Lightroom integration with iCloud to export / import photos

New Here ,
Apr 17, 2016 Apr 17, 2016

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I'm currently using Apple Aperture and considering changing to Photoshop Lightroom but have a question about importing and exporting photos from iCloud. There's been a few similar questions posted but so far no answers.

Here's what I really want to accomplish (which are all supported in Aperture):

1. If I take photos with my iPhone or iPad they are configured to automatically upload the photo to iCloud. This means that when I startup Aperture the next time it automatically downloads all photos taken on either of these iOS devices into the Aperture library.

2. Aperture also allows me to select photos in the library (which I may have edited or touched up) and "share" them to iCloud similar to how I can share photos to Facebook or other online services. One major benefit of this is that I can view my photos from iCloud on my TV with my Apple TV.

Based on on these two use case scenarios can someone who's familiar with PLR give some advice as to how these would be solved?

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LEGEND ,
Apr 17, 2016 Apr 17, 2016

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In general, there is no integration between iCloud and Lightroom.

To Import photos into Lightroom, they cannot be in "the cloud". They must exist on a local disk (internal or external), camera card, USB thumb drive, or network drive.

To export photos to iCloud, see

http://www.barnabyrobson.org/2012/08/26/tutorial-export-from-lightroom-to-icloud-photo-stream/

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New Here ,
Apr 17, 2016 Apr 17, 2016

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So can you only publish to online services? For example are you you saying that you wouldn't be able to copy a photo from your Facebook photos directly back into Lightroom?

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 17, 2016 Jun 17, 2016

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Hi,

I am currently testing Lightroom CC and have stored the LR catalog and all images on my iCloud drive. It seems to work nicely. This means that I can have access to the catalog from different Mac devices (I thought). Do you foresee and problems with this set up?

Per

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Community Beginner ,
Sep 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016

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This is exactly what I am interested in doing. Let me know how it works for you.

The one concern I have is that if Lightroom Desktop is open on multiple machines, then the catalog is likely to have conflicting changes.

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Enthusiast ,
Apr 17, 2016 Apr 17, 2016

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Lr is a solution oriented more toward regular cameras rather than an add-on to an iPad or iPhone camera. Perhaps Apple's Photos would be more useful to you since it would do what you seek to accomplish.

Apple's iCloud and/or iCloud Photo Library is pretty much limited to Apple's own applications.

Lr can import photos from an iPad or iPhone attached to one's laptop or desktop. And can publish to most online services as well. And Lr can send photos to an iPad or iPhone via Lr Mobile as well, but it's designed to go in that direction: from Mac OS TO iOS.

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New Here ,
Apr 17, 2016 Apr 17, 2016

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I probably gave the wrong impression of the typical types of photos that I manage in my collection. The vast majority of my photos are taken with a DSLR which I import directly from the camera's memory cards. Only a small fraction get taken with the iPhone.

Technically the Photos app on my Mac would address the synchronization issue but it would be a huge step down from Aperture so it's not an option. Right now I only see Lightroom as the best option for the day that I move away from Aperture.

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Enthusiast ,
Apr 17, 2016 Apr 17, 2016

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Sorry; misunderstood.

On FB, you wouldn't be able to copy a random FB photo into Lr without first downloading to somewhere local and then importing (not very hard to do BTW).

But it they are YOUR FB photos, as in you posted them, presumably you have the originals already. Lr has a built in publishing service to send stuff to FB. And Jeffrey Friedl has an even better publishing service plugin. But there isn't a corresponding automatic action going in the opposite direction (nor was there one in other applications like Photos or Aperture).

FB is also different than say Flickr or Smugmug and most other sites in that you can't update photos. If I publish to Flickr Lr keeps track of that photo, so if I tag a face or crop it then a simple republish command sends those changes on to Flickr. But again that's publishing, not synching per se; I wouldn't edit the photo in Flickr and have those changes sent back to Lr.

Lr, like most DAMs, even Aperture, presumes local storage. Your big DSLR RAWs and whatnot are there, and you publish edited versions to disks, online services, printers, etc. Or send them via synching and Lr Mobile to iOS for viewing and light editing. But it doesn't work off cloud storage directly.

Note that I said Lr can publish to disk too. I publish to a NAS that also connects with my HDTV so I can view images there. I also publish to a set of folders that Photos references. I don't ever do much with them, if anything, in Photos, but Photos then syncs those JPEGs. I also use Mylio to directly sync images to mobile devices, and Mylio interacts directly with Lr, so if I change an image to BW on my iPad that will synch to the image on my Mac in Mylio and then in Lr as well.

In short, if you intend to use cloud storage as the primary place for photos organized by Lr, fergeddaboutit. But if you want to publish to online sources, it works fine.

Maybe if we knew more about the anticipated workflow; this probably sounds more complex than it really is.

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New Here ,
Apr 17, 2016 Apr 17, 2016

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My typical workflow is as follows:

  • I shoot exclusively in RAW on my Nikon DSLR and all images are imported into Aperture onto the local internal hard disk.
  • Cropping and some colour correction is done
  • Ratings are applied to my favourite images
  • Tags are applied to categorize the images by topic
  • My favourite photos are then uploaded to my photo web site on SmugMug (http://photos.excellentadventure.ca)
  • I upload many of my images on SmugMug up to my iCloud account. This is mostly to have the photos accessible from my Apple TV as it is not able to access SmugMug.

Today I downloaded the trial version of LR and have been trying it out for the past few hours. I'm going to import a few thousand images from my Aperture library. I think that getting the hands on with LR is really the best way to answer a lot of my questions.

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Enthusiast ,
Apr 18, 2016 Apr 18, 2016

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That workflow should work just the same with Lr.

Smugmug has an Lr publishing plugin; I think now you have to download it separately from Smugmug. Jeffrey Friedl has one you can try as well: Jeffrey Friedl's Blog » Jeffrey’s “Export to SmugMug” Lightroom Plugin. I haven't used the latter, but his Flickr plugins and other publishing plugins have IMHO been better than the others.

I use his collection publisher plugin to publish to that NAS I mention that I view on my HDTV. Dunno what options ATV has these days to view images, but if it can view local storage that might work for you as well. One con to Lr is that many Mac OS applications can't reach into Lr's catalog to see adjusted images (some can though, like Fotomagico or Comics Life). But with storage so cheap now I find just as easy to publish a bunch of JPEGs to that NAS for local use for stuff like that, and you can even import them into Photos for just that purpose (I hate Photos for organization, but for this use it works fine). I had a friend who used Lr's web tools to make galleries locally he accessed via his ATV, but I don't recall how he did that.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 17, 2016 Jun 17, 2016

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I'm a bit surprised that in the various replies there wasn't more mention made about LRmobile, which is available as part of the LR subscription version (in fact LRmobile is free to all users, but the important syncing part is only available to LR subscribers).

Although it's still very much a work in progress, I use it quite extensively (more than I originally anticipated). All pictures that I take on any of my iDevices are automatically added to a designated synced collection on that device as soon as I start the app. The app then syncs the new pictures to Adobe servers, and from there they will sync back down to LR on the desktop and LRm on any other iDevice that you have signed into.

For all those images that I take/have taken with my DSLRs I have created a variety of collections which I then enable to sync. These are uploaded to the servers, and then automatically downloaded to my iDevices....so as well as pictures that I've taken with the iDevices, I've also got my best DSLR images on the device as well. LRmobile is also a powerful image editor as well, and of course all changes made to a synced image either on LR desktop or LR mobile will sync to all the other signed in devices.

But as well as the above, all synced collections are also automatically available in any browser using LR WebView, and of course the URLs of these collections can be shared (from desktop or mobile), so friends/clients can view/review the images and (if they have an Adobe account) they can "like" and "comment" on them. Any such "likes/comments" will appear in LR desktop. You can now also edit images via LR WebView.

It's starting to get pretty slick, and well worth looking into. There are still some frustrations (lack of local sync, lack of metadata entry such as keywords in LRmobile, smart collections cannot be synced), but for effortless syncing and sharing of pictures - including those taken on phone or tablet - it works well for me.

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New Here ,
Jun 06, 2018 Jun 06, 2018

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I saw where you posted a question regarding LR and Photos integration with regards to using icloud.  Did you ever resolve your issue?   I have all Apple products and use the cloud.  I have now had to purchase Lightroom/Adobe because using RAW camera files, Photos can not handle their processing and continues to crash (Apple is aware and is working on a solution).  BUT I don't want to also have to purchase Lightrooms Creative Cloud service since I already have icloud, have 6K photos stored there, and share frequently with my family/friends.   I was considering importing camera files to LR with an option (if it is there)  of keeping the photos on my computers HD.  Then editing/deleting the photos while they are still on my harddrive.  THEN somehow exporting them back into Photos, which will save them in the cloud.   What have you done to solve your problem--since your post question was from 4/2016 and it didn't seem to ever get an answer??? 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016

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Lightroom mobile does an awful lot of what you want to do. It is very easy to get stuff on the cloud with it and you can edit images on your iOS or android devices. There is a great appleTV app for it that allows you to run slideshows and such from your collections etc. only disadvantage of Lightroom mobile is that contrary to apple's solution, it will only sync to a single desktop Lightroom account and that you need a creative cloud account. Apple's solution breaks down really quickly though because of limited cloud space. What's really great is that LR/mobile will now allow you to shoot raw files on some recent phones. They sync directly to your desktop.

Lightroom works really well with SmugMug using the standard publish plugin that smugmug makes available. I use it to publish my entire smugmug site. Smugmug is working on an appleTV app so you would be able to directly access your smugmug galleries similar to how you can access galleries on iCloud on your appleTV now.

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Community Beginner ,
Sep 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016

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What about running lightroom desktop on multiple machines (i.e. a macbook and a desktop)? Any experience syncing over iCloud drive?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016

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There are a few people doing this over dropbox. My guess is that it would be the same for iCloud. caveats clearly apply in that you have to be very diligent in closing Lightroom on one computer and allowing time for syncing before you open the catalog on the other machine. There is a significant potential for corruption. I'd also be worried about bandwidth limitations. My own catalog file is GB's large. My previews take 50Gb or so. Many broadband providers have data limits that you can easily run into if you're constantly syncing GBs of files.

The very best solution to this is still a small portable SSD drive with catalog and images on it. These are credit card size nowadays and plug into a USB3/firewire/USB-c port and give you very fast performance. This works perfectly and without any concerns over bandwidth, catalog corruption, etc.You can do the same thing with a big thumb drive which would be even smaller.

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Community Beginner ,
Sep 24, 2016 Sep 24, 2016

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This is very helpful, Jao. Thanks so much for helping me think through this puzzle!

Don

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Contributor ,
Mar 22, 2022 Mar 22, 2022

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I've used this approach before (keeping Lightroom Catalog on a small portable SSD drive: Samsung T7 Touch 2 TB) for years, until changed to one-computer-setup a year ago with M1 MacBook Air.

The approach worked, but I hated having to attach the portable SSD drive on-the-go where the risk for error is most promenant (sitting on a train coming home from a gig, for example). So when M1 MacBook Air came I switched my 2013 iMac and 2015 MacBook Pro 15" to one-computer-setup in M1 Macbook Air.

Now that Mac Studio is available, I bought it (for extra memory, performance and better multi-display support at office) but have run into this multiple computers setup problem again, and thought I could just start to use the M1 MacBook Air as an external drive for the Mac Studio, and keep Lightroom Catalog on the M1 Macbook Air. But, I can't, as Apple Silicon Macs won't work in Target Disk Mode anymore to make one Mac available as an external drive to other Mac. You only can "Share Drive" which makes the other Mac shown as a network drive (ia SMB, I'm told), and Lightroom won't accept network drives for Catalogs.

So, I'm considering either:

1. Go back using a small portable external SSD drive (my Samsung T7 Touch) and attach it to the Mac you are using, or...
2. Start using Dropbox (or iCloud Drive) to keep my Catalog file and take the risk of syncing issues, if I forget to close Lightroom on the other Mac.

I came here to look for experiences. I don't know what to do!

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