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Upgrading the Catalog in Lightroom Classic Version 9

We’ve been getting quite a few questions about this issue. So we thought it would be a good idea to address it in a blog post. Should you update to Lightroom version 9 and upgrade your catalog?  The short answer is: yes!

By all means, upgrading to the latest version and upgrading your catalog is perfectly safe and you should proceed without worry!

If you want more info on what’s new in version 9, the Lightroom Queen has a good summary: What’s New in Lightroom Classic 9.0 (November 2019)?

Why Do I Need to Upgrade My Catalog?

At its heart, Lightroom is a database. The lrcat file stores all the information about your photos, where they are, what develop settings you have applied and much much more. There is a lot of information packed into the lrcat! Occasionally, the underlying structure of the lrcat needs to be upgraded so that new features and performance improvement can be implemented. 

It has been at least since version 7 that we needed to upgrade our catalogs. There have been a lot of process and performance improvements since then so it is natural that an upgrade is needed for version 9.

What Happens When I Upgrade?

The first thing Lightroom will do is ask you which catalog you want to upgrade. Most folks only have one catalog. However, no two photographers work the same way! In some cases it is helpful or necessary to have more than one catalog. You can, if you need, point Lightroom to a different catalog using the “Choose a Different Catalog.”

Upgrade Catalog Lightroom 9 - catalog upgrade dialog box

Once you have selected the catalog you want to upgrade, Lightroom will duplicate your existing catalog so that if anything goes wrong, there is a backup copy of your original! A quick side note, you can easily rollback which version of Lightroom you are using in the Adobe Create Cloud app but, that’s better addressed in different blog post!

After you find the catalog you want to upgrade, simply hit the “Upgrade” button and Lightroom will go to work. You will see a new dialog box with a progress bar.

Upgrade Catalog Lightroom 9 - catalog upgrade progress bar

What Do I need to Do After It Has Finished?

Nothing! Once Lightroom has upgraded the lrcat file, Lightroom will launch your catalog and you should be able to proceed as normal.

Upgrade Catalog Lightroom 9 - file names

As mentioned, when Lightroom does the upgrade it will make a duplicate copy before starting. If you look in the folder where your current catalog is located you will see a bunch of files with “-2” at the end. This is normal and you can leave these as is.

However, as an optional step, you can clean these up and store your old safely catalog. First quit Lightroom. Then simply rename your old catalog (the one without a -2). Then, make sure all of the attendant -2 files for the catalog have exactly the same name. The best thing to do is to remove the “-2” from the file name.

Upgrade Catalog Lightroom 9 - [Animated GIF] Renaming the file names of a Lightroom catalog

Contact Us

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Use the contact form or leave us a comment down below!

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