Updated Catalog Confusion


Today’s Question: All of a sudden there appeared a “Lightroom Catalog-2.lrcat”, which is now my catalog [in Adobe Lightroom Classic CC]. How did that happen? Is it a problem?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When you see a dash and a number at the end of the filename for a catalog, that indicates that your catalog had been updated for a newer version of Lightroom. It is certainly not a problem, as long as you don’t open the wrong catalog by mistake.

More Detail: With most updates to Lightroom, your existing catalog will still perfectly fine with the updated version. However, with major updates to Lightroom there is often a change in the catalog file format. When that is the case, Lightroom will prompt you to update the existing catalog (or a catalog you’re trying to open) so it supports the latest Lightroom features.

By default when your Lightroom catalog is updated in this way, a dash and a number will be added to the existing filename. So, for example, the first time this happens a catalog called “Lightroom Catalog.lrcat” will be upgraded to “Lightroom Catalog-2.lrcat”. Note that the original catalog file will remain in the same folder, providing a backup of the prior catalog. The next time an update is required, the new catalog would be “Lightroom Catalog-3.lrcat”.

Once a catalog has been updated the new copy of the catalog will of course work with the newly updated version of Lightroom. The critical thing at this stage is to make sure you are always using the correct catalog file. Fortunately, in this type of scenario where the catalog file needed to be updated, you won’t be able to directly open the older version of the catalog in the newly updated version of Lightroom. So you’ll at least get a clear indication of an issue should you attempt to open an outdated catalog version.

I prefer to move the “outdated” catalog files to a separate backup folder. In other words, I prefer to retain these files at least for a period of time as an additional backup. However, I don’t want those unnecessary files creating any clutter or confusion in the folder that contains my active Lightroom catalog.