A Brief Guide to Lightroom Mobile and Lightroom Web

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Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web

As you are aware, there are two ways to buy Lightroom.

The first is to buy a perpetual license, which means that you pay a set one-off fee to use the software for as long as you want. The second way is to subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography plan. With this, you pay a monthly fee that allows you to use Lightroom CC, Photoshop CC, Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web for as long as you keep up the subscription.

The subscription plan is somewhat controversial, and I know from comments on previous articles that some of you don’t like it. However, as it gives you access to Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web (as well as Photoshop CC) it’s worthwhile exploring the benefits of this licensing model.

Photoshop needs no introduction, but Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web are less well known. So let’s take a look at what they do, and how you can use them in your workflow.

Note: Lightroom mobile is now available for most Android and iOS smart phones and tablets. Up to date operating systems may be required.

Lightroom mobile helps you synchronize photos on your mobile device

In Lightroom CC you can synchronize any Collection with Lightroom mobile.

Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web

The lightning bolt icons on the left indicate these Collections are synchronized with Lightroom mobile.

Synchronized Collections appear on your mobile device (internet connection required) and you can download them for offline viewing.

Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web

Synchronized Collections created in Lightroom CC are immediately available for viewing in Lightroom mobile.

One practical application of this is that you can create a Collection containing your best photos to show people interested in viewing your portfolio. You can add or remove photos in Lightroom CC, and the updates are automatically pushed to Lightroom mobile. Very little work is required on your part, as most of the process is automated.

Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web

Lightroom mobile doesn’t require much storage space on your mobile device

Unless you have a device with a lot of storage space you probably don’t have room to store hundreds of full-size JPEG or Raw files in addition to what’s already on there.

Lightroom mobile works around that by using Smart Previews; a compressed preview of your photo that measures 2540 pixels along the longest edge. Crucially, Smart Previews are only a fraction of the size of a JPEG or Raw file (around 2%).

When you synchronize a Collection with Lightroom mobile, Lightroom CC generates Smart Previews of the photos it contains (if they don’t exist already) and uploads them to Adobe Cloud.

In turn, Lightroom mobile accesses Adobe Cloud and downloads the Smart Previews when they are required. They are cached and can be deleted when you need to free up memory. This system ensures you can use Lightroom mobile on devices without much spare storage space.

Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web

This Collection contains 37 photos yet only takes up 54.6Mb of my device’s storage space.

You can also download Smart Previews to your device and store them to enable off-line viewing and editing. This requires more storage space (although not a lot), but doing so both speeds up Lightroom mobile, and lets you view and edit photos without an internet connection. If you have a device with 64GB or 128GB storage, you have space for tens of thousands of Smart Previews.

Note: Lightroom mobile can be set to use a wi-fi connection only, so it doesn’t consume mobile bandwidth.

Lightroom mobile lets you Flag and rate images

If you use the Lightroom Library module to view images you will be aware that even on fast systems it’s not always as fast as you would like. Viewing images in Lightroom mobile is much faster. There’s virtually no delay in previewing images as long as you have enabled offline editing.

This means you can view photos and assign Flags or Ratings very quickly, greatly speeding up the amount of time it takes to view images from a shoot, and decide which ones to process.

Any changes you make to metadata, including Flags and Ratings, are automatically updated in Lightroom CC (internet connection required).

Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web

Lightroom mobile lets you process photos

Yes, you can process your photos in Lightroom mobile as well. All edits are synchronized with Lightroom CC. However, you don’t have the full functionality of Lightroom’s Develop module. But you can carry out the following:

  • All the adjustments available in the Basic panel
  • Cropping images
  • Apply one of 42 built-in presets
  • Add a vignette
  • Adjust Tone Curves
  • Use the Color/B&W adjustment tool

Note: Most mobile devices are not colour calibrated, so critical processing work should be carried out on a computer with a calibrated monitor.

Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web

Lightroom mobile synchronizes photos taken with your mobile device, with Lightroom CC

You can create a Lightroom mobile Collection that automatically populates with photos taken with, or added to your mobile device. Lightroom mobile uploads them to Adobe Cloud when you go online, and when you open Lightroom CC it downloads them and saves them on your computer. This works with JPEG, PNG and video files but not Raw files.

Lightroom web lets you make photos available for online viewing

When you synchronize a Collection with Lightroom mobile you can also make it available for public viewing. Lightroom generates a unique link for you to share with people so they can view the Collection in a web browser. Viewer’s logged in with an Adobe ID can comment on photos and mark favourites.

Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web

Lightroom web lets you access your photos from a web browser

Log in to the Adobe Lightroom website using your Adobe ID to access all your synchronized Collections. You can assign flags and ratings, make comments, mark images as favourites, and view essential metadata such as exposure settings. However, you can’t carry out any processing. You can also download a large JPEG file (generated from the Smart Preview).

Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web

Lightroom mobile as a backup

You may be wondering if you can use Lightroom mobile to edit or view photos taken in the field. The answer is you can, but with restrictions. The major one is that you can’t import Raw files into Lightroom mobile, even if they have been downloaded from your camera to your mobile device.

But you can import JPEG files. This is the workflow. It’s not as straightforward as it could be, but it works.

  • Shoot Raw+JPEG in-camera
  • Download all the photos to your mobile device
  • Import the JPEG files into Lightroom mobile
  • Assign Flags and Ratings, or process images in Lightroom mobile
  • When you get home, import the Raw files into Lightroom CC without changing the name. Meanwhile the JPEGS are synchronized via the Adobe Cloud
  • Use John Beardsworth’s Syncomatic plug-in to synchronize the changes you made to the JPEG files with their Raw equivalents

Your turn

Do you use Lightroom mobile or Lightroom web? What do you use them for? I’d love to know – please tell us in the comments.


The Mastering Lightroom CollectionMastering Lightroom ebooks

My Mastering Lightroom ebooks will help you get the most out of Lightroom. They cover every aspect of the software from the Library module through to creating beautiful images in the Develop module. Click the link to learn more or buy.

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Andrew S. Gibson

is a writer, photographer, traveler and workshop leader. He’s an experienced teacher who enjoys helping people learn about photography and Lightroom and his written over 25 popular photography ebooks. Enroll in his new Lightroom course for free, or download his free Creative Fade Presets for Lightroom.

  • candyK

    Im traveling and having complete frustration with my programs being cloud based. The functionality of the programs has been very slow/ unresponsive and the difficulty of importing has been way too time consuming. I am very disappointed in the cloud based programs. The mobile version of LR has only served to be a viewing portal for me.

  • Michelle7812
  • David Angram

    Everything you need for Lightroom Mobile is Lightroom 5.4, its buddy application, and an Adobe Creative Cloud account. Lightroom 5.4 is accessible under a never-ending permit, yet you don’t get the portable sync gave by the CC adaptation from custom thesis writing service.

  • Emily7849
  • Inesipinesi

    Is there a way to watermark the pictures that I sync with LR Mobile? For the moment I only could watermark them using the export command. Do you have any suggestion for a feasible workflow?

  • Patricia5563
  • I currently have Lightroom CC but haven’t ventured into Lightroom Mobile (aside from downloading the app). I do really like the workflow tip for flagging/rating images. While photography is a big part of my regular life, I am not a professional and often other priorities beat out image processing. I unfortunately know I have on the order of 600-800 images that I have not yet culled, largely due to the large chunk of time it takes to go through them that I can’t dedicate just sitting on the computer after getting home from my day job. But, a synchronized collection of “work in process” might allow me to do that culling process while mobile and have a few minutes here and there. This would allow me to spend my processing time on actual image editing instead of just culling/metadata updating.

    Does this sound like a good use of Lightroom Mobile and the data on my mobile device? Has anyone else tried this?

  • No there isn’t.

  • Hi Josh, this is easy to do with Lightroom mobile. First, create the Collection (or Collections) of images that you want to review on Lightroom mobile, then wait for the whole lot to synchronise. Then you can view in Lightroom mobile and flag the photos that you want to process. It’s really easy.

    You don’t have to use up your mobile data either. You can set Lightroom mobile to synchronise only over wi-fi. If you have enough storage space on your device enable offline editing for the synchronised Collections. This tells Lightroom mobile to download the Smart Previews and speeds up the viewing and review process.

  • Alexis7856

    @andrewsgibson:disqus ->->
    >

  • Tikaro

    I would appreciate it if the article was dated. I can’t tell if it’s weeks old or a year old.

  • The article was written a few weeks ago and in this point in time is completely up to date.

  • Ryan Corliss

    Great article. I’ve been enjoying both Lightroom and Lightroom for Mobile for a short bit now. I use auto add for photos and videos on my phone to ensure new pics I take sync easily. However, recently I noticed storage issues and looking into it further by investigating my phone’s storage, I see that LR for Mobile seems to be eating up 14GB of my phone. That seems REALLY high to me – especially when its only smart previews being downloaded to my phone and roughly 7000 photos. Does this make sense? I’m wondering if there’s a setting off that I need to correct. I have even wiped my phone clean of all existing photos and still no luck. Any insight would be great to learn.

  • Well i have very good experience of cloud storing, i have 400 gb account of degoo in my openion its a best cloud source. create your own website and domain

  • Great stuff you’ve compiled here. This is excellent writing from you. I really had a good time reading this fantastic article. Everything here is just top notch, mate. I hope you’ll continue to give more stuff like this.

  • Dylan Glockler

    ‘Two weeks ago’ now being a year and two weeks ago.

  • Lightroom generates a unique, thankfully for your information

  • tina4362@mail.ru

    It is good describe on light room mobile and light room web. People like it so much and they are able to understand the difference among them.

  • clara86542@mail.ru

    There are many people are now like to work with photography as like cs, ps etc. The apps have demand in the market and the service is also nice. We can do many photographic work by us these apps.

  • Instablographer

    How unfortunate that this post is not dated. Without a date, I have no idea how old/dated the information presented might be. So I’m not going to waste my time reading it. 🙁

  • Whether this application can run in all android operating systems??

  • Robert-Phyllis Van

    I transfer raw files from my Canon 60 D to my iPad Pro. Add to Lightroom mobile and they download on Mac as Raw files. At least they show up as 20 Mb+ .CR2 files.

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