Today’s Question: I have many photos in Lightroom Classic still set to Process Version 3. How can I update them all to Process Version 5 in one step?
Tim’s Quick Answer: You can update the Process Version for all photos by selecting all photos in the catalog, making sure a photo with an older Process Version is the active photo, and then changing the Process Version in the Develop module while the Auto Sync feature is enabled.
More Detail: You can think of the Process Version in Lightroom Classic as relating to the version of Lightroom Classic that was used to process a photo in the Develop module. The Process Version determines which adjustments are available and how they work, based on updates to the Process Version over the years.
For example, I’m sure many Lightroom Classic users are familiar with the current set of tonal adjustments in the Basic section of the right panel in the Develop module. Those are Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks, which are reflected in the most recent Process Version 5. However, in the first Process Version those adjustments were Exposure, Recovery, Fill Light, Blacks, Brightness, and Contrast.
In addition to different adjustments being available in different process versions, the algorithms behind some adjustments have changed over the years as well. In general, I recommend working with photos in the most recent Process Version, which is current Process Version 5.
If you want to update the Process Version for all images in the catalog, you will want to first locate an image that has the Process Version set to something other than Process Version 5. The setting for the Process Version is the Process popup found in the Calibration section at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop module. It is important that an image with an older Process Version be the active photo, as otherwise selecting the latest Process Version from the popup won’t actually register as a change.
After selecting an image that has an older Process Version set, choose the “All Photographs” collection in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module. Make sure there aren’t any filters set on the Library Filter bar so you’re seeing all your photos. Then choose Edit > Select All to select all photos in your entire catalog.
You can then go to the Develop module and click the toggle switch on the left side of the Sync button at the bottom of the right panel, which will enable the Auto Sync feature. Then go to the Calibration section and choose “Version 5 (Current)” from the Process popup.
Keep in mind that there is the possibility that the appearance of some photos will change slightly when you update the Process Version. For this reason, some photographers prefer to update the Process Version only for individual photos as you work with them, rather than in batch. However, you can certainly update the Process Version in batch as explained here. I do recommend however that you then review images that you intend to print or otherwise share to fine-tune the adjustments in the Develop module as needed, in case the update to the Process Version caused an undesirable change to the appearance of the photo.