Installing the new Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic upgrade can be a frustrating experience for current Lightroom users. 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: Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC.
The names are important here. Adobe is rebranding the product that we have come to love over the past decade. What has been called Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC, or Lightroom v.6, in the past is now called Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic is not the same as the brand new Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC v1.0 program that was also introduced this week. Click here to learn more about the differences between Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic and the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC cloud-centric application.
If you have never used Adobe Photoshop Lightroom before then this tutorial on How To Install Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic For The Brand New User is where you should begin. Likewise, if you are not an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber then this tutorial on How To Install Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 will be more useful for you.
The information below is intended for Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription customers only who are looking to complete the Lightroom Classic upgrade process.
Step 1: Back Everything Up
Upgrading to 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 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 by the software, 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: Install the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Application
The next step in the Lightroom Classic upgrade process begins in the Adobe Creative Cloud Installer App once you understand which version of the new software is right for you. You will find the 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 users do not understand that just installing the Lightroom Classic software package is not enough. Once you have installed the new Photoshop Lightroom Classic application then you will also need to upgrade your Lightroom Catalog to the newest format.
Each version of Lightroom 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 Lightroom 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 Lightroom Classic Catalog upgrade process completes you will have at least two separate .lrcat files. The new version–the Lightroom Classic version–will probably have a number like “-2,” or “-3” etc., appended onto the end of your old Lightroom Catalog’s file name.
Adobe automatically appends the -2 mark so that your new Lightroom Classic Catalog will not overwrite your older .lrcat files. Unfortunately, this 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 Catalog, and these Preview files, at this point is a great way to prevent confusion.
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 this 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.
A clever photographer will take this opportunity to make another complete system backup at this point so that they are ready if disaster strikes.
If all goes well then it generally takes less than an hour to move from an older version up to 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 Lightroom Classics offers are well worth the effort.