LR009 - Use LR/Classic and LR/CC together on same images (7/2018)

July 08, 2018  •  1 Comment

How to use Lightroom Cloud together with Lightroom Classic

01 LR Blog xxx-01 Marry 101 LR Blog xxx-01 Marry 1

January 2019 update.  Added section on what is and isn’t synced between LR/Classic and LR/Cloud eco-systems, including how to re-sync keywords from Classic to Cloud

August 2019 update.  This past spring Adobe once again changed the names of things but everything in this blog still applies.  The screen shots are from LR7 but work the same with LR8.  I will use the term “LR/Cloud” to mean the old “LR CC Mobile”, the not quite as old “Lightroom CC” and the latest name of just plain “Lightroom”, in other words the cloud based Lightroom eco-system.  I will use the term “LR/Classic” to refer to the current “Lightroom Classic”,  the older “Lightroom Classic CC”,  Lightroom CC/2015 and LR7.  None of this article applies to versions LR1 through LR6 which were all non rental versions without sync capability to LR/Cloud.


Adobe Lightroom (LR) has been around for a dozen years or so.  Over the years it has become the de-facto standard desktop application for the management, editing, publishing, printing, and showing of images.  During the same time period, the mobile revolution was also taking place where much of what used to be done on a desktop or laptop computer is now being done through apps on mobile devices such as tablets and mobile phones.  And with the advent of better and better cameras inside phones and tablets, this revolution includes the realm of photography.

With Release 6.0 of Lightroom (LR6) in May 2015, Adobe tackled this mobile market by introducing Lightroom Mobile and if you bought into the rental version of Lightroom with Lightroom CC 2015 at that time you could use your mobile device to see and perform some rudimentary edits to your desktop based images.  But, the goal of Adobe was to totally replicate on mobile devices everything (within reason) you could do on the desktop with real time sync between your devices.  As they moved further and further into this new seamless mobile world they discovered that to make it really work the way they envisioned, they needed a different architecture than was in use with the tried and true desktop version of Lightroom.

Thus a new architecture was introduced in October of 2017.  This is an entirely cloud based architecture with a totally new look and feel that is more conducive to small screens and can work the same on all platforms with real time, or delayed, sync across all devices.  This they called Lightroom CC (or Cloud Based Lightroom) when it was introduced and is now called just Lightroom.  I’ll call it “LR/Cloud” to differentiate it from “LR/Classic”.

However, LR/Cloud has yet to fully provide all the functionality as LR/Classic.  In addition, the new LR/Cloud eco-system has several negative points for high end or high volume photographers.  Because of this, at the same time as the introduction of the LR/Cloud they also came out with the next logical version of the Desktop oriented version of LR which was Lightroom Classic or LR7.  This has since been updated to the LR8 version of LR/Classic and by the time you read this there may have been further updates.

In other words we have two Lightroom eco-systems.  One is desktop oriented (LR/Classic) and the other is Cloud based (LR/Cloud)

So, here’s what we have (as of summer 2019):

  • In the desktop based eco-system we have LR/Classic (LR8) which is the full featured product that has evolved over the past 12 or so years.  In this world your images and the database (catalog) that is used to manage and edit those images are stored on your local desktop or laptop computer and you access it through a desktop program.

    LR/Classic – Develop Module
    02 LR Blog xxx-02 LR702 LR Blog xxx-02 LR7
  • In the new cloud based eco-system (LR/Cloud) we have cloud storage, a new desktop application (called just Lightroom Desktop), a web based application usable with most standard browsers, and we have mobile apps for phones and tablets.  All of these applications are rooted in stuff stored in the Adobe cloud so whatever you do is momentarily visible and usable on all the other devices in the cloud based eco-system.

    LR/Cloud desktop App showing the “light” adjustment panel
    18 LR Blog xxx-03 LR CC Desktop App18 LR Blog xxx-03 LR CC Desktop App

    LR/Cloud mobile Phone App showing the same “Light” panel as above
    03 LR Blog xxx-04 CC-Mobile03 LR Blog xxx-04 CC-Mobile

    LR/Cloud Web browser version of the App
    19 LR Blog xxx-05 LR CC Web App19 LR Blog xxx-05 LR CC Web App

If you forego the features and functionality of the desktop LR/Classic program that are not present in the LR/Cloud eco-system and don’t have tons of images you can embrace the new LR/Cloud eco-system and be very happy. 

However, if you need or want the full functionality of the LR/Classic desktop version or would have to pay for more cloud storage space to house all your full size images in the Adobe Cloud, you can get the desktop centric Lightroom Classic instead. 

Adobe rents the full LR/Cloud based eco-system with 1tb of Cloud storage for $9.99/month.  They also rent the LR/Classic version of LR bundled with the full LR/Cloud based eco-system as well as Adobe Photoshop and 20gb of Cloud storage also for $9.99/month.

But, what is not as well known is that you can in many ways mix the two eco-systems.  And that is what I’m going to talk about today.  If you combine the two you have the best of both worlds.  First of all you have the full functionality of LR/Classic when you are on a regular computer.  But in addition, you can identify groups of images that you want to participate in the LR/Cloud eco-system such that they are available through a web browser, the LR/Cloud desktop app, a phone or a tablet.  And, all of this automatically sync’s back and forth so what you do in one, is automatically replicated in the others.

Let me state though that this article is not how to use the new LR/Cloud based eco-system applications.  Rather it is how to set up the desktop based LR/Classic system and the new LR/Cloud applications so they can replicate back and forth automatically.

By the way, Adobe does not push this capability as it seems they really want people to embrace LR/Cloud hole-hog and wean off of LR/Classic altogether.  However, until such time as the Cloud based eco-system matches the full functionality of LR/Classic and a few other storage issues are ironed out, high end amateurs and professional photographers will stick with LR/Classic.

Using LR/Cloud along side of LR/Classic

With the technique I’m going to describe, you still use LR/Classic as the hub of your photo world.  This means that you will still store our original images (master images and RAW files) on your desktop or laptop computer and your desktop/laptop Lightroom Classic Catalog will still be the master source of information about your images and changes you’ve made to those images.  This is different than the Cloud based eco-system where ALL your original master images are stored in the cloud, and a database in the cloud (they are calling the Library) is the master source of information about those images including changes to those images.  If you are a prolific shooter, keeping your masters on a drive connected to your local computer will be much faster and cheaper than keeping them in Adobe’s Cloud but for more casual shooters the cloud may be all that is needed.

But, with a few steps you can designate groups of images on your desktop Lightroom Classic that you want to also be part of the Cloud/Mobile eco-system.  Your original/master images stay on your local computer, but smaller versions of selected images get synced to the Cloud and once there can be accessed, viewed, and manipulated by all the applications and tools in the Cloud Based eco-system with changes made there being replicated back to your local version of LR/Classic.  In other words you can marry the two.

What is not synced

As of the January 2019 addendum to the original blog, Adobe is still verifying that certain things are not synced between LR/Classic and LR/Cloud based systems.  All image adjustments (develop module in LR/Classic and Edit section of LR/Cloud) are synced but some metadata is not synced. 

NOT SYNCED between LR/Classic & LR/Cloud:

  • Folders:  The cloud based eco-system does not use folders
  • Collections:  Collections you sync with LR/Cloud become Albums in the LR/Cloud eco-system.  However, collection sets do not sync from LR/Classic to LR/Cloud and album hierarchies in LR/Cloud do not sync back to LR/Classic
  • Publish Services:  The cloud based system does not have Publish Services
  • Stacks:  While image stacking is available in both eco-systems, stack participation does not sync
  • Video:  Video’s only get a one time sync from LR/Cloud to LR/Classic (not the other way around)
  • Location: Other than GPS coordinates, Location metadata does not sync
  • Keywords:  Keywords are not synced in either direction.  However, due to an unplanned and unsupported quirk in the way Adobe programmed it, when an image that does not have a Smart Preview is first added to a Classic collection that is synced to the cloud and changes have been saved to the image file (or XMP side car file), the Keywords associated with that image in classic are migrated to the cloud ONE TIME. *

*  If you need to re-sync keywords from Classic to Cloud, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the image(s) from ALL synced collections in LR/Classic
  2. Discard any Smart Previews those images may have had in LR/Classic
  3. Save unsaved Metadata to the image file (or XMP side car file – Adobe will decide if the changes go to the image file or an XMP file).  If your catalog preference is set to do this automatically you can skip this step.
  4. Assure that image(s) are now missing in the LR/Cloud eco-system
  5. Put image(s) back into synced collection(s) in LR/Classic

More details can be found here

How to do it

Let’s start with your local version of LR/Classic.  This will also work with any of the rental versions of LR/Classic including Lightroom CC-2015) and Lightroom 7, but not with the standalone (non rental) LR6 version or any of its predecessors.

Step 1 – Decide which images to sync

The first thing you need to do is decide which images you want replicated in the cloud centric system – in other words in the new “Lightroom” which I’m calling LR/Cloud.  Each image you decide to include will have a reduced size copy stored in the cloud.  However, these reduced size images will not be counted against the storage limit of your plan.

Step 2 – Decide if you want them in groups

Now decide if you want to see these images on your other devices as just one long photo stream or if you want to also divide them up into logical (or even illogical) groupings called albums.  These groupings or albums can be anything you like such as a trip, an event like a wedding or subject oriented.  It is really up to you.  Either way, on your devices, you’ll be able to see all your photos at once in one big photo stream and if you create albums you can also just deal with one album at a time.  In either case you’ll be able to sort the images by various criteria including date so there is little need to make albums for different dates unless you want to reduce scrolling.  BTW, the same image can be in multiple Collections in LR/Classic or multiple Albums in LR/Cloud.

Step 3 – Create Sync Collections in LR/Classic

In LR/Classic, create a Collection for each album you want to have on your mobile devices if they don’t already exist.  If you wish you can create “Collection Sets” which act like parent folders for collections.  To create a collection or collection set, click the “+” at the right end of the “Collections” panel title bar and select either “Create Collection” or “Create Collection Set”.  In either case you’ll get a pop up dialog box in which you can provide a name.

04 LR Blog xxx-06 create collection04 LR Blog xxx-06 create collection

If you already have a Collection Set and wish to place a new Collection or another Collection Set under it, right click (Ctrl+Click on Mac) on the Collection Set and the new item will be placed under it.  In the screen shot below, I have already created a Collection Set called “LR/Cloud sync’d” and will be adding Collections within it.  In this example the collection I’m creating is “LRM Western Canada”  (I started the name with LRM just so I’d know it was a Collection designed to hold “LigrtRoom Mobile” images).

05 LR Blog xxx-07 Create Collection05 LR Blog xxx-07 Create Collection

I then added several more collections to the Collection Set as shown below

17 LR Blog xxx-08 Collections in sets17 LR Blog xxx-08 Collections in sets

NOTE:  Even though we can create Collection Sets in LR/Classic and you can create Folders for Albums on the LR/Cloud side, Collection Sets do not automatically become Album Folders and vice-versa.  You’ll have to do that manually if you want your Albums to be in folders in the LR/Cloud eco-system or your Collections to be in Collection sets in LR/Classic.

NOTE:  These must be Regular Collections.  This will not work with Smart Collections.

Step 4 – Populate your Collection(s)

Once you have Collections in LR/Classic just drag images from your grid or filmstrip to the appropriate collection(s).

Step 5 – Sync your Collections to the cloud

First make sure that Lightroom is signed into your Adobe Account which it probably already is.

In LR/Classic you designate specific Collections for sync.  Again this will only work if you have one of the Rental Plans that includes Lightroom, not with the standalone products such as LR6.  Any regular (not smart) collection you desire can be sync’d to the Adobe cloud and will become an Album in the LR/Cloud eco-system.  To designate a collection for sync, just click at the left end of the collection name in the Collections Panel.  This is a little double headed arrow.

07 LR Blog xxx-09 Sync Icon07 LR Blog xxx-09 Sync Icon

Or, you can right click on the collection name and select “Sync with Lightroom”

06 LR Blog xxx10 Sync context menu06 LR Blog xxx10 Sync context menu

Once clicked, the double arrow icon stays visible.  Clicking it again turns sync off for that collection and removes that album from the LR/Cloud eco-system.  The images remain in the LR/Classic collection you just stopped syncing and they remain in the LR/Cloud “All Photos” section or any other LR/Cloud Album they may have been in.  It is just the one LR/Cloud Album that you stopped syncing that goes away.  To remove the image from LR/Cloud altogether, remove the image from the LR/Classic “All Synced Photographs” special collection in the Catalog Panel.  You may want to read this paragraph again.

Step 6 – See if it is working

As soon as you designate one or more collections for sync, the sync process will start assuming you are logged into your Adobe account.  To check click the down arrow to the right of the identity plate (if you haven’t changed the identity plate it will say “Lightroom”).

20 LR Blog xxx-11 Plate Pull Down20 LR Blog xxx-11 Plate Pull Down

One of the items in this pull down list, will reference the status of sync.  If is says “Start” click on “start” to get it going

08 LR Blog xxx-12 Start08 LR Blog xxx-12 Start

At this point it may ask you to provide your Adobe user ID and Password again.

Once it is running this pull down will show the status including your remaining space in the cloud, a pause button to temporarily suspend the sync operation, and a status note

09 LR Blog xxx-13 running09 LR Blog xxx-13 running

LR/Cloud Eco-System Apps

Once the selected images finish syncing, those Collections will become Albums in the Cloud and can be accessed using the LR/Cloud desktop app, the LR/Cloud web browser page, or any of the LR/Cloud mobile apps. 

I should point out a very important feature.  Any changes you make to images that are part of the LR/Cloud eco-system, on any platform, using any of the Adobe apps will replicate to all other platforms and apps.  For example, if I bring up one of these images on my phone and crop it, that crop will sync to all other platforms and devices including my desktop LR/Classic.  And any change I make to any of these photos in LR/Classic will replicate the other way.  So, be careful what you do on, say, your phone as those changes come back to your LR/Classic system. However, see the section of what doesn’t sync earlier in this article)

LR/Cloud Web Browser Page for your synced albums

Let’s start with the LR/Cloud browser page. Go to URL  If you are not logged in from a prior session it will again ask you for your Adobe user ID and Password.  Once you supply those you’ll see the LR/Cloud browser application.  The “All Photos” shows all the images in the LR/Cloud eco-system segmented by month, most recent first.  To see an individual album click the album name in the left panel

10 LR Blog xxx-14 Web All Photos10 LR Blog xxx-14 Web All Photos

LR/Cloud Desktop App

In addition to the Browser app, there is a desktop app (program) in the LR/Cloud eco-system that will run on PC’s and Macintosh computers.  This program is installed via the Adobe Creative Cloud program (circled below).  For reference, as it can get confusing, the LR/Classic icon has a pale blue border with square corners.  The LR/Cloud icon has a turquoise border with rounded corners.  Install the LR/Cloud software as you would any other Adobe software through the Adobe Creative Cloud program.

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The Desktop application for LR/Cloud (as opposed to LR/Classic) has a user interface similar to the other apps in the Cloud Based eco-system and has way fewer features than the LR/Classic version.  But, for the most part the features it does have can also be found in the other LR/Cloud eco-system apps.

LR/Cloud Desktop App
21 LR Blog xxx-18 LR CC Desktop App21 LR Blog xxx-18 LR CC Desktop App

LR/Cloud Mobile Device Apps

They also have apps for Apple and Android tablets and smart phones.  While the specific layout on screens for each platform and device may be subtly different due to screen size limitations the functionality is for the most part the same on all such platforms and devices.

Android Phone LR/Cloud app
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Create LR/Cloud folders for your Albums (if desired)

Below the “All Photos” section (shown here in the LR/Cloud Web Browser page) are your Albums (which are your synced Collections from LR/Classic).  Initially these will just be in a straight list.  The Collection Sets you may have created in LR/Classic do not sync with the LR/Cloud.  If you’d like to group your LR/Cloud albums into sets you will be creating what LR/Cloud calls “Folders” in this context.  Folders contain one or more other folders or albums.  To create one, click the “+” sign at the right end of the “ALBUMS” title bar and select “Create Folder” and give it a name.

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This will create a new folder at the root of your list of albums.  Now you can either just drag the album into another folder building a hierarchy.  In the example below, I have a folder called “Asia” and it contains an album for Japan.  There is also a folder for North America that contains a folder for United States but also contains albums for Western Canada and Cuba.

12 LR Blog xxx-16 folder hierarchy12 LR Blog xxx-16 folder hierarchy

Any changes you make to LR/Cloud folders or Albums will replicate across all the LR/Cloud eco-system apps but only album name changes will come all the way back to LR/Classic where they will rename your collection.

LR/Cloud Offline Viewing & Editing

As you have seen, the LR/Cloud eco-system is cloud based.  This means that all the information and images reside in the cloud.  Not on your LR/Cloud devices.  When you want to look at them, your LR/Cloud app goes to the web and retrieves the information or images, transmits them down to your device and shows them to you.  This may not be desirable as it consumes your data allowance on your Mobile Phone Plan and there may be occasions where you don’t have a connection to the internet on your phone (like you’re in another country, out of range, or on an airplane).  There are some settings to help control this problem.

Store LR/Cloud Images Locally On The Device

If you wish to be able to see and edit images when your device is not connected to the internet, those images must be stored on the device (in addition to being in the Cloud).  You can select specific albums on each LR/Cloud device whose images you wish to store locally on the device.  Again, if you store an album locally it is a copy of what is in the Cloud.  The Cloud version is still kept and is still considered the master version for the LR/Cloud eco-system.  However, if the images are also stored locally, it allows you to view and edit them even when you have no network connection.  Unfortunately there is no global setting for this.  You have to set each album separately.  For each album click the icon to the right of the album name (3 vertical dots).  Then click the circle to the right of “Store Locally” so the dot turns blue and moves to the right.  Repeat for each desired album.  If you have many such albums, it is best to turn this on for only a couple at a time then wait for those albums to be replicated on your device before doing the next couple.  It’s also smart to make sure your device is connected to the Internet through a WiFi connection as copying loads of images to the device can cause a lot of data to transfer.

15 LR Blog xxx-20 Store Local15 LR Blog xxx-20 Store Local

If you look at an album name on your device, you will be able to tell if it is stored locally or not by a little down arrow in the bottom right corner of the album cover image as shown below.  If the down arrow is there, then the album is store locally.  If you have locally stored albums, and you are offline when you make changes to images in that album, those changes are queued; and will sync with the cloud the next time you have connectivity.

16 LR Blog xxx-21 Store Local 216 LR Blog xxx-21 Store Local 2

LR/Cloud Sync over Wi-Fi Only

If you want to conserve your cell phone plan data allowance, set LR/Cloud to sync over WiFi only (not your cell service data plan).  You’ll have to do this on each device you use for LR/Cloud.  On your mobile device, click on the Menu icon (3 horizontal lines usually at the top left of the screen that shows your albums).  Then select Preferences and lastly make sure the “Use Cellular Data” is off (circle is white and at the left end of its two positions).  If it is blue and to the right then LR/Cloud on this device will use your Cellular network for syncing if WiFi is not available.

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LR/Cloud Use SD card for Storage

Unless you choose to keep local copies of your images, using internal storage for LR/Cloud is just as good as using the SD card.  However, if you choose to keep local copies of many images, your internal storage may not be big enough.  In this case getting a large SD card for your phone or tablet is many times a better option.  Most such devices can take SD cards up to 128gb which is a fair amount of space – especially since it’s only storing smaller versions optimized to the device screen size.  To get LR/Cloud to use the SD card instead of internal storage, click the menu icon (3 horozontal lines) then select “Device Info & Storage”.  Click the circle to the right of the “Use SD Card” line so that the circle moves to the right and turns blue

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Pictures taken with mobile device

So far, we’ve been talking about replicating your LR/Classic images into the LR/Cloud eco-system and then allowing changes made in either eco-system to replicate to the other.  What we haven’t talked about yet is how to handle images that originate on one of your devices.  For example you use your Mobile Phone camera to take some shots. 

In this scenario, we would like our cell phone image to find its way into LR/Classic on your desktop or laptop computer.  This is not all that difficult to achieve. 

Step 1 – Set the destination folder in LR/Classic

When we take a photo with our device the goal is to have it find its way through the Cloud based eco-system and wind up in a folder on our desktop/laptop computer and show up in Lightroom Classic.  In order for this to happen, LR/Classic must be informed as to where you want it to put images that get passed to it from the Cloud based eco-system.  In most cases these will be images taken with a mobile devices but could be other images as well.  The default is a folder in you computer’s “Pictures” or “My Pictures” folder which may or may not be to your liking.


If you want to change the folder LR/Classic uses, there are a couple of steps.  Let’s start with the physical folder on your disk drive where you wish LR/Classic to place such images.  First create the folder where you want it using Windows File Manager or Mac Finder.  Then in the “Lightroom Sync” tab of the Preferences dialog there is a checkbox and “choose” button for “Specify Location for Lightroom’s Synced Images””  Check the box and click the “Choose”  button.  When you click the “Choose” button you’ll get a Windows File Manager or Mac finder box.  Navigate to the desired folder and click “Select Folder”.  You could also right-click (Mac: Ctrl+Click) on a folder in the folder panel in LR/Classic and select “Set download location for Lightroom Images synced with Creative Cloud” (you may have to add the folder to LR first).  I recommend having a dedicated folder for this.


25 LR Blog xxx-25 Default Folder for CC images25 LR Blog xxx-25 Default Folder for CC images   26 LR Blog xxx-26 Default folder 226 LR Blog xxx-26 Default folder 2

Step 2 – Take the picture with your mobile device

Now just use the Lightroom Mobile App to take the photo rather than your default camera app that came with the phone (there’s a way to have all taken images enter the LR eco-system as well but this blog is already getting pretty long).  Use the Camera Icon at the bottom right of the LR/Cloud screen to take the picture.

01 LR Blog xxx-11 Camera01 LR Blog xxx-11 Camera

After you take the shot, LR/Cloud on the mobile device will upload the image to the Adobe Cloud at which point it is visible to all other LR/Cloud eco-system apps.  A few moments later (or the next time you’re running LR/Classic) your LR/Classic system will notice the new image(s) and will automatically import them into LR/Classic and in the process copy them to the designated folder.  I have a Pixel 2 phone (2018) and am able to capture RAW images this way.  They come into LR/Classic as DNG file format.

Once the image is in your LR/Classic system, it is just like any other image imported from a camera.  This means you can drag it to a more appropriate folder if you wish.  For example if I’m out shooting Mt. Lassen with my DSLR’s and in the middle take a few shots with my phone, I’d probably drag the phone photos into the same folder as the rest of the images from that “shoot”.  After all, I’m already shooting with 2 DSLR’s so the phone is just a 3rd camera.

Step 3 – Images taken with the phone’s camera app

If you have taken photos with a camera app other than the LR cameram (for example the camera app that came with your phone), either before you started all of this or after, you may want some or all of those photos to migrate to the Adobe Cloud and LR/Classic. 

In the LR Phone app, on either the Albums screen or while looking at any one album or the All Photos album, at the bottom – next to the camera icon – is an “add photos” icon.

01 LR Blog xxx - 27 Add from Camera Roll01 LR Blog xxx - 27 Add from Camera Roll

Click that icon and the LR/Cloud app will show you your camera roll images sorted by date.  Tap or select each photo that you want to add to the LR/Cloud ecosystem and a check mark will appear in a little circle in the upper corner of the image thumbnail.  Once you’ve selected the images click the “Add” button at the bottom right.  This will add those images to the LR/Cloud ecosystem and in turn they will also be downloaded to LR/Classic and added to the catalog as if they had been shot with the LR/Cloud camera.



What we’ve done here is to marry the two Adobe Lightroom eco-systems such that we still have the power of LR/Classic and for images of your own choosing have the convenience and flexibility of the new LR/Cloud eco-system.  Best of both worlds but I sure wish they’d add two way sync of keywords to the mix.

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Dave W(non-registered)
Thank you! Terrific article.
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