4 Reasons Why Lightroom Can’t Read Your RAW Files

Adobe Lightroom is one of the most popular photo editing applications on the market, especially for professional photographers. However, some people run into an issue where Lightroom cannot read their RAW files.

If Lightroom cannot read your RAW files, there are four reasons you can look into to help you solve the underlying cause. Below, we’ll discuss these four common problems and how to remedy them. Keep reading to learn more!

Why Can’t Lightroom Read My RAW Files?

Most professional photographers choose to work with their RAW files in Lightroom to make more precise edits and achieve the highest quality possible before exporting their photos to another format. 

RAW files contain a range of metadata, including camera exposure and white balance settings, to give photographers more editing flexibility without compromising quality. In some cases, however, Lightroom won’t be able to read your RAW files. There are four reasons why this may be happening:

  • Your version of Lightroom is outdated
  • Lightroom doesn’t support your camera
  • You don’t have write permission for the folder
  • Your camera’s RAW format is not supported

Below, we’ll discuss how you can work around these four common problems and, hopefully, begin editing your RAW photos in Adobe Lightroom.

Your Version of Lightroom is Outdated

If Lightroom cannot read your camera’s RAW files, the first thing you should consider is the software version you’re currently running. If you haven’t updated Lightroom in a while, the Camera RAW version you’re using is likely too old to understand the RAW file format from your camera.

Follow these steps to update your Lightroom and Camera RAW versions:

  • Launch Adobe Lightroom.
  • Choose the “Help” menu.
  • Select “Check for Updates.”

If any new Lightroom or Camera RAW versions are available, download and install them. Then, try to upload your RAW files once again and see if you’re still experiencing the issue. 

Lightroom Doesn’t Support Your Camera

The last thing you want is to shoot some pictures with your brand-new camera, only to open Lightroom and find that the software cannot read your RAW files. Unfortunately, this is a common problem with new cameras.

It takes a while for Lightroom to catch up to all the new technology on the market. Check Adobe’s list of supported cameras, and see if you can find your model there. If not, you’ll need to wait for the company to update their photography software.

Luckily, Adobe usually updates this list monthly. If you don’t see it yet, there’s a good chance you will once the next Lightroom update rolls out. 

Until then, you have two options. You can change your camera’s settings to shoot in RAW and JPEG, then save your RAW files manually to your computer and upload your JPEG files to Lightroom. Adobe also offers a free DNG converter, which will allow you to convert your RAW image files into a Lightroom-compatible format.

You Don’t Have Write Permission for the Folder

Sometimes, the reason why Lightroom cannot read your RAW files is that the folder you’re trying to import your images to is not set to the right permissions. Luckily, there’s an easy way to fix this:

If you’re working with a Windows computer, open terminal.app and type in “diskuntil resetUserPermissions / ‘id-u’”. This will reset your write permissions and hopefully solve your problem.

If you’re using a Mac computer, follow the steps below to change your Lightroom permissions:

  1. Open your System Preferences.
  2. Select “Security & Privacy.”
  3. Press “Accessibility,” then open the “Privacy” tab.
  4. Make sure the box next to Adobe Lightroom is checked.
  5. Save your changes before exiting.

As long as you’re running the latest version of Lightroom and your camera is supported, you should no longer have issues opening RAW files.

Your Camera’s RAW Format is Not Supported

Another reason why Lightroom cannot read your RAW files is that the RAW format it shoots in is not supported. Although “RAW” is an available format on most cameras, different camera manufacturers use different types of RAW files. Sometimes, these file types can even vary from different cameras within the same manufacturer’s line.

Like with camera support, the only thing you can do here is wait for the next Lightroom update and hope your format will be supported in the future. You can also use the free DNG converter in the meantime, or shoot in RAW and JPEG and work with your JPEG files in Lightroom.

Final Thoughts

Shooting hundreds of photos and importing them to Lightroom, only to find out that the software cannot read your RAW files, can be incredibly frustrating. Luckily, there’s usually an easy fix to this problem.

You may need to update your software version, or you might need to edit your folder permissions. If the issue is caused by an unsupported camera or RAW file format, you can use Adobe’s free DNG converter or work with JPEG files until Adobe updates their photography software.