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Storing my pictures on iCloud Drive

New Here ,
Jan 23, 2017 Jan 23, 2017

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I hope this is a simple question. Historically, I gave kept all my pictures in a "Lightroom" file on my hard drive.  It is getting quite large and I need to move it.  Sure, I can purchase an external hard drive but that ends up one more thing I need to carry. So I am wanting to use my iCloud to store my pictures.  I keep tons of other data there like my music library.

Can i "move" my Lightroom photo file(s) to iCloud and work with them fro there?

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

LEGEND , Jan 23, 2017 Jan 23, 2017

Lightroom cannot work with photos in "the cloud", so the answer is that NO you cannot work with your photo files in iCloud.

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LEGEND ,
Jan 23, 2017 Jan 23, 2017

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Lightroom cannot work with photos in "the cloud", so the answer is that NO you cannot work with your photo files in iCloud.

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New Here ,
Jan 27, 2017 Jan 27, 2017

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Thank you for the quick answer. Why can't I work with pictures in the cloud?  Why is the cloud any different than an external hard drive?

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LEGEND ,
Jan 27, 2017 Jan 27, 2017

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It is a restriction that is built into Lightroom. Why? I don't know, I didn't develop or program Lightroom.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 27, 2017 Jan 27, 2017

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The reason is simply that 'the cloud' is very very slow and very high latency at least compared to an external hard drive let alone a sad drive. So cloud providers cache everything on your local hard drive and then sync files for you in the background. This gives an illusion of immediacy but it really only works because it has local copies of everything. Lightroom works just fine with these systems but it doesn't solve your problem as your hard drive is still used. You can right now also use providers that give you mountable internet-based network drives. You can put images in those and use them from Lightroom. Expect it to be incredibly slow. Note that none of the services that people call cloud service (Dropbox, iCloud, amazon drive, google drive etc) work this way. They all make local copies.

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New Here ,
Sep 30, 2018 Sep 30, 2018

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Is this still true with macOS Mojave and High Sierra, both of which will happily offload files from a local hard disc?

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LEGEND ,
Jan 23, 2017 Jan 23, 2017

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Lightroom requires all the images to be stored on local drives (internal or external) or on a network drive.

The images don't need to be all in one spot. You can easily move some older photos to an external drive that is not always connected to the computer.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 23, 2017 Jan 23, 2017

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jak30022 wrote:

I hope this is a simple question. Historically, I gave kept all my pictures in a "Lightroom" file on my hard drive. It is getting quite large and I need to move it. Sure, I can purchase an external hard drive but that ends up one more thing I need to carry. So I am wanting to use my iCloud to store my pictures. I keep tons of other data there like my music library.

Can i "move" my Lightroom photo file(s) to iCloud and work with them fro there?

This won't help you at all as the iCloud folder like dropbox and other "cloud storage" systems stores a local copy of all those files on your hard disk so you won't gain any space that way. It will work but won't solve your problem. You need to get an external hard disk to move your images to. You can get super small super fast external SSD drives with USB 3 that you can just tape to your laptop with double sided tape if you still want to be mobile and not have a disk hanging off your laptop. Or if you want to not spend a lot of money, simple (but big) spinning external hard drives are dirt cheap nowadays.

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 11, 2022 Jun 11, 2022

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This answer is old.

Using Monterey Mac OS 12.2 and Licgthroom Classic 11.2 Ive been storing about 70Gb of photos and all the back ups on my iCloud. 

Since Yosemite everthing on the Mac drive (Desktop, Documents, etc) is duplicated on the iCloud Drive. I'm worling with LR CC 11.3.  

My workflow involved using an alias to the Photos floder in the hidden Library folder for importing iPhone photos.

Importing and syncing to folders on the iCloud drive have worked fine until LR CC 11.31.   The directories still work fine, but for some reason I cannot import from folders on the Desktop.  Exporting files to folders on the Desktop works. 

 17 Jun 2022

Jay

 

 

 

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LEGEND ,
Jun 12, 2022 Jun 12, 2022

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quote

This answer is old.

 

The answer has not changed.

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New Here ,
Jan 12, 2024 Jan 12, 2024

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This is very interesting to me because I use two laptops and ideally would like to synchronize them. I take the older one on the road and leave the newer one at my workstation at home. I am running 14.2.1 on both computers and had understood that iCloud stores the original file on my SSD plus backs it up to the cloud. If that's true I get the best of speed and a back up. If it's not true I won't be able to work as I had hoped. Please confirm. Thanks for the great dialogue.

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LEGEND ,
Jan 12, 2024 Jan 12, 2024

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You are Jumping into an old thread like this, and it seems that you are asking a different question than the rest of the thread. The question this thread was trying to address is can the photos in Lightroom Classic be stored in iCloud to save space on a local disk (and the photo then are not stored locally). Are you asking that question? I believe it has been answered. Or are you asking a different question? If you are asking a different question, please start a new thread.

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New Here ,
Jan 13, 2024 Jan 13, 2024

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Thank you. I was asking whether I could store my Lightroom Classic files in iCloud to create a back-up and share the files across devices. What I have learned from you and other Adobe collaborators, and from contacting Adobe directly, is that this is not possible. Adobe said if files are stored in iCloud they will suffer corruption.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 12, 2024 Jan 12, 2024

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I am running 14.2.1 on both computers and had understood that iCloud stores the original file on my SSD plus backs it up to the cloud. If that's true I get the best of speed and a back up.

By @marks80444158

 

Sort of. I have a few test images in my iCloud Drive folder that are in a test Lightroom Classic catalog, and it does work fine. But I refuse to rely on it, because what you described is almost, but not exactly, what happens.

 

Background reading:

How macOS Sonoma has changed iCloud even more by Mac expert Howard Oakley

 

iCloud Drive works like a lot of cloud sync services (e.g., Google Drive) in that if you move a file into its sync folder, it is synced up to the cloud, and, now the cloud version is considered the source, not the local file. This is necessary for reliable syncing: The cloud version is primary, and all synced desktop and mobile devices are clients with synced copies of the cloud version.

 

This affects your second point: The file on iCloud Drive is not a backup, it is now the source (what some programmers call “the truth”). If an instance of it is edited on any desktop and mobile client, those changes are synced up to the cloud source, and this updated “truth” is synced down to all clients the next time they connect. That is the other reason it is not a backup: If you screw up the original, the screwup syncs to the cloud and is synced down to all clients as soon as they connect. Too bad.

 

iCloud Drive does provide a feature that is a true backup: Document revisions (version history), where you can roll back to an older version. However, it is not supported in the Finder (yet), only by choosing File > Revert To > Browse All Versions from inside an application that supports that command. Very few do, and I can’t think of an Adobe application that does. So if you or an application screws up a file in iCloud Drive in the Finder and can’t undo, there is no backup there, the screwup syncs to all clients as soon as possible. I still maintain full local backups. (A Version History feature is in the cloud-based version of Lightroom, because like iCloud Drive versions, the version history is managed by that cloud server.)

 

Related: If you work with files in another location and for some reason (limited upload bandwidth, or you simply closed the laptop and carried it out the door while it was not done syncing your changes back to the cloud), when you get to the other location, if the Lightroom Classic catalog or any linked files did not sync completely, there may be problems like being unable to open the catalog due to an incomplete file. The bigger the size of your Lightroom Classic catalog, the more time it will take to upload it back to update its iCloud Drive source file.

 

If a Lightroom Classic catalog links to files in iCloud Drive, be aware that the actual file system path to iCloud Drive files is a folder that is not visible to users by default. iCloud Drive files are actually stored in

~/Library/Mobile Documents/com~apple~CloudDocs/

while most other sync services (Google Drive, Dropbox…) store files in

~/Library/CloudStorage/

So if you import Lightroom Classic-cataloged images in other applications that use file paths, such as video editors or page-layout apps, be aware that is how the link paths will be shown in those applications. Also, those paths leading into the hidden Library sub-folders are where the files will appear to be in the Folders panel in Lightroom Classic.

 

An important last point: The Optimize Mac Storage feature lets iCloud Drive save space on your Mac by only keeping “dataless” placeholders locally after upload, so that the cloud files are only downloaded on demand. I only mention this because some people want to use this feature to free up internal storage. But using this option will not work with Lightroom Classic, because it expects all linked files to be local all the time. Any files not present locally will be considered missing. This iCloud Drive feature obviously depends on the basic notion of the cloud being the source, not local, because it wouldn’t be possible if any client was considered the source truth. 

 

If you are OK with all of that, then go ahead and try it. I can see that it works with the few test files I have in iCloud Drive. But I am personally not willing to depend on it for everything…if I consider cloud access mission-critical, then I will use a solution actually designed for the cloud, not hacking a way around an application designed around files expected to be at local paths.

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New Here ,
Jan 13, 2024 Jan 13, 2024

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Thanks for your thorough reply. I am moved by your concerns and those Adobe informed me of yesterday. They said files stored in iCloud will suffer corruption, probably for some of the reasons you shared. I can't suffer this risk, so will continue to save files locally. Much appreciated.

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