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Can You Install LrC and Lr on the Same Computer?

I was asked this question recently, and wanted to share my thoughts about the short answer, and the longer answer.

One caveat, this article and answers are directed at people who are primarily Lightroom Classic (LrC) users who are interested in also syncing their LrC catalog to the cloud. If you are primarily a Lightroom (Lr) user, then it really is simplest to just stick to using Lr on all of your devices and moving forward from there.

The Short Answer

The short answer often given to this question is, no, pick one or the other, stick with that, and don’t look back. I have given that answer in the past, and depending on the context, am likely to give it again in the future. Why? Because that is the simplest and safest direct answer when you don’t have the time or context to explain the difference between the apps, or what the heck is the Lightroom Ecosystem, and so on. Sometimes you only have one sentence, and picking one or the other is not bad advice for someone just starting out.

The Longer Answer

If the time and space allows, I’m happy to delve into the whys, hows, benefits, and pitfalls, but that is sometimes more info than the innocent person asking the question expects to receive. Over the past few years I’ve written a number of articles about these issues, and so, if you want the longer answer … here’s my take.

Sure, you can absolutely install and run both Lightroom Classic (LrC) and Lightroom (Lr) on the same computer. In this context you’ll often hear Lr referred to as Lightroom Desktop as if that somehow magically differentiates it from the original desktop app named Lightroom Classic, never mind, don’t get me started on the name thing again. But I digress …

In fact, I’ve always run them both on the same computer, as well as on different computers, plus my mobile devices. That’s the beauty of all of the apps in the so called Lightroom Ecosystem in that each is like a dummy terminal view into the work stored in the Lightroom cloud. Here are some additional benefits to installing Lr on your Mac or Windows computer:

So, if those are the benefits, what are the downsides? Well, the big one is accidentally ending up with a duplicate local folder structure of full resolution photos. If you are to do this, then first rule of Lightroom Club is that LrC seeks its “truth” locally (meaning the catalog and photos it refers to are all stored on locally accessible hard drives). The second rule is that all full resolution photos in the cloud will automatically download into LrC. The third rule is that LrC has no way to upload full resolution photos to the cloud. And the fourth rule is that while Lr has the ability to store a copy of all photos locally, its “truth” is always in the cloud. I told you this was the longer answer.

By default, the Lr app does not store copies of your photos locally in a way that you can access from outside of Lr. But, if you are only using the Lr ecosystem, there is a preference you can enable to say, hey Lightroom, could you also store a locally copy of all imported phots in addition to everything stored in the cloud?

My advice to all LrC users who wish to try installing Lr on the same computer as LrC is to leave that checkbox unchecked. Why? Because you already have a local copy of all imported photos in LrC. Yes, you should have a local backup system in place, but this is not it.

Furthermore, while we’re looking at that Local Storage panel of the Lr Preferences, you might want to dial down the size of the photo cache. By default, that is set to 25% of your remaining disk space. That’s probably way more space than a LrC user needs because you’re only using Lr as a window into the cloud, not as your primary photo editing tool. I’ve dialed mine down to 5%. This way the Lr app has a relatively small footprint on my computer, and I can still take advantage of all the benefits I mentioned above. So, that’s my take. What do you think? Do any of you use these two apps together on the same computer? Any other benefits or pitfalls worth mentioning?

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6 comments

  1. Renzo Odorico 7 June, 2021 at 16:05 Reply

    Hi
    Just wondering why it says I have used 422.8 megabytes of cloud storage, yet when I check Lightroom it says I have zero photos in zero albums?

  2. Jesper Vasell 6 June, 2021 at 01:17 Reply

    I am a LrC user, but I use Lr on my iPad and my iPhone. For some use cases, such as being somewhere without network access with high quality and relatively high bandwidth, Lr is quite useless. I do mostly travel photography and wildlife photography and I am based in Nairobi, Kenya. It means I do frequent trips to various national parks and other locations. It would have been very useful to be able to use just Lr on my iPad while travelling and import my photos on it. This would give me a first backup and I would then rely on syncing the photos from Lr on the iPad to LrC. The syncing doesn’t have to happen until I get home. The benefits of this would be the backup, possibility of editing and sharing some photos while travelling, and automatically getting the photos into my LrC once I am back home.
    Unfortunately, syncing the photos after a trip, even at the network at my home, is painfully slow. We are talking several days for a couple of 32GB memory cards worth of photos.
    Note that I have a decent network connection at my home in Nairobi, so I’m not relying on hotel wifi which can vary significantly in quality. Network access quality is not just a matter of bandwidth, by the way. In my experience, even when I’m on really good networks, the syncing to Lightroom is sloooooooooooow to the point of making it useless, in one of the use cases where having a small form factor device like an iPad and the excellent Lr app would be a major advantage.

  3. Craig Beyers 3 June, 2021 at 14:29 Reply

    I, too, have been a LrC user since the original beta and use only LrC on my computers. That said, I do use LR on my iPhone and iPad. I take photos with the phone, edit—sometimes—and eventually move the photos to my mass storage. I use LR on my iPad to show people photos, but never use the iPad camera. Occasionally I’ll access LR on the web, but see no reason to use both versions on my computers.

  4. Eric 3 June, 2021 at 12:20 Reply

    It’s hard to believe that a company who – like all companies – has the goal of maximizing profits developed – and sticks with – such a confusing “ecosystem” and naming conventions. I find it nearly impossible to turn the average person on to LR (any LR) anymore because they’re confused, either immediately, or soon after getting started when they realize they’re using the ‘wrong’ version for their needs. I was in with the very first beta (back when it was Adobe Photoshop Lightroom) and honestly even I’m confused about how it all fits together now (I’m a firm LrC user and leave it at that). Hasn’t it occurred to anyone over at Adobe that they have two (more? I dunno!) amazing products that nonetheless leave people scratching their heads?

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