How to Open CR2 Files in Lightroom

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If you’re versed with cameras, a CR2 file is not a new term. For starters, it is a raw image file. and it is popular among photographers for its superb quality. Undoubtedly, CR2 files remain one of the best quality image files in the market.

However, a quick look over many photography forums shows several photographers have had issues trying to open these files in top editing software like Lightroom. Learning how to open CR2 in Lightroom can help you resolve these issues.

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How to Open CR2 Files in Lightroom

To open CR2 documents in Lightroom, you have to ensure you have the right Camera Raw plug-in installed. You can do this by updating your Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw versions. Next, launch the updated Lightroom, select the CR2 file location and import it into Lightroom.

Opening CR2 Files in Lightroom by Updating Lightroom

As a photographer, the last thing you want is to struggle to import and open photos on image editing software like Lightroom. The sheer number of hours and photo shoots, only to deal with an unforeseen disappointment, is frustrating.

At times, what is termed “simple” can seem frustrating when it doesn’t go according to plan. However, you can rest assured that you’re almost halfway gone to finding the solution.

Step 1: Update Lightroom

If you’ve been unable to open your CR2 documents in Lightroom, chances are your version of Lightroom is outdated. Understandably, trying to keep up with these updates may seem tiring. However, they’re necessary to prevent issues like this.

An excellent way to understand this is to compare the quality of recent camera models with what was available in the past. It’s easy to appreciate the difference when comparing photo quality from decades apart. However, there are continuous technological improvements in the camera lens and image quality.

For instance, Lightroom 5 was officially launched in mid-2013 and may have been the rave then. Fast forward to sometime around mid-2021, Adobe had released several updates, with the 5.7 version being the latest at the time. Lightroom 5.7 opens files that Lightroom 5 finds impossible to open.

Step 2: Launch Lightroom

Once you’ve confirmed that there are no pending updates of Lightroom, proceed to launch the software. If there are, install a Camera Raw plug-in or make the update. It’s always worth it in the long run.

Launching Lightroom opens the program to its homepage.

Step 3: Proceed to Set Preferences

To ensure Lightroom easily opens your CR2 folder in the future, it’s best to carry out this step.

  1. Locate the Edit tab on the top right corner of the Menu Bar. It should be easy to find. It’s the second tab on the Menu bar.
  2. Navigate towards the end of the drop-down menu of the Edit tab and click on Preferences.
  3. This opens a pop-up menu with a list of options. 
  4. The Preferences menu default will show options for the “General” tab. Select it.

Step 4: Set Preferences for the General Tab

  1. Set the options on the General tab as “Show Import Dialog When A Memory Card Is Detected.” 
  2. Check the box in front of this option by clicking on it.
  3. Doing this would automatically cause an import prompt pop-up whenever a memory card device is plugged into the computer when you’re working with Lightroom.
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Step 5: Set Preferences for the File Handling Tab

  1. With the Preferences tab still opened, click on the File Handling Tab.
  2. Choose DNG as the preferred File Extension.
  3. Immediately underneath File Extension, select the Camera Raw compatibility version.

Note: You can select Medium Size in the JPEG Previews option. Also, uncheck or deselect the Embed Original Raw File. When done, click on the OK button to save the changes on Preferences.

Step 6: Proceed to Import the File

Now, you should be right back on Lightroom’s homepage.

  1. On the bottom left of your computer screen, you’ll see an Import tab; click on it. It opens a list of source folders where the photos are located.
  2. By clicking on the folder where the CR2 folders are located, all stored photos in that folder are displayed on the Lightroom homepage. 
  3. In addition, on the right-hand side of the photos, a File Handling menu is displayed.
  4. Click on the File Handling menu and select “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates.”
  5. Underneath this option is the “Make a Second Copy” option.
  6.  Click and check on it if you want a second copy by choosing a location where it should be saved.

Step 7: Confirm Import Options

  1. When all options have been clicked and selected, proceed to click on import.
  2. You would have successfully imported all chosen CR2 documents into Lightroom.
  3. Proceed to edit and successfully export the images when you’re done.

Opening Raw Image Files Without Updating Lightroom

When you need to open a CR2 file on Lightroom without going through the stress of updating Lightroom, there is a different approach. This other method is also as effective as the first, and you can use it to access CR2 folders.

Step 1: Backup Your CR2 Files

Before proceeding with this stage, it’s good to have a backup of your original CR2 files. This makes them available when you have a Lightroom version that can open them.

Step 2: Download the DNG Converter

To successfully open new Camera Raw files on older versions of Lightroom, you first need to convert them to DNG files. You can employ one of the several DNG converters to do this easily. Besides, Adobe also has a functional DNG converter tool you can use for conversion.

To start, download the chosen DNG converter compatible with your operating system. Once the DNG converter is downloaded, launch it and follow the instructions on the pop-up menu.

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Step 3: Proceed to Convert CR2 Files to DNG3

The DNG converter menu requires that you select the location of the CR2 files and also a location where you’ll need the converted DNG files to be stored. It also allows you to set the Preferences. This means you can set the DNG compatibility level and also the JPEG Previews.

Setting the JPEG Previews to Medium Size means it’ll load a lot faster on Lightroom when compared to larger file sizes. Once it’s all set, click on the OK tab to begin the conversion.

At the end of the conversion, your new DNG files can easily be imported into Lightroom from the file location they were saved into.

Note: If Lightroom still fails to open the DNG, you can increase the DNG compatibility level to the latest. This can be done when making DNG conversion.

Related Questions

Below, we’ve answered some other essential questions you may have relating to CR2 files on Lightroom:

Can You Edit CR2 Files on Lightroom?

Once a camera is supported, you can edit CR2 files on Lightroom. Adobe is constantly updating its software to be compatible with the RAW files produced by the most recent cameras.

How Do I Import Raw Files on Lightroom?

To import raw files on lightroom, attach a storage device inside your computer, then launch the preferences window. Then, select the “Import” options and choose the DNG file format. After that, select the file source and pick out the files, then copy them. Finally, create a collection of files and import the files.


As one of the highest quality image files, the CR2 file is an obvious choice for Lightroom. However, the file may not open on Lightroom because the version is outdated. You can easily fix this by following any of the two steps discussed in detail above.