In a previous post, we considered the differences between Lightroom Classic and the cloud-based Lightroom ecosystem, and how to decide which version is right for you.
If you’ve decided that the cloud-based version of Lightroom is now the best choice for you, the migration tool can safely convert your existing Lightroom catalog to the cloud format and upload your photos.
A word of warning—the migration is a one-way process. Continuing to use and sync Lightroom Classic after migration is not recommended because it won’t let you migrate the same catalog again, and not all data syncs, so you’ll end up with new metadata or photos orphaned in the Lightroom Classic catalog. Be sure of your decision before migrating.
If you’re unsure whether the cloud-based version of Lightroom offers all of the functionality you require, don’t migrate until you’re certain. Instead, use Lightroom Classic to sync smart previews to the cloud so you can view/edit them in Lightroom. This will allow you to fully test the Lightroom ecosystem before committing to switching over completely. (See the Cloud Sync chapter of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic – The Missing FAQ to avoid potential problems caused by using both together.)
Not everything migrates
Many Lightroom Classic features don’t exist in Lightroom. Some of the data gets transferred but remains hidden, and some information simply doesn’t transfer.
Data that doesn’t transfer to the Lightroom database includes:
- Folders and folder hierarchy (although you can convert to collections before migrating, which become albums in Lightroom).
- Develop History States (but the current Develop settings do transfer).
- Snapshots (however you could manually convert to virtual copies before migrating).
- Custom metadata from plug-ins.
- Creations (books, slideshows, prints and web galleries).
- Map module saved locations (but the GPS data itself does transfer).
- Smart collections.
- Shared web galleries will need to be shared again after migration, so the URL’s may change.
Some data gets converted to Lightroom’s format.
- Color labels become keywords.
- Virtual copies become real copies.
- Collection sets become album folders.
- Collections become albums.
What You’ll Need
To run the migration, you’ll need:
- Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC 2015 or Lightroom 6. If you’re migrating from an earlier Lightroom version (1.0-5.7.1), you must first install a trial of Lightroom Classic and allow it to upgrade a copy of your catalog to Lightroom Classic format before running migration.
- On your boot drive (e.g., C:\ or Macintosh HD), you need space for the catalog and smart previews, which can be as much as 20% of the size of your Lightroom Classic catalog and original files.
- The migration process creates a copy of your images, so you’ll need free space for all of the originals, either on the boot drive or on another internal/external hard drive or NAS (network accessible storage). You can set the location of the originals in Preferences > Local Storage before opening the migration tool. This extra space is only needed temporarily, as the local cache can be cleared once the files have safely uploaded.
- Enough cloud storage space to hold all of your photos, otherwise Lightroom won’t be able to upload them. The Photography Plan includes 20GB or the Lightroom plan includes 1TB. If you have a larger library, you can add extra storage space on your account page on Adobe’s website.
- You can only migrate each catalog once, so make sure everything’s set up before moving forward.
Preparing your catalog in Lightroom Classic
Before you start the migration, there’s some prep work to do in Lightroom Classic.
- Go to File menu > Optimize Catalog.
- Go to Library menu > Find Missing Photos to check that all of the originals are available. If some photos are marked as missing, follow these instructions to locate the missing originals.
- Create a smart collection to search for metadata conflicts. (Criteria is Other Metadata > Metadata Status > is > Conflict Detected.)
- In the smart collection, click on the metadata icon in the corner of each thumbnail to fix the conflict. If you’re happy that the catalog’s metadata is correct (which is usually the case), click Overwrite Settings.
- If you organize your photos into named folders in Lightroom Classic and wish to retain that organization, create collections/collection sets to replicate your folder structure (up to 4 deep). The quickest way to do this is to right-click on the parent folder and select Create Collection Set “xxx”. and repeat until all of your chosen folders have been replicated in the Collections panel.
Develop presets designed for Lightroom 4 or later will also work in Lightroom, so you may want to import your profiles and presets.
- Create a folder, perhaps on the desktop, to temporarily store the presets and profiles.
- Copy any DCP format profiles, XMP format profiles and XMP format presets by:
- On Windows, open the Start menu search box and type %appdata%\Adobe\ CameraRaw.
- On macOS, go to Finder > Go menu > Go to Finder and paste ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw.
- Copy the contents of the CameraProfiles and Settings folders to the folder you just created on the desktop.
- If you’re using Lightroom 6, Lightroom CC 2015, or Lightroom Classic 7.2 or earlier, also…
- On Windows, open the Start menu search box and type %appdata%\Adobe\Lightroom.
- On macOS, go to Finder > Go menu > Go to Finder and paste ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom.
- Copy the contents of the Develop Presets folder to the folder on the desktop.
- Check if there’s a Lightroom Settings folder next to your catalog, and if so, copy the contents of the Develop Presets and Settings folders to the temporary folder.
- In Lightroom, go to File menu > Import Profiles & Presets and navigate to the folder on the desktop, then press Import. A progress bar displays at the top of the Preset and Profile Browser panels while they’re importing.
Migrating a catalog
Now it’s time to start the migration itself…
- Quit Lightroom Classic / Lightroom CC 2015 / Lightroom 6 and open Lightroom.
- In Lightroom, select File menu > Migrate Lightroom Catalog.
- In the information dialog that appears, click Continue.
- Review the information in the Before You Begin dialog and click Continue.
- Select the catalog that you want to migrate, then click Start Scan.
- Lightroom scans the catalog and launches the migration tool, displaying a progress bar for you to monitor. This step may take some time to complete, depending on the size of your catalog.
- Review any exceptions that the migration tool reports, for example, if you don’t have enough cloud or local storage space available. If you’ve prepared your catalog in advance, there may not be any exceptions. Stop and fix the problems, then click Check Again, or ignore the exceptions by clicking Continue Anyway.
- Review the information in the Catalog Ready for Migration dialog. If necessary, click Open Log File to check the details of any errors. Then click Start Migration to begin the migration process.
- A progress bar is displayed during the migration process. Depending on the catalog size and your computer specifications, this step may take some time to complete (e.g., many hours, or even a few days if you have tens of thousands of photos), as it copies all of the photos into Lightroom’s own storage space, ready for upload to the cloud.
- When migration is complete, Lightroom displays a confirmation dialog. If there are exceptions, click Open Log File to review what went wrong. Otherwise, you’re all done, and ready to start using Lightroom. Photos may take hours, days or weeks to sync to the cloud, depending on the speed of your internet connection and the number and size of the photos.
- If you run into issues with the migration, the most frequent issues and their solutions are listed here.
- If you have more than one Lightroom Classic catalog, you can repeat the process. An album folder is created for each catalog, so you can identify the source of the photos.
- Once you’re happy that everything’s safely in Lightroom’s storage space and has finished uploading to the cloud, you may choose to delete the Lightroom Classic catalog and photos to free up hard drive space, or move them to a disconnected hard drive as an extra backup. You can also uninstall Lightroom Classic.
- Download a copy of Adobe Lightroom – Edit Like a Pro, to learn all the tips and tricks, as many of Lightroom’s more advanced features are hidden by default.