If you’ve used Lightroom Classic earlier, you’re familiar with the concept of catalogs. A catalog in Lightroom Classic is a database (.lrcat file) containing records for each of your photos and any videos you may have imported. A record in the catalog includes a reference to where the photo lives on your system; your instructions for processing the photo—for instance, the adjustments you applied; and photo metadata, such as keywords and ratings.
On the other hand, in Lightroom, your photos are stored in their full resolution centrally in the cloud, and synced with your computers and devices when you’re working on them. You can migrate your catalogs from Lightroom Classic to Lightroom. When you do so, Lightroom brings in each of your photos included in the catalog and uploads it to the cloud in its full resolution for access across multiple devices and computers. Later, to save on disk space, you can even consider deleting those photos from the local storage on your device.
Collections of your photos in Lightroom Classic automatically become albums in Lightroom. The following data in your Lightroom Classic catalog won’t be available in Lightroom after migration:
- Custom metadata
- Creations: books, slideshows, and print/web creations
- Shares on Lightroom for the web
- Map-saved locations
- Folders and folder hierarchy
- Smart collections
- Develop history
- Color labels (migrated as keywords in Lightroom)
- Optimize the catalog (File > Optimize Catalog).
- Reconnect any missing files. See Locate missing photos.
- Optimize the metadata for the migration. Some tips:
- Custom folder names are not migrated to Lightroom. As a workaround, before migrating, create collections in Lightroom Classic mimicing the custom folder names/structures.
- If you want to continue using Lightroom Classic after migration, consider upgrading to its latest version before migrating the catalog. This step makes it simpler to sync photos and metadata between Lightroom and Lightroom Classic. The original versions of any photos you import into Lightroom are synced back to Lightroom Classic.
- Ensure that the Local Storage > Originals Are Currently Stored In A Custom Location preference points to the desired location. See Local storage preferences.
- Ensure that there's enough disk space in that location to accommodate the original, full-sized images in the Lightroom Classic catalog. The migration process creates a copy of your images. If you're running low on space on an internal drive on your computer, you might want to connect an external hard-drive and specify a location on it as the custom location.
Review the information in the Before You Begin dialog and click Continue. Before doing so, keep the following considerations in mind:
- You can migrate a catalog only once.
- Once you migrate a catalog, Lightroom automatically syncs all your images to the cloud. The catalog no longer syncs in earlier versions of Lightroom, such as Lightroom 6 or Lightroom 2015. The sync functionality is available in Lightroom or the latest version of Lightroom Classic.
(Occasional) Review any exceptions that the migrator reports. For example, the migrator might report an exception if it is unable to locate some photos included in your source catalog. In such a case, you may want to click Migrate Later and begin the process afresh after resolving the catalog issues in Lightroom Classic.
If you want to ignore the exceptions and continue migrating, click Continue Anyway.
Review the information in the Catalog Ready for Migration dialog. If necessary, click Open Log File to inspect details. When ready, click Start Migration.
Lightroom begins the migration process and displays a progress bar. Depending on the catalog size and the resources on your computer, this step may take a while to complete.
Copy your presets to the Lightroom presets folder:
Mac Finder: Macintosh HD/Users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Develop Presets
Windows Explorer: C:\users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Develop Presets
Alternatively, you can choose to move your presets. Do so only when the presets are no longer needed in Lightroom Classic.
Leave the external drive connected until all your photos have synced to the cloud (Sync Status: Synced And Backed Up). After the sync is complete, you can disconnect the drive and set the Local Storage > Originals Are Currently Stored In A Custom Location preference in Lightroom to point to a location on an internal hard-drive. Lightroom moves your previews files from the external hard-drive to the internal location. Your originals remain safely backed up in the cloud.
For related helpful information, see Local storage preferences.