In the video tutorial below I cover how to migrate all or part of your Lightroom Classic catalog to the new cloud-based Lightroom CC. (Lightroom Classic is the new name for the Lightroom program we have used for 10 years.) This video tutorial is applicable whether you’re ready to switch over, or whether you want to experiment with Lightroom CC using photos and work from Lightroom Classic.
While I could tell you to just go, in Lightroom CC, to File > Migrate Lightroom Catalog, I highly recommend doing the preparation work in Lightroom Classic beforehand that I outline in the video – you’ll need to prepare for the hard drive space that Lightroom CC will require; some of your work in Lightroom Classic won’t migrate over, such as your folder structure, smart collections and snapshots, and you’ll want to develop a strategy for these; and you’ll most likely want to resolve missing files and folders and metadata conflicts first. (For complete instructions on how to resolve missing files and folders, click here and watch the second video tutorial on the page.)
UPDATE FEBRUARY, 2018: Since the migration process will not preserve your folders, if your folder organization is important to you I recommend in this video that you create collections and collection sets that mimic your folder structure, as collections and collection sets are preserved during migration. Starting in Lightroom Classic 7.2, easily create collections and collection sets of your folder hierarchy by right-clicking on the highest level folder that you want to include and choose Create Collection Set.
The Video: How to Migrate Your Lightroom (Classic) Catalog to the New Cloud-Based Lightroom CC
For best quality, after hitting Play, click on the sprocket wheel in the bottom right and choose 720/HD.
- Syncing from Lightroom Classic won’t carry over original files – migrate or import
- Lightroom 5 and earlier version users: you must upgrade your catalog to at least Lightroom 6 first
- Plan how you will accommodate duplicate files on your hard drive(s).
- Understand what work you have done will migrate and what will not
- Translate your folder structure into collections and collection sets
- Keywords will be flattened
- Convert smart collections to regular collections
- Convert snapshots to virtual copies
- Resolve your missing file and folder issues
- Resolve metadata conflicts
- If you want to export just a portion of your catalog
- Understand what your catalog is named and where it is
- Migration error message “Something went wrong”
- Reviewing the results
- The idea of continuing to work in both programs (most of you shouldn’t)
In this migration lesson, I advise you to create collections and collection sets to mimic your folder structure in Lightroom Classic if you want to preserve access to your photos by these folder names and structure. This older video tutorial will show you how to create collections – ignore the instructions on syncing the collections, though – just create collections and add photos to them. In the video I don’t mention collection sets – to create a collection set, click on the + to the right of Collections, choose Collection Set, and give the set a name and hit Create. Then drag one or more collections into the collection set. You can also nest/drag collection sets into other collection sets.
Users of Lightroom 5 and Earlier Versions
To use the migration process, you’ll need to first upgrade your Lightroom catalog to at least Lightroom 6. If you don’t own it but you have subscribed to the Creative Cloud Photography Program, download and install Lightroom Classic 7 and upgrade. Here’s a video on how to upgrade to Lightroom Classic 7. If you have subscribed only to Lightroom CC, sign up for a free trial of the CC Photography Program.
If that’s more than you want to take on, there is an alternative: save your work out to the files (“write to XMP”), and then do a straight import (Add Photos) in Lightroom CC. The downside to this, however, is that this XMP process will not save your collections (and in the migration process I recommend using collections to mimic your Lightroom Classic folder structure if that is meaningful to you). You’ll also lose pick and reject flags and virtual copies. If you decide to use the XMP process, there’s still value in watching the migration video to understand what will carry over and what won’t. (Use keywords instead of collections to capture your folder structure).
To save to XMP:
- Resolve missing file and folder issues for any photos you want to migrate over (see migration video)
- Resolve metadata conflicts if you use multiple Lightroom catalogs or another raw editor in addition to Lightroom (see migration video)
- Select all your files – go to All Photographs in the Catalog panel
- Go to Metadata>Save Metadata to Files (Cmd/Ctl-S)
To import your photos and work into Lightroom CC, in Lightroom CC click on the + (Add Photos button) and navigate to your folder(s) of photos.
Note that even Lightroom 6 and Classic users can use this alternative “write to XMP” process.