Catalog Version Support in Lightroom Classic


Today’s Question: I have a new MacBook Air running the latest MacOS (Ventura) and Lightroom Classic 12. For years I have been copying my Lightroom catalog to my iMac and successfully printing on my Epson. My iMac will not update any longer and is stuck at Catalina and now I find that it will not upgrade to Lightroom Classic 12. How can I use my Lightroom Classic 12 catalog on my Lightroom 11 iMac?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Put simply: you can’t. Older versions of Lightroom Classic can’t open catalogs that have a different format from a later version. To print from the older computer you would need to export the source files from Lightroom Classic and use those files for printing.

More Detail: You can think of the Lightroom Classic catalog as being tied to the applicable “major” release of Lightroom Classic. A major release is generally signified by a whole number increase in the version number, such as from version 11 to 12. A minor release would be a decimal update, such as from version 12 to 12.1.

In this example the catalog would be compatible with either Lightroom Classic version 12 or 12.1, but that catalog could not be opened with Lightroom Classic version 11. Similarly, a catalog from version 11 could not be opened with version 12 unless it was updated, and the update would cause that catalog to no longer be supported by version 11.

Support for hardware and operating system versions changes over time, with support for older configurations dropping from time to time. For example, right now Lightroom Classic only supports MacOS Big Sur (version 11) or later for Macintosh users, and Windows 10 for Windows users.

Furthermore, as noted in today’s question, some hardware configurations will not allow an update beyond a certain operating system version, which creates a conflict in terms of software support.

In this case the only way to enable both computers to access the Lightroom Classic catalog would be to not upgrade to version 12 on the newer computer. Since you’ve already installed that upgrade, this would require you to roll back to an older catalog, which would mean losing any updates you’ve made within the Lightroom Classic 12 catalog.

The easiest solution in this situation would be to export the photos you want to print from Lightroom Classic 12 and then use those exported copies as the basis for printing on the older computer. Of course, if you can get the printer working with the newer computer, that might be an even better solution.