The Photosmith App for Lightroom and the iPad

Earlier in the summer, Photosmith released version 3 of their iPad app for Lightroom. Photosmith was really the first on the scene with iPad/Lightroom interaction years ago, and I’ve always had the app installed on my tablet. But it’s not until recently that I really started using it to help manage my photos from Lightroom to my iPad.

What is Photosmith?
In a nutshell, Photosmith is an iPad app that helps you keep your photos organized, and helps bridge the gap between Lightroom and your iPad. Whether you’re going to import your photos directly to your iPad and sync them with Lightroom later – or you’ve imported them into Lightroom, but want to view them (or rate, tag, keyword, add copyright info) on your iPad, it helps you stay in sync.

How It Works
Overall, I have to say it’s really easy to use. There’s two components to the app. First, you purchase the app on the App Store. Once you’ve got the app installed on your iPad, you’ll need to download a plug-in that gets installed in the Plug-in Manager in Lightroom (under the File menu).

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Once you restart Lightroom, you’ll see Photosmith under the Publish Services panel in the Library module. From there, you simply create a collection of photos that you want to publish to your iPad, just like any other collection you’d create.

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For me, I create a collection of my favorite photos from any given photo shoot. Once you do that, all you have to do is click “Publish” and Lightroom sends them over to your iPad (you have to have both on the same wifi connection). Basically, it works very similar to some of the other publish services out there.

Once they’re on your iPad, you can do some of the basic Lightroom tasks like ratings, lables, changing/adding metadata and copyright info. And just like Lightroom, you can apply the changes to one photo or a bunch of photos at the same time. After you’ve made any changes on your iPad, you can sync your photos back over to your Lightroom library by clicking the Sync button, and all of the iPad changes you’ve made get pushed back in to Lightroom. Overall, it’s pretty simple and straight forward.

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What I’ll use it for?
For me, my iPad is a content consumption device. I surf the web on it, watch videos, read e-books and play Clash of Clans way too much ;) But I don’t typically “work” on it. My photos don’t originate there and to get them there is a pain in the neck. So after a photo shoot, I’m still bringing my photos on to my laptop and doing the basic selects, adding metadata and putting them in to collections there. So I probably won’t use those features of Photosmith much. But I do love the fact that it’ll keep my favorites synced up on my iPad and give me a ton of ways to share them from there (Dropbox, Facebook, Flickr, Email to name a few). I had the clunkiest workflow possible when it comes to getting my favorite Lightroom photos on to my iPad (partially Dropbox, sometimes just a simple email). With Photosmith I can make a collection in Lightroom (which is already a BIG part of my workflow), and always have my favorites from a particular photo shoot on my iPad. And it is nice to know that if/when I do make any rating or metadata changes to them on the iPad (which actually does happen, since the iPad is typically where I show the photos off and sometimes I make rating changes based on the viewers feedback), those changes will get pushed back up to my Lightroom library.

Well, there you have it. At version 3, Photosmith is definitely a solid app. Well tested and proven to work. The ratings are great, so I’m not alone either. Until Adobe comes out with some sort of Lightroom “app”, this is definitely one to check out. Have a great weekend!

Author: Matt K

Matt is a full time Education Director for the NAPP and Kelby Training. He's a best-selling author of various books on Photoshop and Photography co-hosts the live weekly photography talk show "The Grid" and is co-host of "Photoshop User TV". In his spare time he practices as a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo and enjoys spending time with his family in Tampa, FL.

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16 Comments

  1. Great review if a great app, I use mine by shooting raw and jpeg, upload the jpeg to the iPad, import into photosmirh, do all my tagging rating etc as Matt. Once home download the raw to pc, publish as Matt indicates and my keyword tags and stars sync over. It’s magic all that time sitting around on the train plane is used to such good effect without the need to lug your laptop round.

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  2. I’ve always been intrigued by this app, but am also lost as to how functional it would be with RAW files (particularly from a D800). Can’t really understand the JPEG/RAW workflow Andrew described above. How do the edits made to the JPEG from the iPad/Photosmith sync to the RAW on PC/Lightroom?

    For me I’m most intrigued about the ease of moving images between Lightroom and the iPad. I’m in the same boat as Matt – complete cluster**** when it comes to getting images on the tablet. Hate screwing around with iTunes, e-mail/cloud is a pain. Photosmith appears to offer the ideal solution of sync’d Publish Services and WiFi transfer. I could see myself creating a set of JPEGs sized for the iPad, bringing them back into Lightroom, and throwing them in the Publisher to sync purely for portfolio purposes.

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  3. I dont understand the wifi stuff about sending files from ipad to pc or pc to ipad with wifi??.? Mean i dont need to connect the ipad with usb cable to my pc? Dont see how

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    • Hi Martin – the only way I can explain is this. I don’t know how fuel injection works in my car… but it works, and I’m still okay using it ;-)

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      • Hi

        Will this app work with Smart Previews on LR5?

        Much smaller files……

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  4. I don’t want to perform any Lightroom tasks on an iPad, but given the apparent ease of transfer, is Photosmith a good way to show photos on an iPad — correctly sized and without any flags, ranking or icons? Or is there a better app for just that? Thanks in advance.

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    • Just giving Jack’s comment a bump. I’m simply looking for the best option for sharing a limited set of photos out of LR5 to my iPad3. Don’t need the editing capabilities, just want an good LR-savvy portfolio app.

      Any recommendations?

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  5. Thanks. I think I may give Photosmith a try. Like you, I primarily use my iPad as a consumption device and I’m in desperate need of finding a better workflow to get my favorite photos from Lightroom on my desktop to my iPad.

    Keep the tips coming. I know I’ll have a few questions for you when I come for your Lightroom 5 Live seminar in Ft Lauderdale later this year.

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  6. As a new iPad user, this app appears to solve the problem of how to get pictures from Lightroom to an iPad. Does it also provide a way to remove pictures from an iPad? After all, there is only so much room on an iPad to store pictures…

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  7. I’m not sure I see the advantage of Photosmith. My workflow is to export my favorite finished images from LR5 using a preset that I’ve created that is appropriate to iPad. I drop those files into albums I’ve created in iPhoto. Easy to arrange images in the desired order in iPhoto. When I launch iTunes, it automatically syncs/updates my albums from iPhoto – wifi or USB connection, either way. No fuss, no muss.

    Note: this is the ONLY reason I use iPhoto. Can’t stand it for anything but syncing to my iPad / iPhone. Don’t know if this is easier because I’m on a Mac. Can’t speak to this workflow for Windows users.

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  8. I am a new user to lightroom and am looking for a way to go on trips and be able to view my images on a device larger than my camera- but not as bulky as my macbook. I am thinking about an iPad but I shoot in RAW. I have noticed that there are apps to import RAW photos from the camera into the ipad. Has anyone tried them? I don’t want to make the hardware investment without some idea about how well the apps work. Thanks

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  9. I am just about to purchase an iPad and hope to use it for tethered shooting with either Lightroom facility or with Xtremetether – just wondered if anyone had experience of this and whether I’m choosing the best option? If I use Lightroom on the iPad then I can use Photosmith to sync easily enough I hope.

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  10. Thanks alot for this review.
    I searched for a slim workflow “LR-2-iPad” too. Atm i use the publish function in LR to develop and export my favorite shots to four/five folders on my local HDD. In iTunes i selected these folders to sync them to my iPad (USB, WLAN).
    The selected folders show up in my iPads “Photos” and will sync with every new photo, published from inside LR to my local “Transfer-Folders”.

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  11. Is this application working with iPad mini ?

    Thanks

    Daniel

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