom Classic is making automatically a copy of your older .lrcat file during the phase of the upgrade process so you could always go back to an older version of the program. This step can take a while if you have a large Lightroom catalog so be patient and grab a nice coffee!

Once the Lightroom Classic Catalog upgrade process is successfully completed you will have at least two separate .lrcat files. The new Lightroom Classic CC version will probably have a number like ’’-2’’, ’’or -3’’ etc., appended onto the end of your old Lightroom Catalog’s file name.

Adobe will automatically appends the -2 mark to prevent that your new Lightroom Classic Catalog will not overwrite your older .lrcat files. I urge you to rename your new .lrcat file and your Previews .lrdata file / Smart Previews file (folder for windows user) once the Lightroom Classic upgrade is complete.

Rename Adobe Lightroom Catalogues screenshot

To prevent confusion it’s recommended to carefully rename your catalog, and these Preview files. Leaving a copy of your older Lightroom Catalogs on a seperate device doesn’t take much space and it will maybe safe you a lot of hustle in case something goes wrong.

Make sure you keep it for a few weeks to make sure everything works as planned.

7. Setting your Preferences

There’s an important change within the Lightroom Classic Preferences Menu you have to take. You should immediately visit the new Lightroom Classic Preferences Menu and press on the General Tab.
Adobe Lightroom CC preferences sceenshot

Tell Lightroom to load your fresh upgraded Lightroom Classic Catalog as the new Default. Renaming your Catalog files really helps here.

Adobe Lightroom CC catalogue settings screenshot

Most likely, those who skip the Catalog renaming step accidentally create a mess of unnecessary .lrcat files when the program asks them to upgrade their old Catalog again.

8. Congratulations! Back up again to wrap it up.

Now you should have access to all of the images, Collections, etc. that were in your older Lightroom Catalog, if the upgrade process worked properly. You should now have all of your existing work and all the new tools that came with the update of Lightroom Classic.

You can now back up once again, this step is totally up to you and not necessary but recommended in case anything happens.

The hole Process of updating the Software shouldn’t take longer than an hour. If you have a large Catalog it could take a bit longer but just grab another coffee and you will do just fine!

I hope that this blog post will help you understand how to update Lightroom on the newest version and what steps are necessary to make sure all your data is safe.



I hope this guide helps you in process of updating your Lightroom. Let me know in the comments if you have any further questions. You can also check out my YouTube for getting more Tips & Tricks about Lightroom and Photography.

Or download one of my free presets for Lightroom 👇

Free Lightroom Presets download link

Button Link free Lightroom presets

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