If you’ve got Lightroom CC or Lightroom Classic you’ve got an Adobe Creative Cloud account, and this means you can synchronise photos between the Lightroom catalog on your computer, your Lightroom online web space and your mobile device.
You can do this with either version of Lightroom, but Lightroom CC is built to do this from the ground up and stores your entire catalog online. With Lightroom CC, the synchronisation is automatic. You don’t have to do anything.
You can synchronise photos from Lightroom Classic, but only chosen Collections, not your whole library – and even then you can only sync lower-resolution Smart Previews.
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- How to synchronise photos with Lightroom Classic and Creative Cloud
The obvious advantage of the Lightroom Creative Cloud ecosystem is that you can access your library and edit images on mobile devices, not just your desktop computer.
What is less obvious, and what you may not even be aware of, is that you can browse your catalog in a web browser too, and carry out many organising and editing tasks in the browser window. This can be REALLY useful. You can also select and share Albums via a browser too, and even upload images to your library.
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01 Where is the Lightroom website?
You need to go to lightroom.adobe.com where you will see a home screen extolling the virtues of Lightroom and all the things you can do with it. What you need is the small Sign in button in the top right corner on the fixed menu bar at the top of the screen. You just use your regular Creative Cloud username and password.
02 Finding your way around
When you’ve signed in you should see a screen like this one, though Adobe’s online Lightroom features are being developed all the time, so don’t be surprised if it looks a little different. Currently we’re on the Home screen, where you’ll see our latest edits and Adobe’s community-powered Interactive Edits, where you can learn from other people’s editing processes.
03 Browse your Collections
To see your own photos, look for the four buttons arranged vertically on the left of the screen towards the top. You need to click on the Library icon – the one that looks like books on a shelf. This opens up a panel immediately to the right, which shows all the Albums and Folders you’ve created. You can view, edit and organise these in the web browser just as you would in the desktop or mobile apps.
04 Private vs Public Collections
When you create an Album in your Lightroom library, it’s private by default – but you can share albums with other people. To do this, select the album you want to share, then click the small Share icon in the top right corner of the window – the one that looks like a person. This opens the Share & Invite panel, where you can even let people leave comments on your photos.
05 Editing with presets
Lightroom’s online editing tools are cut down compared to those in the desktop and mobile apps, but they are still useful and they still synchronise your adjustments across all your devices. To edit an image, double-click its thumbnail. You can apply presets – the editing tools are in a vertical strip on the right side of the screen and you access the presets with third button from the top. This opens the Presets panel, and I’ve chosen the Turquoise & Red preset here. Online edits are slower to render than in the mobile or desktop apps, so if it looks like nothing has happened, give it a couple of seconds – don’t just keep clicking.
06 Manual adjustments
As with the desktop and mobile versions of Lightroom, these preset effects use non-destructive adjustments, and you can switch to the Edit panel to see what’s been tweaked and add your own manual changes as required. This is the first of the three buttons in the top right corner, the one that looks like a tiny set of sliders.
07 Ratings, flags and metadata
You can apply Ratings and Flags using the controls at the bottom of the screen, and if you click the Info (‘i’) button in the bottom right corner of the window, you can inspect the photo’s metadata and add a Title and a Description, for example. So for this image I’m going to make some adjustments to the exposure and white balance and add a title, then check that these changes are synced back to the desktop version.
08 Synchronised edits
And just to prove it, here’s our adjusted image back in Lightroom. This synchronisation is not quite instantaneous because it relies on your Internet connection and the response time of the Adobe servers, but it’s generally pretty quick – just a few seconds – because there are no big image file transfers involved and Lightroom online is simply sending metadata changes back to the desktop version.
09 Adding images online
Lightroom online has another trick, and it’s a rather good one. What if you’re at another computer and you want to add some images to your catalog? That’s easy – just click the Add button (the ‘plus’ symbol) in the top left corner of the screen to display the Add Photos panel. You can now simply drag and drop images on to this panel to add them to your Library.
So it’s THAT easy?
Yes, the Lightroom CC-Lightroom online-Lightroom mobile system is seamless and efficient, but it is of course dependent on network speeds. If you are uploading a large batch of images, it can take some time to transfer them all to the cloud, and for your other devices to refresh and for images to download for editing. If you do most of your work in the desktop app, you probably won’t notice, but if you switch to the mobile app it will take a few moments to catch up with the latest changes in the cloud.