Lightroom Tips

Getting Your Beta Catalog Into Lightroom 3

Since Lightroom 3 was announced last week, I’ve seen a bunch of questions around how to get the work you’ve done in the Lightroom 3 Beta into the full version of Lightroom 3. So here’s a quick tutorial:

Step 1: Open Lightroom 3 (the new full version, not the beta). If you’ve upgraded a Lightroom 2 catalog then great. If not, you can also start from a fresh new catalog if you’d like.

Step 2: Now go to File > Import From Catalog. Navigate to where your Lightroom 3 Beta catalog was stored and choose the .LRCAT file.

Step 3: Lightroom will think for a couple of minutes and compare everything from your beta catalog to what exists in the new Lightroom 3 catalog (if anything). When it’s done, it’ll show you a dialog similar to the one below which lists all of the folders and contents of the beta catalog.

Step 4: The best options here are to leave the defaults. Under File Handling, choose Add the new photos without moving them and click Import. After a few minutes your new Lightroom 3 catalog will look just like your beta catalog did with all of the changes you’d made to your photos.

Hopefully this clears up a few things for you if you’re making the switch from the beta to the full version. Thanks!



  1. Scotty 8 July, 2010 at 16:36 Reply

    Hey All,

    I just upgraded to LR3 from LR1 and the LR3 beta. I was able to import and upgrade my catalog from LR1 with no issues, but can’t find the catalog from LR3 beta. Where might this have been saved by default? I did a fair amount of editing in LR3 beta and would love to be able to have access to those edits and rating. I was able to add the images that I original images (with no edits or ratings) by synchronizing the file. Any thoughts?

  2. Ingrid Wagner 2 July, 2010 at 01:31 Reply

    I missed the boat! 3.2 beta has disappeared and I cannot find a number of files, including my website file in the new LR3. I have no idea how to find everything. Help!!!

  3. Alis in Wnderlnd 23 June, 2010 at 16:43 Reply

    I’ve figured out what works: select the collections, then select all the photos in those, then do a file>export as catalog. Go to new LR3 and file>imprt as catalog. THEN, reconnect the files to the data location (for me on a different drive), then remove copies of images that were duplicated from my application hd during catalog creation. I already have 3 back-up of these images.

    My question is now that I have moved and merged my catalogs into one master catalog. Can I trash the older ones I’m not using? They take up HUGE amount of space.

  4. Suzanne Offner 18 June, 2010 at 17:22 Reply

    I’m trying to avoid errors, so I’m exporting my LR3 beta catalog now–I’m hoping it’s OK if I uncheck the box for Export negative files, the photos themselves are fine where they are, right?
    I can just open that in LR3 as my regular catalog, and leave the 2002 as an archive.
    I actualy reprocessed a lot of photos in the beta, so my LR3 beta catalog is all duplicates of LR2.

  5. Glyn Dewis 17 June, 2010 at 03:03 Reply


    Thanks for the walk through…works a treat 🙂

    On an other note (and feel free to ignore me if you’ve already mentioned this 🙂 ) but I accidentally stumbled upon pressing the ‘Alt’ key when in the Library Module ie it changes Clarity to Sharpening, Vibrance to Saturation, Export to Export Catalog and shows a number next to each keyword to reveal how many images contain it.

    In the Develop Module it brings in a Reset to individual sections as opposed to resetting the whole image.

    Again apologies if you’ve already mentioned this; just put it down to me rambling on 🙂


  6. Benjamin Lynch 16 June, 2010 at 17:35 Reply

    Does anyone know how to quickly select all images in a stack?? This has changed from LR2 & used to be a simple matter of clicking the first images’ number in the top left hand corner. I use stacks quite a lot for one aspect of my work & this driving me a bit nuts. Thanks!!

  7. Victor Dellepiane 16 June, 2010 at 17:32 Reply

    What is the location of the LR Beta 3 catalog?? or how can I find it..your input will be appreciated.

  8. Ed Sward 15 June, 2010 at 18:00 Reply

    On a slightly different thread, LR3 upgrade was installed back on release day. The auto installation removed LR3 beta. LR3 imported LR2 catalogs and ran for maybe 15 – 20 minutes, then crashed to desktop screen with no error message when Develop module selected. Had email exchange with Adobe tech (never able to get live person) that suggested recreating preferences file. This has had some benefit but LR3 still not fully functional, but I CAN use the Develop module now. LR2 currently non-functional.

    Still waiting for reply from Adobe tech, now 5 days and trouble ticket still open. Maybe someone has a long prod that might get them to respond?

  9. Thomas 15 June, 2010 at 12:25 Reply

    I haven’t found any issue with upgrading at all.. in fact, when I launch LR3, I see in the dialog box my LR3-beta catalogs and my LR2 catalogs as options to choose when opening. If it’s an LR3-beta catalog it just opens right up, and if it’s an LR2 catalog I get one more box saying I need to upgrade the catalog and I click okay.

    So, I’m not sure why you need to point out the step of re-importing from an existing catalog..? The upgrade from LR2 catalogs creates a copy, so you’re not losing the original data if for some reason you’d want to keep that.

    • Rob 23 June, 2010 at 09:27 Reply

      By importing the catalog is actually combines the two catalogs into one. The think that is where all the confusion lies. The article makes it seem like you are just importing the old catalog. That is not really what you are trying to do.

  10. jim Stamates 15 June, 2010 at 11:16 Reply

    I had problems, too. Like Arne said, works if you do not have duplicates. Here’s the work around if you do have duplicate images in both your LR2 and Beta and you already have LR2 converted to LR3; Launch the Beta (you can have LR 3 opened at the same time), export to catalog your entire beta catalog. Then go to LR3, choose import from catalog and find the new catalog you created from Beta.

    Hope it helps. Worked for me.

  11. paperpuncher2 15 June, 2010 at 10:11 Reply

    I’m with dtpancio. I downloaded the release version the day it came out, uninstalled LR2 & LR3B, installed LR3 and opened my catalogs no questions asked. No problems so far…but I hope I didn’t miss anything.

  12. Maryann 15 June, 2010 at 08:19 Reply

    I have a few photos in both LR2 and LR3beta catalogs. I’ve done editing on some photos in both LR2 and LR3beta? What will happen when I upgrade to LR3??? What should I do to avoid any problems?

  13. Bob Abela 15 June, 2010 at 06:58 Reply

    Thanks for the feedback Matt. Unfortunately, this did not work. There was no .LRCAT file specific to the LR3beta. I did note several LR3 .LRCAT files that were created prior to upgrade to LR3. They must have been associated to the beta but attempting to import these resulted in a dialog box with an error message “Lightroom could not import this catalog because of an unknown error.”

    Beta or not, Adobe screwed this one up. But I do commend them for acknowledging the issue. Hopefully the dot release that Arne noted will resolve. If not, will just write it off as a bad experience that could have been much worse.

  14. Arne 15 June, 2010 at 04:24 Reply

    No, this currently only works if you have no duplicates between the two catalogs (which is why the screenshot worked: “changed existing photos (none found”). Any duplicate folders will crash the import. It’s a bug – a major one for a release version – that has been discussed at great length on the Adobe Lightroom forum ( Adobe has acknowledged it and promises to fix it in a dot release, but so far hasn’t said when.

    • ricardo 15 June, 2010 at 17:01 Reply

      I believe that Arne’s comment best describes what the problem is.

      I read that some people have errors and others don’t. In my case I do have errors importing from LR3 Beta since I do have duplicates images.

      This is the way I worked with the beta program.

      1- I kept using LR2 for all my work.

      2- I download and tried LR3 Beta but with only a few images -subset- from my main LR2 Catalog.

      3- When LR3 was out, I upgraded it. The LR3 automatically deleted my LR3 Beta and the only thing left was the LR3 Final version.

      4- I upgraded my “main” LR2 catalog into LR3.

      5- When I did try to import the “subset” catalog from LR3 Beta, using the steps described by Matt K. above, I do get the error. Duplicates definitely seem to be the factor.

      So.. I STRONGLY advise on reading ARNE’s post and link to the Adobe Forums.

      Hope this help clarify the mistery.


      • Aleq 16 June, 2010 at 07:19 Reply

        Exactly my situation and problem. Unknown error while importing beta catalog with duplicates. The error pops out even before import dialog is shown. I have reported it to Adobe already and sent them sample catalogs, they’re working on that.


    • ricardo 16 June, 2010 at 18:04 Reply

      update: 06.16.2010 – The same bug happens if you try to import from a LR2 catalog which has duplicate photos (i.e. photos that already exist on the LR3 catalog)

  15. dtpancio 15 June, 2010 at 03:39 Reply

    I just opened the catalog created with the beta with Lr3 and everything worked..what do I not considered?

    Another question..I noticed that after I’ve imported my Lr2/Lr3Beta catalogs the “Metadata File Needs To Be Updated” icon appears for every photo, even if I don’t selected “Automatically Write Changes Into XMP” and I’m working with .CR2 files.

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