LR005 - Tips for upgrading Lightroom (LR) to the next release

May 08, 2015  •  1 Comment


  • The screen shots containing logos and icons are no longer accurate
  • Perpetual license version of Lightroom haven't been available for a decade or more
  • The official names of products have changed
  • Catalog updates no longer only happen with just full releases
  • Catalog update process now adds the LrC version number rather than a "-2" to the catalog name by default

I will re-write this at some point

LR005 - Tips for Upgrading LR to a new Release (2015)

Last week (May, 2015), Adobe released its latest version of LR.  Depending on how you’re paying for Lightroom, this is called either LR 6.0 or LR CC (2015).  However it is the same code either way.  The only difference is that with the CC version you have the mobility and synchronization options that are not available in the LR6 version.  But, that’s for another post.

In this post I’m going to discuss a few tips for the upgrade process itself, no matter which version (LR6 or LR-CC) one you have. 

  1. After you install the new LR (I’ll just call this LR6 but mean both LR6 and LR-CC), you will still have your old version of LR in place and useable.  If you’re like me and place launch icons on your desktop, quick launch bar or other places, you may want to rename those icons so you know which one launches LR6 and which one launches your older version (say LR5)

01 Blog 005 - Desktop01 Blog 005 - Desktop

  1. Each new full number version of LR uses a different format for the catalog it uses.  So, in order to use the new version (LR6 in this case) you must convert your older catalog to the new format.  You can do this as part of the install process or later.  When LR converts your old catalog to the new version it puts the new catalog and new Previews folder into the same folder as the prior versions’ but puts a “-2” (or higher number if “-2” is already used) at the end of the folder/file names.  I find this quite confusing.  So I create a separate folder for each catalog that will contain the “.lrcat” file, previews folder, settings folder (optional if you are saving your presets with the catalog), and other temporary files that LR uses during operation.  I include both the catalog name and the LR version number as part of the folder. 

The default name for LR catalogs is “Lightroom Catalog” which I show in the screen shots below.  However, I find it much better to change the catalog name to a name more meaningful to me that also includes the LR version number such as “LR5 Master Catalog”,  “LR5 Five Star Images” or “LR5 All Photos”.

After converting a LR catalog - “Lightroom Catalog” in this case - from LR5 to LR6 both the old LR5 catalog and the new LR6 catalog will both be in the same folder. The new LR6 specific files are circled in red below.

02 Blog 005 - Folders A02 Blog 005 - Folders A

So, after you install LR6, close the application.  Then using File Manager or Finder create a new folder for the new catalog.  Move the “dash 2” “.lrcat” file and the “dash-2” “Previews” folder to the new folder and renamed them to a meaningful name for your catalog – including the LR version number (just the number to the left of the decimal point).  Now, copy the “ElareMessages” folder and any other files and folders to the new folder other than the “.lrcat” file and “Previews” folder for your old catalog.  Depending on your settings you may not have any others.  In the case shown above this is the ElareMessages and Lightroom Settings folders.

As shown below I created a new folder for the new catalog, copied and renamed the “lrcat” file and “Previews” folder copied the ElareMessages and Lightroom Settings folders to it.

03 Blog 005 - Folders B03 Blog 005 - Folders B

Note: If you have chosen in your preferences to have your presets saved with the catalog they are stored in the “Lightroom Settings” folder.  Doing this allows for different settings for each catalog and also allows for keeping you settings intact if you move the drive with the catalog to a different computer – say your laptop.

  1. When you convert a LR catalog to the new version there are a couple of things that don’t come along with the conversion.  Two of these are the backup location and backup frequency.  The frequency defaults to “Once a week” and the location defaults to LR’s standard location which is the same folder that holds the catalog itself which pretty much defeats the purpose of a BU.

To Fix the frequency, go to the “General” tab on the catalog preferences (ctrl + Alt + comma) and change the frequency to what you desire (I use “Every time LR exits” and then I decide each time I exit to either let it run or to skip it).  This dialog box also shows you the catalog location but doesn’t let you change it.

04 blog 005 - Settings A04 blog 005 - Settings A

To fix the location, you have to close LR and get the backup dialog box as shown below.  Then click the “Choose” button and navigate to where you want the BU to be placed. 

  05 Blog 005 - BU Screen05 Blog 005 - BU Screen

Each time you BU, LR puts the BU copy of the catalog into a new folder named with the date and time of the BU.  So what you wind up with is a folder whose contents looks like this.  What you don’t see in this list is what version of LR that BU was taken from nor do you see what catalog that backup contains

06 blog 005 - BU Folder List06 blog 005 - BU Folder List

If you keep the same BU location for LR6 that that you used for LR5 or have multiple catalogs, the BU’s from both versions and multiple catalogs will be intermingled in that one folder.  If you remember when you switched from LR5 to LR6 and don’t ever switch back and forth between the two versions (say for comparison purposes) and only have one catalog this is not a problem.  However, if you are switching back and forth between LR5 and LR6 for some time, OR if you have more than one catalog and you ever need to revert to a BU, finding the right one is quite time consuming.  To remedy this I create a separate folder for each LR version + Catalog combination and set the BU location in each catalog to a specific BU folder for that catalog & LR Version.

07 Blog 005 - BU Folder Structure07 Blog 005 - BU Folder Structure

  1. One of the new improvements in LR6 is that the developers have written code to take advantage of GPU (Processing capability on newer graphics cards) in order to improve performance.  By default, this is turned on.  If you have a pretty new computer with a high end graphics card this can result in a noticeable performance improvement.  However, if you have an older graphics card or a lower end model graphics card LR will still try to use it and your performance will be worse since it keeps trying to use something you don’t have.

There is a new tab in the preferences dialog box (ctrl + comma) called “performance”  in that tab there is a check box to turn of or off the use of the graphics processor code.  Rather than trying figure out which kind of card you have, use LR for a bit with this checked and then run it for a bit with this unchecked and see which one seems to work faster and pick that one.

Let me know if you find anything else I need to add to this blog post





Rene Shorter(non-registered)
I was really unaware of upgrading light rooms. Thank you for your great informative post.
No comments posted.
January February March April May June July (1) August (1) September October November December
January February March April May (1) June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May (1) June July August September October November December
January February March April (1) May June July August September October November December (1)
January February March April (2) May June July August (1) September (2) October (1) November (1) December (3)
January February (1) March April May (6) June (1) July (1) August (1) September October November December (1)
January (1) February March (2) April May (1) June (2) July August September October November December