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Don’t Make This Lightroom Keywording Mistake

If you’re a Lightroom Classic user like me, here’s a heads-up on something you’re likely to run into if you’re also using Lightroom on your iPad or phone, etc.

If you add keywords to a photo (or a bunch of photos) in Lightroom Classic, and you sync that collection of photos over to Lightroom on your iPad or phone, those keywords will NOT go over to your mobile device. Same for adding keywords on your mobile device – keywords you add on your mobile device won’t sync back to Classic. Ugh.

Above: Lightroom Classic keywording panel with a bunch of keywords that won’t appear in Lightroom on your phone.

Q. But Scott, if I add a Title or Caption to my photo, that info sync over to my mobile device. It’s just text – why don’t keywords (just text) sync over?

A. Lightroom Classic supports hierarchical keywords, but Lightroom on your phone (including Lightroom ‘cloud’ desktop) only supports a flat keyword structure.

So, in short, keywords you add in Lr Classic stay in Classic. Keywords you add in Lr on Mobile, stay on Mobile. They don’t sync back and forth (if you use Lr Cloud, you can add keywords and they sync to mobile, but again, it’s a flat keyword structure – not hierarchical).

Just wanted to give you a heads up so you don’t pull your hair out.

Have a great Monday, everybody (hey, it could happen). 😉




  1. Andrea 16 July, 2022 at 06:33 Reply

    So how do I select in Lightroom CC all the images that I’ve already backed-up in Classic in order to remove them from the Cloud and free my 20GB of space?

    My idea was to apply a specific keyword “desktop” to the images in Classic and use it as filter in Lightroom Mobile to find the images to delete.
    But keywords don’t sync between the two ecosystems….
    It seems to me that they design it on purpose to force you into buying more cloud storage.

  2. Thyra 3 February, 2022 at 05:44 Reply

    Hi Rob,

    your are right!

    But even if it makes the topic more complicated this one time transfer of keywords from LR Classic to LR mobile is worth mentioning here.

    The article says that nothing happens at all.

  3. Eric 31 January, 2022 at 11:43 Reply

    Hierarchical keywords are maybe the biggest reason I simply cannot use Lr “mobile”. I have thousands of keywords including down to the species level for every animal I’ve ever photographed.

    And this seems to be a conscious decision on Adobe’s part to NEVER support real keyboarding on the “mobile” software. In fact, they would prefer you don’t use keywords at all and just use Sensei to find what you are looking for.

  4. Eric Wessman 31 January, 2022 at 08:53 Reply

    I can report the same results as Thyra, but don’t use hierarchical keywords. It’s the main reason for me not to use LR in the field. Any chance Adobe will address this?

  5. Thyra 31 January, 2022 at 04:08 Reply

    Just tested it with the most current versions of LR Classic and LR Mobile (iPhone and iPad):

    My keywords ARE syncing from LR Classic to LR Mobile, BUT the hierarchy is lost and the hierarchical keywords from Classic appear as flat entries in LR Mobile.

    However, keywords added in LR Mobile does not sync back to LR Classic. They only sync between other versions of LR Mobile.

    • Rob Sylvan 1 February, 2022 at 11:40 Reply

      Keywords applied in LrC do not sync to the Lr cloud, nor do they sync from Lr back to LrC. There is a strange, one time, uploading of keywords (in a flat list) from LrC to Lr IF you apply the keywords in LrC, have LrC write from the catalog back to the photo’s own metadata, and then sync the photo to Lr. However, from that point forward no changes made to the keywords will sync between the programs, and I don’t expect that to ever change.

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