How To Downgrade Photoshop and Lightroom

In Blog, How-To by Jeff HarmonLeave a Comment

When you run into a buggy version of Photoshop and/or Lightroom Classic, you may need to downgrade to a prior version. Here is how to do that.

If you have updated to a version of Photoshop and/or Lightroom Classic that is not working for you, here is how you can roll back to a previous version.

Step 1 – Open The Adobe Creative Cloud Application

Windows: Start > Type “Creative Cloud” > Open the application

Mac: Command-Space (Spotlight) > Type “Creative Cloud” > Open the application

Step 2 – Creative Cloud Other Versions

Find the Adobe product you want to downgrade. I am downgrading Photoshop in the example, but it works the same for all of the Adobe products. Each product has a three dot menu to the right:

Click the three dot menu and choose “Other Versions”

Find the version of the product you want to install and click the Install button

Most of the time you can have both (multiple) versions of the Adobe product installed, though I have seen some major updates mean you can only have one at time. The Creative Cloud application will tell you when that is the case.

For example, when you try to downgrade from Lightroom Classic v10 to v9.4, you will see this message telling you that you can’t have both versions installed at the same time.

Lightroom Classic v10 cannot be installed at the same time as v9.4

Potential Lightroom Classic Downgrade Issue

With many of the major updates to Lightroom Classic Adobe makes significant enough changes your Catalog has to be upgraded. If that is the case (I note that on my Software Updates status page) when you open your catalog with a new version of Lightroom Classic you are asked if you want to upgrade your catalog.

The good news is you should be able to rollback to an older version of Lightroom Classic because the catalog you used with the prior version should still be available. The bad news is that if you downgrade you will lose everything you have done in that upgraded catalog because you can’t use the upgraded catalog with an older version of Lightroom Classic.

I know that may be hard to follow, so let me walk through an example. Let’s say that my catalog has the default name of “Lightroom”. In the folder where the Lightroom Catalog is at there would be a number of files and folders:

The files associated with a Lightroom Classic catalog

After upgrading Lightroom Classic from v9.4 to v10.0 you will see a message like this when you open that catalog

By default Lightroom Classic v10 is going to rename your catalog file to “Lightroom-v10”. You probably hit this Upgrade button without worrying too much about what it was going to do as it is the only way to use your v9.4 catalog with LrC v10.

That resulted in your files changing to something like this:

After doing this upgrade there is now a Lightroom.lrcat file that will still work with the previous version of Lightroom Classic (v9.4 in this example). There is also a “Lightroom-v10.lrcat” file now that is an upgraded version of the catalog that will only work with the new version of Lightroom Classic (v10 in this example).

From the point where you upgraded the Lightroom Classic catalog (v9.4 upgraded to v10.0 in this example), anything that was done in the new catalog that is only compatible with v10.0 will not be done in the v9.4 catalog. If you spent a few weeks (or longer) using v10.0 before deciding to downgrade to v9.4 then EVERYTHING you did in Lightroom Classic with the new version will only be in the v10.0 catalog.

You will notice that there are also several folders next to the catalog files. The “Lightroom Helper.lrdata” folder is still there to be used with the older version of Lightroom Classic (v9.4 in our example), and now there is a “Lightroom-v10 Helper.lddata” folder that is for use with the newer version of Lightroom Classic.

Then there are the Previews, Smart Previews, and Sync folders that were not backed up with this upgrade from Lightroom Classic v9.4 to v10.0. With this specific upgrade those folders are compatible with both v9.4 and v10.0 and they didn’t need a backup made.

If you wanted to downgrade Lightroom Classic and get back to where you were before the upgrade that wasn’t working for you:

  1. Close Lightroom Classic
  2. Open up the Creative Cloud application
  3. Downgrade as show above
  4. Rename the “Previews”, “Smart Previews” and “Sync” folders that have “-v10” in the name
  5. Open the “Lightroom.lrcat” catalog file by double-clicking it

You should see your catalog exactly as it was prior to the upgrade.

Do Photoshop and Lightroom Classic Need To Be At The Same Version Level?

Yes, there is an advantage to having Lightroom Classic and Photoshop at the same version level. Unfortunately the version numbers of Photoshop and Lightroom Classic don’t tell you if they are at the same version level.

For example, as of the date of this post in late 2020, the most current version of Lightroom Classic is v10.1 while the most current version of Photoshop is v22.1.0. You can’t tell from the version of either program if they are at the same version level.

The thing photographers want to keep in sync between Lightroom Classic and Photoshop is an engine that is the same between both applications. It is something Adobe calls Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). When that ACR engine is the same between Lightroom Classic and Photoshop photographers can seamlessly edit their photos in both Lightroom Classic and Photoshop. If either of the programs have a different version of ACR the programs will warn you that it doesn’t match.

The best resource I have found about the version of ACR is this Camera-Raw compatible Adobe applications page. This tells you the version of ACR inside versions of Photoshop, and even that isn’t entirely helpful. The ACR version in Photoshop 22.1.0 is 13 and Lightroom Classic is 10.1. None of them line up.

It isn’t a massive issue if Photoshop has an older version of ACR than what Lightroom Classic has inside it. It means if you used new adjustment features in Lightroom Classic those adjustments won’t show up as you round-trip a photo into Photoshop that has an older version of ACR. If you get a message when you go to edit your photo in Photoshop from Lightroom Classic, you know you need to look into updating ACR and possibly Photoshop so that it will all match.

What If I Want a Version of An Adobe Product Not Shown In the Creative Cloud Application?

Unfortunately Adobe has decided to only make it possible to go back one major revision from current through their Creative Cloud application. Adobe officially does not support or offer downloads of their installers for older versions of their products as is clearly stated on their website.

Adobe does not officially support downgrading a product more than one major revision from current.

Though not officially supported, experts in the Adobe Community forums are pointing to the prodesigntools.com website as an unofficial 3rd party that has captured official installers from Adobe for many years and makes them available as direct downloads.

I can’t personally vouch for ProDesignTools. I have never used a download from the site, use that resource at your own risk. However, everything points to the website being legitimate, including their About page where they directly state they are not an official Adobe site but are an Authorized Adobe Affinity Partner.

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