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LR file flow path

Explorer ,
Apr 25, 2023 Apr 25, 2023

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I need to understand where my image files travel after downloading from my camera SD card into LR on my iPad, and what happens if I make edits to any of these on my iPad.

Are the Originals stored on my iPad or the LR Cloud?

Are they automatically transferred into LR Classic in due course as Originals in a Collection on my Mac desktop?

When are they added to the Catalog (I only work with one)?
How do any edits I make on the iPad get to the Catalog?

What are the files that are added to the nominated folder for Synced images in LR Classic Settings?

 

My old brain is struggling with the logic involved. Any help, a link or a flow chart would be much appreciated.

 

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iPadOS , macOS

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

Community Expert , Apr 25, 2023 Apr 25, 2023

For Lightroom on iOS/Android, and the web and desktop (not classic) versions of Lightroom, the cloud is primary storage, and the Lightroom apps on all devices are basically terminals that connect to and cache from that. So any photos you add to Lightroom on iPad are uploaded to Lightroom Photos in the cloud as quickly as the available Internet connection allows. After they finish safely being uploaded, they may be purged from the iPad cache especially when space gets low. If you edit any, those

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Community Expert ,
Apr 25, 2023 Apr 25, 2023

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For Lightroom on iOS/Android, and the web and desktop (not classic) versions of Lightroom, the cloud is primary storage, and the Lightroom apps on all devices are basically terminals that connect to and cache from that. So any photos you add to Lightroom on iPad are uploaded to Lightroom Photos in the cloud as quickly as the available Internet connection allows. After they finish safely being uploaded, they may be purged from the iPad cache especially when space gets low. If you edit any, those are downloaded back into the local cache on the iPad until you are done. All edits are always uploaded to cloud primary storage whenever an Internet connection is available. There is no “catalog” in the Lightroom Classic sense, because even the local edit data on the iPad is synced up to and cached from the primary storage in the cloud.

 

iPad storage may get low if many photos are imported and the available Internet conection cannot upload all of them to cloud storage faster than new images are added.

 

Now, the picture changes a little if you want to hook all this up to Lightroom Classic. You can sync one, and only one, Lightroom Classic catalog to your account’s Lightroom cloud storage. When you enable syncing from one Lightroom Classic catalog, and it connects to the cloud storage, it downloads everything it finds up there that is not already downloaded. This is because Classic wants to store all originals locally.

 

Lightroom Classic downloads all cloud originals to the designated Lightroom Classic sync download location (Peeferences / Lightroom Classic / Sync Location). It may be simplest to set this to the same location you use in the Import dialog box. This way, all images imported from anywhere end up in the same set of folders. After Lightroom Classic cloud originals, because they are now stored locally you can now back them up to other local storage.

 

Edits you make anywhere in the Lightroom system sync to anything else signed into that system. iPad edits will sync back to the Lightroom Classic catalog, edits to the same images in Lightroom Classic will sync back up to the cloud where the iPad can pick them up. There are a few exceptions, such as keywords.

 

For images in the Lightroom Classic catalog, only collections marked for syncing are uploaded, and only Smart Previews (not original files) are uploaded for editing on other devices. For Lightroom Classic, local storage (not cloud) is primary storage.

 

That’s a lot, but it summarizes how everything works. If you need more detail on each subject, a resource other than Adobe Help is the Lightroom Queen website. She has written detailed ebooks on both the cloud and Classic versions of Lightroom, although not everything might have a diagram.

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Explorer ,
Apr 26, 2023 Apr 26, 2023

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Thanks so much for your explanation. That helps immensely.

My primary aim in my transfers of images from the camera is to get them into LR Classic on my desktop after a trip and then to only have the Smart Previews in the cloud for the images I put in my Collections.

Should I be concerned with clearing out Originals uploaded from the iPad or phone, from the cloud and how do I do that? Where can I see what may be there on the cloud servers? 
Also, from what you describe, Classic will pick up copies of the Originals sent to the cloud from my iPad together with any editing information I may have made before they migrate to Classic?

And any edits made to images on my iPad, in albums made from collections in Classic on my desktop, are collected by the Smart Previews in the cloud and then get back to the desktop collection images?

Sorry if I seem obtuse, but my mind takes a bit to clarify on the details.

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Community Expert ,
Apr 26, 2023 Apr 26, 2023

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OK, first thing to say is that you are not obtuse. The way this works is not obvious to most people. It’s a little convoluted only because Lightroom Classic was designed long before cloud-based software became common, so Adobe says there are aspects of the older code that prevent it from being fully integrated into the newer Lightroom cloud ecosystem in a way that is intuitive to us. So we all have to think it through, I do too.

 

quote

My primary aim in my transfers of images from the camera is to get them into LR Classic on my desktop after a trip and then to only have the Smart Previews in the cloud for the images I put in my Collections.

By @kanumbra

 

Sounds good, it already mostly works that way. You add images to Lightroom on your iPad, Lightroom syncs them up to the cloud, Lightroom Classic syncs them down. After you confirm that Lightroom Classic downloaded the original files safely to your local computer storage, the one additional step you want to take is to delete the cloud originals specifically from All Synced Photographs (in the Catalog panel). That will leave the originals at your computer.

 

Now, to leave just Smart Previews of them on the cloud, I think that requires syncing them back up from Lightroom Classic. Because you already mentioned using Collections, that’s good…when sync is re-enabled for those collections they will upload Smart Previews. Re-syncing those photos up does add a step, but maybe someone else knows a shorter way to delete a cloud original from Classic while leaving a Smart Preview. This is an area where I feel a little obtuse about it.

 

quote

Should I be concerned with clearing out Originals uploaded from the iPad or phone, from the cloud and how do I do that? Where can I see what may be there on the cloud servers?

By @kanumbra

 

The definitive way to see what is on the cloud is to open any of the (non-Classic) cloud Lightroom clients (desktop, phone, tablet, web). Because they all look at the cloud storage only, they show exactly what you have on the cloud, nothing more, nothing less. If there is something on the cloud that you don’t need there, you should delete it. Deleting it from Lightroom Classic folder view (not All Synced Photographs) deletes it from local storage and cloud. If you delete an image from any cloud client, and Classic has already downloaded it, you will have to also delete the downloaded copy from the Classic catalog.

 

In a cloud Lightroom client like on the iPad, you can tap a file’s cloud icon to see whether the cloud has an original or a Smart Preview.

 

quote

Also, from what you describe, Classic will pick up copies of the Originals sent to the cloud from my iPad together with any editing information I may have made before they migrate to Classic?

By @kanumbra

 

Photo edits, yes. Those are bidirectional. It doesn’t matter where you edit, Classic or any cloud client, the edits will be synced up to the cloud and down to all other clients. It is totally OK to edit photos on iPad before or after Lightroom Classic downloads them, edits sync in the background as you work. The key feature of Smart Previews is that they are proxies small enough to use less network resources, but contain enough info for you to perform raw-level edits on them in any client.

 

Metadata edits are different, there are some limitations such as keywords not syncing between cloud and Classic.

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Explorer ,
Apr 26, 2023 Apr 26, 2023

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Thanks again for your comprehensive reply. My mind is now approaching "acute" on this subject! 🤯👴

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Community Expert ,
Apr 27, 2023 Apr 27, 2023

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quote

 

Sounds good, it already mostly works that way. You add images to Lightroom on your iPad, Lightroom syncs them up to the cloud, Lightroom Classic syncs them down. After you confirm that Lightroom Classic downloaded the original files safely to your local computer storage, the one additional step you want to take is to delete the cloud originals specifically from All Synced Photographs (in the Catalog panel). That will leave the originals at your computer.

 

Now, to leave just Smart Previews of them on the cloud, I think that requires syncing them back up from Lightroom Classic. Because you already mentioned using Collections, that’s good…when sync is re-enabled for those collections they will upload Smart Previews. Re-syncing those photos up does add a step, but maybe someone else knows a shorter way to delete a cloud original from Classic while leaving a Smart Preview. This is an area where I feel a little obtuse about it.

 

By @Conrad C

 

Some additional details, which might be helpful. The basic process is fine, i.e. wait for the cloud images to download the copies of the originals into the LrC catalog/local storage, then remove them from the All Synced Photographs special collection in the LrC Catalog panel (note that images can only be removed from this collection, they cannot be deleted from LrC directly from this collection). Once removed from that special collection, the images are automatically deleted from the cloud and all the associated client apps, but still remain on LrC's local storage and in the LrC catalog. They can then be synced back to the cloud from LrC, which will upload the Smart Previews.

 

All well and good, but often the problem lies in finding the images in LrC to re-sync after they are removed from the All Synced Photographs collection, i.e. once they disappear from the grid after removing from that collection, there needs to be an easy way to find them again to allow them to be re-synced. There are various ways to do that, such as putting the target images into a new ordinary but not synced collection first (the Quick Collection is a useful vehicle for this sort of purpose).

 

But what happens if you've already added them to an album created on the iPad? In that scenario, the album as well as the images syncs to LrC, where it will appear as a synced collection in the Collections Panel (probably in a collection set called "From Lightroom" or "From Lightroom Mobile"). Or if you created the collection in LrC and enabled that to sync, again before you removed the images from the All Synced Photographs special collection? You might then think there's nothing special do do regarding finding those images for re-syncing after you've removed them from All Synced Photographs, assuming they'll still be in the original collection that you put them in initially. However, you'll be disappointed to find the collection is now empty, because there are a couple of rules which need to be understood:

 

1. All Synced Photographs contains only sync-enabled images. Remove an image from that collection and it automatically becomes unsynced (which is why it then gets removed from the cloud, as the cloud can only contain synced images). There's a wrinkle relating to videos here, in that they can download from the cloud into LrC as normal, but after that they are unsynced and not added to All Synced Photographs. The "gotcha" here is that they remain "connected" to the cloud even if they appear to be unsynced in LrC, so deleting a video from LrC will still delete the corresponding video from the cloud.

 

2. A synced collection can only contain synced images and therefore it cannot contain unsynced images. So if an image that is currently in a synced collection is removed from All Synced Photographs (and thus becomes unsynced) it will also automatically be removed from any synced collection that it might have been in.

 

The trick in this scenario is to unsync the synced collection before the images are removed from All Synced Photographs. Because an unsynced collection can contain synced images, the images remain in that collection (they become unsynced after the removal from All Synced Photographs, but remain in the unsynced collection). Once removed from All Synced Photographs, it's a simple matter of re-syncing that collection which automatically enables sync for all the contained images, and so uploads the Smart Previews (and the collection appears as an album in the cloud). However, it's best to ensure the removal from All Synced Photographs has synced to the cloud and deleted the images from the cloud, before re-enabling sync for the collection.

 

Hope the above helps.

 

BTW, there's no way to replace a cloud-based original with a Smart Preview without going through the "remove from cloud and re-sync from LrC" process.

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Explorer ,
Apr 27, 2023 Apr 27, 2023

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Many thanks Jim for these further gems!

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Explorer ,
Apr 27, 2023 Apr 27, 2023

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After all your good advice, Jim, I have missed marking some collections as not synced and have therefore lost the contents of those collections. Is there any way to recover the syncing data from the catalog?

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