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What Does The New “Local” Storage Feature in Lightroom ‘Cloud’ Actually Do?

When I did that post last week asking, “What would Adobe need to add to Lr ‘Cloud’ for you to switch from Lr Classic?” (link) beside the folks who said something along the lines of “There is nothing they could ever do to make me change!” comments, there was quite a bit of confusion around the new local storage feature that just got added to the ‘cloud’ version.

In short, it allows you to look at images and edit them in Lightroom ‘cloud’ without ever having to import them or upload them to the cloud. That’s a totally new concept for ‘cloud’, which always made you import them before you could work on them. They synced to the cloud as soon as you connected to the internet. So, this local storage feature operates kind of like Adobe’s Bridge application (if you’re familiar with it. If not, just forget I mentioned it).

A lot of folks either (a) didn’t realize this feature was even available, (b) if they did hear something about it, they didn’t quite understand what it does, or (c) both. So, today, we’ll quickly look at why it’s a really handy new feature (one I’d like to see added to Lightroom Classic) and what it won’t do.

Here’s a Typical Workflow Example

OK, you came back from a shoot; you copied your images onto your computer (or, if you’re like me, your external hard drive), and you want to find five or six images from this shoot. You don’t want to import all your images in Lightroom ‘cloud’; you don’t want to sync any images to the cloud; you just want to look through your images, find those five or six, and move on.

To do this, launch LR ‘cloud’ and click on the “Local” tab (shown circled here in red), and use the list below it in the left column to navigate to the images you want to look through. Again, these are NOT images you’ve already imported into Lightroom – these are the images you copied to your computer (or external hard drive), and when you click on the folder, you’ll see the images inside it (and the thumbnails appear super fast). Now, find the images you want to edit and just start editing them.

When you’re done editing, to save a copy of the file with your edits; go to Export (under the File menu) as shown here. Now, you can save it as a JPEG or whatever. If you export as a RAW image, your edits are saved in a .xmp sidecar file alongside your Raw file. If you save as a JPEG, your edits are embedded into the JPEG file itself.

If, instead, after editing some images, you want to import them into Lightroom and sync them to the Cloud, then press “g” to return to the Grid view; select the photos you want to sync to the cloud, and then click the “Copy Photos to Cloud” (shown circled above in red).

Even if you choose to copy these 3 photos to the cloud (In this case, it’s 3 anyway), there will still be a copy on your computer (or external hard drive).

What it won’t do:

As I just mentioned, if you edit the local copy, you have the option to copy that edited version to the cloud. However, once imported and synced to the cloud, if you edit the cloud copy, you DON’T have the option to copy those edits to the local copy.

I hope that helps make this new Local feature more clear; what it does, and what it won’t do.

Now, how ’bout those Bama boys! #RollTide! And, how ’bout them Bucs? Ugh. Oh well, there’s always next season.




  1. Normand Cloutier 29 November, 2023 at 13:17 Reply

    Hi Scott,

    Just made the switch last week. Mean reason being I thinks that Adobe, with that change, is telling us that the days of Classic are officially numbered as it doesn’t make sense for them two have two teams of employees supporting two version of what is now basically the same software. They probably waited all these years just to have enough people using the Cloud version so the ditching of Classic would not hurt them that much if the remaining people using Classic are not happy.

    But yes I had to change my workflow as I am still using and old Nikon D7000 that still works flawlessly but doesn’t have geotagging capacity. For that I have the App “Geotag Photo 2” on my cell.


    1) I Import on my DAS the pictures using the software “Nikon Transfer 2” and on import it changes the file names to the format I have being using for years and years: AAAA-MM-DD HH-MM-SS and then I geotag them in batch using Houdah Geo.

    And then I follow the same worklow than the one you describe in your article.


  2. David Schamis 14 November, 2023 at 16:22 Reply

    I have a pretty good story to tell here: short story – I have now ditched Classic and moved entirely to using Lr (though the vast majority of my photos are not in the cloud).

    I previously was using a PC with a ton of local storage (both internal and external – all in a RAID5 configuration). My photos are over 20TB at this point (I don’t delete – I know I have a problem but on the other hand I have had a few occasions where I have been very happy about not deleting). I also have a Synology NAS that backs everything up from the PC. From the NAS it then goes to the Synology cloud for further backup. This all worked but was very cumbersome and getting expensive. Also, the Classic catalog on my PC was running slow. Along the way I had twice tried to get a 10Gb card for my various PCs (once I installed it myself and once on the PC I bought from Puget). It never worked and I had lots of issues with 10Gb ethernet (whereas the 10Gb ethernet on the Synology always worked fine).

    When the Mac Studio came out I was very intrigued – super fast CPU/GPU and an onboard 10Gb network port. I finally took the plunge and bought the Studio. My plan was to access my files directly on the NAS from the Studio, thus eliminating a layer of complication – the local RAID device connected to my PC. This would save me money and aggravation over time (sync issues were always a concern).

    The idea was great but execution was a problem. The good news is that the 10Gb port worked great on the Mac. The bad news is that when I got everything set up it turned out that migrating the Classic catalog to the new Studio while accessing the photos on the NAS was a serious problem. Nothing was working right – and I mean really not working right.

    On Saturday I took a break from the morass of my basement office and shot two games – volleyball and football. On the way home I was scrolling through my podcasts and I listented to Matt K’s latest. To state the obvious, it was like they were talking directly to me. The key of course was the ‘Local’ tab.

    After listening to them I decided to take the plunge. I got home and did all my edits for the day in Lr (not on the cloud but locally). When I was done I sync’d the 100 or so edited shots to the Lightroom Cloud and kept the rest on my local drive. When I was finished I moved from the local drive to the NAS.

    More importantly, when I browse my NAS using the Local tab, via my 10Gb network connection, I am able to do what wasn’t possible in Classic. All of my photos are available to me, directly from the NAS, without needing another layer of local storage. And since I took Scott’s advice many years ago and converted all my RAWs to DNG (and still do), all the edits I have made over the years in Classic were embedded in the DNG files – they are all seen by Lr in the local browser tab.

    Now going forward I am using the Adobe DNG Converter to copy files from the memory card to the computer. I then make my edits to the newly created DNGs (including adding my keywords to all the photos) – sync the edited ones to Adobe Cloud, and then copy the whole folder to the NAS for safe keeping for eternity. I am not at all worried that my catalog might grow to 40TB or more (other than the Synology cloud storage costs, but that is another story). When I use Topaz I just save the edited files as TIFs on my computer, run them directly through Topaz and then drop them back into the original folder.

    Thanks to anyone who read all this – does anyone think I am making a mistake? Am I missing anything important?

    Thanks again,

  3. Jim 10 November, 2023 at 20:10 Reply

    This just adds to the S show that is Lightroom mobile as far as data management goes. Maybe it could replace Bridge????

    It’s a toy. Probably great for iPhone photographers. At 70-80mp file size for full frame cameras, Adobe’s cloud storage cost would be a fortune for just a single day’s shoot.

  4. Dennis Hess 8 November, 2023 at 15:01 Reply

    Scott – while the “not now, not ever going to LrC” responses didn’t segue into your local storage story, I think they expressed valid concerns. My question is what are you going to do with this information? If you have any influence with Adobe I think this information would be of interest to them. More importantly, is this enough to persuade Adobe to keep LrC around (and improving), or will it merely delay an inevitable termination of LrC support? Just as important, will Adobe be forthcoming about the future of LrC?

  5. Mike Worley 6 November, 2023 at 21:51 Reply

    GregC – no, it only works on the desktop version. I’ve mentioned to Scott and other that I definitely would like to see it incorporated into the iPad version since I’ve switched from the MacBook to the iPad for my ‘travel’ computer. It would definitely be nice to not have to upload all those images on the iPad or external drive to the cloud just to edit a few of them. I’ve run up against the file limit for Lr cloud storage a couple of times on trips and it’s not fun.

    • Tim Dalton 7 November, 2023 at 10:37 Reply

      Hi Mike – That’s a good idea. Seems Adobe could just expand the Device section on Lr iPad to include and show local and external drives too. Same set up as Lr Local on desktop. Which I am quite happy with. Should be easy peasy says the guy that knows nothing about coding.

      Seriously, This would be a nice addition. with moving to mostly using Lr on desk and iPad, the traveling stuff I worked on a couple weeks ago would have been even easier with this change. – Tim

  6. GregC 6 November, 2023 at 18:23 Reply

    Do you know if this works on the iPad version of Lightroom? This is one of the major hindrances for me editing my photos. I don’t need the cloud. I can manage my own photo database and storage amount.

  7. Randy 6 November, 2023 at 17:15 Reply

    Thanks, Scott. Just to clarify, if you choose to save the pictures to the cloud…you are saving the full-size file, not just the small, “smart” file that doesn’t count toward your storage limit…correct? (That’s why I don’t use LR-cloud as my primary…)


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