October 17, 2017 | 41651 Views | By Dan Harlacher

3 Steps for Moving from Lightroom to ON1 Photo RAW

Special note: In the release of ON1 Photo RAW 2019 we added the ability for customers to transfer their photos with raw processing and editing settings from Lightroom’s Develop module (including crop, retouching, and local adjustments) to ON1 Photo RAW 2019. That’s correct! The photos are also migrated non-destructively so they can be re-edited in ON1 Photo RAW 2019. Learn more about the Lightroom® Migration here.
Are you ready or thinking about making the switch from Lightroom to ON1 Photo RAW? If so, we want to make your transition as smooth as possible. There are two common ways to make the switch from Lightroom to ON1 Photo RAW and both depend on how you currently store your photos. I broke the most common method down into 3 steps to make it easier to follow along when making the switch from Lightroom. There is an alternate path (Path 2 below) that is even easier. Let’s begin!

Path 1
Remember, Lightroom is a non-destructive editor so all the metadata changes and the edits you’ve made are in Lightroom’s catalog file, not in the photos themselves. Fear not. We want you to maintain as much as you can from Lightroom so your time is not wasted. Our Lightroom Migration Assistant helps tremendously when your are ready to make the switch from Lightroom to ON1 Photo RAW. There are some key steps in this process to prepare first.

  1. Find your photos – Connect any external drives or shares containing photos you want to migrate. Then use the Sync Folder command in Lightroom to make sure your Lightroom catalog and the actual files are up-to-date. This will add any photos that Lightroom is missing as well as remove broken links.
  2. Pre-organize – Take this opportunity to remove any photos, virtual copies or collections you don’t care about. It’s also a good time to reorganize your folders if necessary. If you have multiple catalogs, rinse and repeat.
  3. Make the Switch – Next install ON1 Photo RAW if you haven’t already. Then open Lightroom and go to the File > Plug-in Extras menu. Then select the Migrate Catalog to ON1 Photo. You will see a dialog that looks like this.

The Migration Assistant will add all of the top-level folders in the Folders pane in Lightroom to Cataloged Folders in ON1 Photo RAW. All of the photos inside of these folders will be cataloged
automatically. Any metadata changes made in Lightroom will be migrated as well.
Things to Note about Path 1

  • What About Collections?
    Any normal collections, the ones you drag and drop photos into, and their contents will be copied over as Albums. If you have used collection sets, their organization will be maintained as well. Unfortunately Smart Collections will not be migrated, but you can create Smart Albums later, which are similar.
  • What About My Edits from Lightroom?
    Lightroom and ON1 Photo RAW are both non-destructive editors. Again, edits are stored as instructions and not pixels. While both apps do similar things, they also do similar things differently. ON1 can’t take the exact instructions Lightroom creates and produce the same results. This leads us to two additional options to consider when switching from Lightroom.

Option 1:
Make the switch from Lightroom without those edits.
Option 2:
Create copies with the edits applied to them.
If you create copies, the Migration Assistant will find any photos in Lightroom with edits and will create a copy in the format you desire. The copies are stored next to the original photos.
The migration process can take some time especially if you select the copy with Lightroom adjustments option. You can continue to use Lightroom and ON1 Photo during the migration process. The Migration Assistant is intended for one-time migration of catalogs, not continual syncing of changes. However, if you have more than one Lightroom catalog you can use the Migration Assistant again on each catalog to merge them into one ON1 Photo RAW installation.
Path 2
If you store and manage photos in a folder structure and your photos are then organized in sub-folders making the switch is VERY easy. This path also assumes any edits you have made to your photos are stored in the photos themselves, or copies of the original photos. This is the case if you have been using a normal pixel-editor like Adobe® Photoshop® or Photoshop Elements®. Simply open ON1 Photo RAW and browse to the location where your photos are stored. If you have any top-level folders (like your My Pictures folder) set it as a cataloged folder. Go to the File menu and select Add Cataloged Folder. This will add all of your folders and the photos in those folders to ON1 Photo RAW. Cataloging occurs in the background which extracts and catalogs the photos metadata as well as a screen-sized preview for each photo so you can search and move between photos lightning-fast pace. That’s it, you’re done.

30 comments on “3 Steps for Moving from Lightroom to ON1 Photo RAW”

  1. On October 18, 2017 at 6:55 am levinrodriguez@icloud.com wrote:


    I would love to dump LR completely, however until PhotoRAW gives me the same flexibility to apply filters based on Dates, Keywords and so on I really can’t. I am still importing with LR JUST BECAUSE this, I do all the editing in PhotoRAW. LR allows you to select some filters and save them under a name to remember them. Then they display them above the grid and as you select them, the grid responds accordingly. This is absolutely necessary when you have thousands and thousands of photos.

  2. On October 18, 2017 at 6:44 pm Luc Beliveau wrote:

    Luc Beliveau

    I use LR6 and On1 Photo Raw as a plugin but now I give up LR and I will use only On1. I have to choose wich path is better for me, I have 30000 files stored in LR, so I guess that it will be a very loooong migration process. Since I got a Fuji X-T2 three weeks ago, One1 is a lot better for processing Fuji raw files and I don’t like at all the new LR Classic based cloud, I prefer buying a perpetual licence and paying for the future upgrades. For me, the perpetual licence is a big advantage over LR and an incentive to get disapointed LR user like me and new customers.

  3. On October 19, 2017 at 12:05 pm bastian.lotsch@web.de wrote:


    What exactly is meant by “all metadata changes made in Lightroom will be embedded in the original photos”, in particular regarding RAW files? I’d rather not have a software manipulate my raw files. Instead I would suspect the metadata to be saved to the corresponding xmp file?

    1. On October 19, 2017 at 12:15 pm Patrick Smith replied:

      Patrick Smith

      It means it writes xmp sidecar files for raw.

      1. On October 20, 2017 at 1:28 am bastian.lotsch@web.de replied:


        Thanks for this quick reply!

  4. On October 20, 2017 at 9:10 am Scott Blanchette wrote:

    Scott Blanchette

    Question on “ON1 can’t take the exact instructions Lightroom creates and produce the same results.”. Does that mean no adjustments are duplicated, or some adjustments are still done by On1, just not all, leaving results slightly different?

    1. On October 20, 2017 at 11:30 am Patrick Smith replied:

      Patrick Smith

      It means we wont copy over the adjustments from lightroom. Different raw processors use different methods and so if we were to do this the results would be different.

  5. On October 20, 2017 at 2:38 pm John Mortier wrote:

    John Mortier

    The only thing I’m missing is the texting. I’ll make the switch to On1 Photo Raw and will kee Photoshop for the moment.

  6. On October 21, 2017 at 10:54 am David sweet wrote:

    David sweet

    I just started the migration process in Lightroom and I got the following error message AgExportRendition:imageRegionMetadataUpdater(): original can not be found Can you tell me what to do to fix the issue? Thanks

    1. On October 21, 2017 at 11:44 am David sweet replied:

      David sweet

      I just realized that I needed to sync my entire Photos folder. It is now building standard previews on over 7000 photoes. When this is done I will start the migration again. After completion will I be able to at sometime delete the Lightroom Catalogue?

      1. On October 23, 2017 at 9:10 am David sweet replied:

        David sweet

        I tried the migration again and got this error message again AgExportRendition:imageRegionMetadataUpdater(): original can not be found) Any idea how to fix this?

      2. On October 23, 2017 at 12:41 pm Patrick Smith replied:

        Patrick Smith

        I haven’t seen this one. Make sure to send our support team the information and they should be able to help resolve this. http://www.on1.com/contact-on1

    2. On October 24, 2017 at 11:43 am Randy Taylor replied:

      Randy Taylor

      I am having the same issue. Has this been resolved? I can’t find it anywhere in the Knowledge Base.

      1. On October 24, 2017 at 1:35 pm Patrick Smith replied:

        Patrick Smith

        Here is what our support manager says:
        Try syncing your Lightroom catalog before running the migration assistant
        That message will appear if there is an image in your Lightroom catalog that is offline or missing (or Lightroom has yet to identify one as offline or missing)
        If you sync or rescan your catalog prior to doing the migration, the migration tool will skip over any in your catalog that are offline or missing

  7. On October 22, 2017 at 9:43 am gkknipp@att.net wrote:


    I use Stacks in LR6 to keep my photo versions grouped together. Is there a way to convert these to On1 Photo Raw?

  8. On October 23, 2017 at 4:42 am Ken Paige wrote:

    Ken Paige

    Are you planning to provide something similar to Collection Sets in Lightroom? Without that, my Collection list becomes very long.

  9. On October 23, 2017 at 8:21 pm James Hodder wrote:

    James Hodder

    If I migrate to Raw as my primary first processor, is there any way to jump to Photoshop CC? I have a large investment in third-party Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC plugins from numerous companies like Alien Software, Photomatix, Aurora, etc, etc. I still want to use them.
    Jim Hodder

    1. On October 24, 2017 at 9:36 am Patrick Smith replied:

      Patrick Smith

      Yes, Photoshop is automatically detected and can be used as an external editor.

  10. On October 23, 2017 at 10:50 pm louwthom@gmail.com wrote:


    I use LR 6 not the CC version
    I would like to dump LR – I do not want to pay subscriptions
    Then I would like to import the folders -My Photos / Originals = Raw files and Developed copies which are jpeg files
    My sub folders represent areas, events, family groups.
    Do I need to need to move the LR Catalog at all?
    Thank you

    1. On October 24, 2017 at 9:35 am Patrick Smith replied:

      Patrick Smith

      No, you would not need to move the Lr Catalog.

  11. On October 24, 2017 at 11:17 am Claudine wrote:


    I really want to convert to ON1 and dump LR. However, I have done camera calibrations using DataColor software. Is there any feature similar in On1?

  12. On November 14, 2017 at 5:06 pm Melissa Enderle wrote:

    Melissa Enderle

    If after using the MIgration Assistant, I make edits to photos in Lightroom, will those changes automatically be seen in ON1? For people not quite ready to make the full plunge into ON1 (I’ve been a LR user since 2008) what are some workflow tips for such transitioning users?

    1. On November 15, 2017 at 8:53 am Patrick Smith replied:

      Patrick Smith

      Hello Melissa, If you make edits in photos in Lightroom the changes will not be seen in ON1 after using the migration assistant. The migration is more for those looking to move away from Lightroom. One suggestion/workflow tip I have if you are not quite sure about dropping Lightroom yet is to work with all new photos you are shooting in ON1. So any new photo you take, start in ON1 so that you can start to get comfortable.

  13. On March 31, 2018 at 7:31 pm Michael Golden wrote:

    Michael Golden

    I’m trying to migrate my Lightroom library over to ON1 Raw 2018. After I ran the migration plugin in Lightroom all the photo’s showed up in ON1 but they didn’t have the adjustment that I had made in Lightroom like exposure, highlights, shadows etc…. Would love some help in figuring out what I need to do to get those setting moved over.

      1. On March 31, 2018 at 8:24 pm Michael Golden replied:

        Michael Golden

        Thanks, I’ll do that.

  14. On June 29, 2018 at 7:56 am Nick Zavalishin wrote:

    Nick Zavalishin

    I have been using Lr for many years version 4-6. When I import image files from a camera or memory card, I have the raw files automatically converted to ProPhoto RGB color space and saved as a DNG file so I don’t carry the excess baggage of a sidecar file.
    How does the migration tool handle DNG files with ProPhotoRGB colorspace and all of the keywords that were entered in the metadata of these files? I don’t want to spend the rest of my life re-entering this data for TB’s of these image files…

  15. On November 28, 2018 at 12:57 am ivanandrijic wrote:


    Hi, is there a way to re-run Lightroom catalog export. I have accidentally opened wrong catalog so on1 files are created based on wrong catalog. I would like to re-run (overwrite) export. Thank you.

  16. On December 5, 2018 at 3:50 pm Daniel Pesch wrote:

    Daniel Pesch

    I’ve used LR for 3 years now. I’m leaving LR for ON1. The migration process seems to be working just fine, I did have to re-sync the folders as prescribed. I’m I have 20k photos. It is of course taking a looong time and as I write this it is 23% completed. I hope when done that all LR adjustments will have transferred ok. So far so good.
    btw: I decided to switch not only because I do Not like monthly patments to Adobe but I also looked around and did some research. With so editors out there it would seem as though ON1 is one of the better options.

Leave a Comment