This tutorial is for current Adobe Photoshop Lightroom users who are looking to upgrade to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom version 6 only. Please follow this tutorial instead if you never used Lightroom before and you are looking for advice on How To Install Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 For The Brand New User. Follow this link to our tutorial on How To Upgrade To Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC For The Creative Cloud User instead if you are a currently an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber looking to upgrade to Lightroom CC from an older version of Lightroom.
I believe that you get a lot more value for your money with an Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Subscription Plan. Purchasing Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 is not at this point is not a wise decision but if you are convinced that the Photoshop Lightroom 6 standalone program is the appropriate choice for your image management needs then please read on.
The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 upgrade process can be a frustrating experience. Sadly, the official Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 installer package that you purchased at the store, or downloaded from Adobe online, provides minimal instruction. This lack of internal guidance often creates unnecessary confusion.
First, many Adobe Photoshop Lightroom users do not understand that each version of the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom application including the new Lightroom 6 is a unique stand-alone entity. Installing Photoshop Lightroom 6 will not automatically erase, remove, or modify any older version of this software from your computer. Each version of Lightroom is installed as a completely separate program.
Second, just installing the Lightroom 6 software package is not enough. Once you have installed the new Photoshop Lightroom 6 application then you will also need to upgrade your current Lightroom Catalog for use with the new Lightroom 6 format. Each version of Lightroom uses a different Catalog format and these formats are not backwards compatible. Upgrading your Catalog is a separate step from upgrading the Lightroom software.
Step 1: Back Everything Up and Save All Of Your Metadata Down To The File Level
Upgrading to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 should not harm your computer or your photographs. The odds that something will go tragically wrong are very slim but it is always a good idea to create a COMPLETE BACKUP of your entire system before undertaking any major software change.
Along with creating a reliable backup before you begin the upgrade process, I urge you to take this opportunity to save all of your metadata down to the file level too before you change anything. 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 6 Application
Now it is time to let the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 installer do its thing. During the installation process you will need to agree the legalese in the Adobe’s End User Licensing Agreement and you will need to create an Adobe ID. If the installer asks for additional guidance then be sure that you install the Lightroom 6 application onto your internal hard drive. Apple users should install the program to their internal Macintosh HD > Applications Folder. Windows users will want to install the Lightroom 6.exe program into the Programs Folder on their C: drive.
Step 3: Upgrade your Older Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Catalog To The New Lightroom 6 Catalog Format
Lightroom 6 will ask your permission to upgrade a copy of your existing Lightroom Catalog at the end of the new software installation process. The Adobe engineer’s have been quite careful here.
Upgrading an existing Lightroom Catalog does not alter your old .lrcat file in anyway. Lightroom 6 always makes a copy of your older .lrcat file at this phase of the upgrade process so that you can go back to using an older version of the program should any trouble occur. If you are working with a large Catalog the copy and upgrade process might take a while so please be patient.
When the Lightroom 6 Catalog upgrade process completes you will now have two .lrcat files. The new version–the Lightroom 6 version–will probably have a number like “-2,” or “-3” etc., appended onto the end of your existing Catalog’s file name.
Adobe does this so that Lightroom 6 cannot overwrite your old Catalog. Unfortunately, this can create a lot of confusion. Once the Lightroom CC Catalog upgrade process is complete I urge you to rename your new .lrcat file, your new Previews.lrdata file (folder for Windows users), and if needed the folder that contains all of these items. Carefully renaming your Catalog at this point is a great way to prevent confusion.
You could delete your old Lightroom 5, or previous version, Catalog at this point but I suggest waiting a few weeks until you are completely convinced that Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 is working properly. Leaving a copy of your older Lightroom Catalog on your hard drive for a few more weeks will do you no harm. Yes, the old Lightroom Catalog files does take up a bit of disk space but having your old Catalog around will be very helpful if you encounter unforeseen troubles.
Step 4: Set Your Preferences
Once you have successfully upgraded your old Catalog you should immediately visit the new Lightroom 6 Preferences Menus. The upgrade process is not complete until you set up your Lightroom Preferences. To prevent confusion, please visit the Preferences > General Tab and tell the program to load your new upgraded Lightroom 6 Catalog as the default.
This is where renaming your Catalog files really helps. Often those who skip this critical step accidentally end up creating a mess of needless extra .lrcat files.
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 worked properly then you should have all of your old information plus the exciting new tools that Lightroom 6 brings to the game. 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 6. It may take considerably longer if you are using a very large Catalog, or working with a slow hard drive, but the new tools that Lightroom 6 offers are totally worth the effort.