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Tips for Syncing Lightroom Classic with Lightroom for Mobile

There are a few important, but really easy to miss settings in both Lightroom Classic and Lightroom for mobile that make using them together much more successful. Let’s take a look.

Auto Import

The first setting I use is located within the Lightroom for mobile app. I’m using it on an iPhone, but this works on both mobile platforms. Within the Lightroom for mobile app I designated one album (collection on Lightroom Classic) to be my “camera roll” that collects all of the photos I take with other camera apps on my mobile device. The goal for me in this situation is to configure this album to automatically add any new photo that hits my device’s camera roll to Lightroom for mobile.

This way all photos taken on my mobile device eventually, and automatically, make their way back to my Lightroom Classic catalog (and the computer running Classic).

The key to setting this up is to enable Auto Add from Camera Roll on that album. To do that, simply tap the 3-dot menu next to that album and toggle the switch to the on position.

From that point forward, any newly added photos to my device’s camera roll will automatically appear in the Lightroom for mobile app.

Lightroom Sync Preferences

Going hand in hand with that option is a preference setting back in Lightroom Classic. Head over to Lightroom > Preferences > Lightroom Sync (Edit > Preferences on Windows).

Then head down to the Location section and configure the location on your system where you want photos synced from the Lightroom ecosystem to be stored locally. Because any full resolution photos you import into Lightroom for mobile are uploaded to the cloud and then downloaded through Lightroom Classic, it helps to be in the driver’s seat for where you want them to go.

In my case, while I store the bulk of my photo library on an external drive, I designate a folder on my internal drive for these synced photos because my external drive is not always connected. Then I periodically use Lightroom Classic to move the newly synced photos to my external drive, which both moves them and retains the connection between the photos and the catalog.

Filter Synced Collections

The last tip is about finding all of the collections (albums in Lightroom for mobile) that are currently being synced from Lightroom Classic. Because collection sets (folders in Lightroom for mobile) are not synced, it is easy to end up with synced collections spread out amongst your various collection sets, and just looking at the parent collection set doesn’t indicate if it contains synced collections.

Luckily there is a simple filter that will reveal all of your synced collections regardless of what collection set they may be located within. You just have to find that filter, and it is well hidden.

If you look closely at the Filter Collections field at the top of the Collections panel you may notice there is a magnifying glass icon hiding in there (you may need a magnifying glass to see the icon). If you click that magnifying glass icon it will reveal two options: All and Synced Collections.

All is checked by default, which means all of your collections and collection sets are visible. If you click Synced Collections you will reveal all of the collections that are marked to sync, which can make it much easier for you to manage them over time.

Happy syncing!



  1. John 5 November, 2019 at 14:28 Reply

    What am I doing wrong, I don’t have a “Sync with Lightroom” in my create collection dialog, there are no sync symbols next to it. What am I missing? I’m logged in in my LR classic.

    • John 5 November, 2019 at 14:51 Reply

      Never mind, found out how to turn it on.

      In the main screen next to the LR logo on the upper left I see my name with a small drop down triangle. There I had to hit “start” for the online sync to activate it.

  2. Kevin Wong 2 July, 2019 at 10:04 Reply

    I recently created a new catalog in lightroom classic, confirmed i wanted to update the sync with lightroom cc. The latest lightroom cc/lightroom classic interface confirmed collections from lightroom cc would pull down from the cloud.

    Yesterday after half the photos/collections were downloaded, there was a bug and the sync stopped. I’m trying to resync and I’m having an issue where syncing photos are shown in blue in the top left of lightroom classic, but there is not movement. I’ve logged in an out of CC, shut down, restart, confirmed all software is up to date. Notsure what is wrong. Any tips would be appreciated.

  3. James Barton 28 June, 2019 at 08:55 Reply

    This is very useful- it has helped to keep all of my photos on my main machine after I do a quick edit of one or two pics as a preview on the way home from taking photos for an event client.

  4. Terry Rogers 14 June, 2019 at 23:51 Reply

    Help! Since upgrading to the latest Classic LR on my year old MacBook Pro, I have lost the option of choosing which collections to sync to LR Mobile. Prior to this time, I could choose which collection to sync by clicking the small arrow on the left of the collection header. Now, every collection is automatically synced to LR Mobile and I really do not want that to happen. I want what I want in LR Mobile, not what Adobe wants
    me to have in there. Is there please a way for me to interrupt automatic syncing from LR Classic to LR Mobile and allow me to choose which collections I wish to sync, and to not sync other collections. Many thanks for your assistance.

    • Rob Sylvan 16 June, 2019 at 12:12 Reply

      When you create a new collection, make sure the “Sync with Lightroom” box is unchecked. Uncheck the box to the left of any collection you no longer want synced.

  5. CherylT 15 May, 2019 at 10:44 Reply

    Rob, THANK you for this article. I’m just evolving to using LR CC on my ipad and was trying to wrap my head around the whole workflow. It’s not too often one finds someone who’s geared the same way you are, but you seem to think the same way I do; so your workflow is spot on for me! again THANK you! My question now regards Collections/Albums. I’ve not used them much, but it seems I’ll be getting all too familiar with them using LR CC. Before I jump in and try to not reinvent yet another wheel, do you have any basic guideline or place to start or killer tip on getting started with Collections? They always seemed to be just another layer of organization to muddy the waters, to me. I’m an old-school “organize-by-folder-date” kind of gal.

  6. Ellie 26 April, 2019 at 10:16 Reply

    I’ve already imported some iPhone photos — is there any version of “Don’t import suspected duplicates” that I could use with your workflow? The photos I’ve imported are not limited to specific dates, locations or other discrete categories and, of course, I have way too many pictures on my phone and already imported to just import all and figure it out later.


    • Rob Sylvan 26 April, 2019 at 10:45 Reply

      Hmmmm … You could skip using Lightroom CC to import your iPhone photos and just directly connect your phone to your computer and use Lightroom Classic’s Import dialog to get the don’t import suspected duplicates option. Once imported into Lightroom Classic, you could then sync all of your iPhone photos with Lightroom CC by putting them all in a synced collection (this would only upload smart preview versions of those photos). Once that is all done, it might prevent Lightroom CC from importing any of those photos from the camera roll once you enable Auto Import, but I honestly don’t know if it would work that way. That’s the best I can think of.

  7. Alec Dann 12 April, 2019 at 23:54 Reply

    Great post, Rob. This is a great workflow.

    To respond to Nilesh on the question of Collections, you can create a device-based collection using Smart Collections. You would use a criterion like Camera > contains > “iphone” which will bring all your iphone photos in regardless of model number.

  8. Victor 11 April, 2019 at 16:23 Reply

    Combined with your recent article in the Lightroom magazine, this is a fantastic workflow for getting photos off the phone and into Lightroom Classic with all my photos from my camera..

    One challenge remains however – whilst the photos will be automatically deleted from Lightroom CC (Mobile) when you remove them from the All Synced Folders collection, the ones that were originally taken with the iPhone camera still remain in the iPhone camera roll and have to be deleted manually from there. I assume there is no way around that?

    I hate my camera roll having lots of photos in it – prefer to have everything in one place (Lightroom Classic!), and sync back processed, quality phones to my iPhone in collections (albums) on Lightroom Mobile for viewing on the iPhone.

    • Rob Sylvan 11 April, 2019 at 18:08 Reply

      Yes, you do have to manually clear out the device’s own Camera Roll (after those photos have imported into Lightroom CC, then downloaded to Classic). This is one of the side benefits of switching to the camera in Lightroom CC for new captures, as those photos aren’t saved to the device’s Camera Roll.

      • Ellie 26 April, 2019 at 10:08 Reply

        Before the Lightroom Camera opens on my iPhone Lightroom displays “loading photos” for several seconds, long enough to loose several shots. It doesn’t matter how I initiate the camera (long press, Lr menu etc) or how recently I opened and used the camera (even if I haven’t closed the camera, just switched to another app or stopped using the phone for long enough for it to sleep. Is there any way to avoid the loading photos delay? Thanks!
        (I’m using an iPhone 7plus, ios updates current as are Lr on the phone and Lr Classic on my desktop)

        • Rob Sylvan 26 April, 2019 at 10:41 Reply

          Unfortunately, I can’t replicate the “loading photos” message you are seeing on my iPhone 7+ (same updates as you). Not sure what is happening in your situation.

          • Ellie 28 April, 2019 at 00:24

            Thanks for trying. It takes about 30 seconds to finish “loading photos”. Maybe I’ll try Apple.

    • Josh Hogan 20 April, 2019 at 21:40 Reply


      Another solution is to create a Shortcut on the iPhone that will automatically import all photos in the iPhone Camera Roll into Lightroom and then delete the pictures off of the iPhone. It wouldn’t be automatic, but it’s something you could run with one click and everything else is automated.

      • Rob Sylvan 21 April, 2019 at 08:41 Reply

        Just turning on Auto Import in Lightroom for mobile does that without the shortcut, and doesn’t involve any clicks (aside from the one needed to set it up). Wouldn’t bother with the shortcut. The problem he’s trying to solve i how to remove the photos from the camera roll after import into Lightroom. That’s going to be a manual process, but not a big deal.

  9. Nilesh 10 April, 2019 at 08:28 Reply

    Can you have different devices synced to LR classic and can they be called different t names. I.e. iPhone collection. iPad collection. And I presume they all have to go on The same folder on your drive

    Thank you

    • Rob Sylvan 10 April, 2019 at 08:54 Reply

      Within the Lightroom mobile ecosystem all albums (collections) are kept in sync. You can set them up however you want, and put whatever photos you want in those albums, but all the synced albums will appear on all mobile devices. Any photos imported into the Lightroom ecosystem will be downloaded to the same location you designate in Lightroom Classic (based on how I describe in this post).

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