Lightroom Classic, Apple Photos and Google Photos working together

plus Transferring Files from Apple Photos app on your Mac to Lightroom Classic – addendum provided by Michael Barnes

The more I use my iPhone for taking photos, the more I’m forced to review whether I have the correct strategy for sync’ing, sharing and backing-up my images. This update to my posts from last year started by me puzzling over whether there wasn’t a better way of uploading images from Lightroom Classic to Google Photos for subsequent sharing – other than Export to Desktop; open Google Photos from a browser; upload images, ie Method 1 – which was described in last years post. This then led to me reviewing how Apple Photos and Google Photos were now working (or not working) together, one year on!

Let’s just start by saying I’m not going to follow the advice in this article, the use case of which I described in the original April 1st article – however sound it seems – because I’m NOT going to go back to having three copies of an image to manage (or in my case, confuse me)!

However starting from the consideration of me needing to get images out of Lightroom Classic and into an alternative service – a process that is NOT supported or enabled by Adobe – led me to the realisation that there was a better way of doing the upload to Google Photos, that moreover NOW allowed me to re-start re-syncing files in my Google Drive folder on the Mac desktop, to Google Drive in the cloud as Google Photos and Google Drive have separate sync’ing processes. Win Win!

Furthermore, I discovered that there is now a way of exporting older images from Apple Photos to Google Photos which enables you to then delete images from your device (iPhone, iPad, MacOS, or iCloud Photos) without worrying about losing them. WinWin again!!

Use Case 1 – getting images from Lightroom Classic (LrC) to Google Photos.

You might want to do this to enable sharing images with friends/family/everyone. (Although you can share from iCloud, the facilities in Google Photos are much better and they are more friendly for non-Apple users to follow.)

Step 1: Create a Google Photos folder at the Home level on your MacOS desktop …

… you’ll notice that there’s a Google Drive folder there as well – more on that later.

Step 2: Choose the images you want to send to Google Photos and then Export from the LrC Library. These are the Presets I have for that process. You’ll note that I’m going to Export to the Folder I’ve just created …

… I can then create a sub-folder to put the image(s) in, and Rename them should I choose.

Step 3: ( which isn’t a step, because this is where I found Google has changed). You enable Sync’ing from a named Folder from the Google Drive app that you need to have installed on your Mac desktop, and Active, and the images upload automatically to Google Photos.

So you can see from this that if you Export an Image to a named folder, in my case called Google Photos, it will automatically be added to Google Photos.

Thank you Google.

Use Case 2 – getting images from the iPhone to Lightroom Classic (LrC)

I’d always been reticent to use the Adobe Creative Cloud to sync images from the Camera Roll on the iPhone to LrC, but I now think that was probably being a bit short-sighted. So this workflow, although it does require some management and intervention, is by far the easiest way of transferring images.

Step 1: Enable Auto-add in the Lightroom app on the iPhone – … > App settings > Import > Photos (I’m not going to import Screenshots or Videos)

… the downside is that everything that goes into Camera Roll will be uploaded to LrC, the upside is that the process is automatic as long as you’e enable sync’ing in LrC. However, if you leave Sync’ing paused on the LrC desktop …

… you have the opportunity of deleting images from your Lightroom app on your phone before they are sync’ed up to the LrC chosen location …

… you can then Move the images to the chosen Folder in your catalog from the location you’ve sync’ed them to, deleting the ones you don’t want.

Step 2: The management step you then have to do periodically (eg when your Adobe Creative Cloud storage is nearly used up) is to open Lightroom Web on your desktop and delete all the images stored on Creative Cloud. You should also look to see if the Cache needs to be flushed in the Lightroom app on your iPhone … > App settings > Cloud storage & sync > Clear cache.

Use Case 3 – getting images from the Apple Photos to Google Photos to enable deletion of images.

One of the real issues, or problems, with Apple Photos is that deletion of an image in one place – the iPhone, iPad, Photos app, or iCloud Photos will delete it off all platforms. This may not be what you want. It’s therefore prudent to get the images off Apple Photos, or do a Backup, before you do any deletions. But there is another way.

You can now go to Apple and request a transfer out of your data. This currently only allows you to transfer Photos and Videos from Apple Photos. Read about the process on the Google site and the Apple site. The process can take between 3-7 days to complete, but when it has finished you should have all the content from your Apple Photos Library in Google Photos. Google states that it will NOT import duplicates in this process.

You can then confidently and safely delete image from Apple Photos in the knowledge that they will still be accessible from the Google Photos website, or indeed be viewable in the Google Photos app on your phone – even if you’ve deleted the image from Apple Photos!!!!

You should only need to do this once if you’ve enabled Sync’ing from a named folder (see Use Case 1 above); and most importantly you don’t need to switch on Backup in the Google Photos app.

No doubt this will not be the last post on this topic, however it does appear that Adobe, Apple and Google are moving slowly towards allow inter-working. Watch this space for an API that will make everything so much easier. You may be waiting a long time however!!!

Addendum – Transferring Files from Apple Photos app on your Mac to Lightroom Classic.

This is a relatively easy way to transfer file from the Photos app on your Mac running MacOS directly into Lightroom Classic.

1 Open Photos on your Mac. Select LIBRARY (see image below)

2 Select images you wish to copy to your hard drive 

3 Right-click on the Selected Images and click EDIT WITH (see half way down the options shown) and look for ADOBE LIGHTROOM CLASSIC

4 If it is NOT shown (and that is probable as the default list has Adobe Lightroom – the Desktop version of the cloud-based software – in the list) you can add it by clicking ‘other’ at the bottom of the menu options (which opens a list of  programme apps on your computer) and you can then find Lightroom Classic and add it to the list of options.

5 Click that and it will open Lightroom Classic and it should take you direct to the IMPORT dialogue . 

6 Now click IMPORT and continue as normal 


a) You can open any available programme app listed including preview. 

b) There are other ways to achieve the same result especially if you store your phone images in the cloud 


Reviewing Backup for my Photos

[UPDATE: After reading this, go to the bottom of the post to discover that this was really one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve reviewed what I’m doing and have reverted to using more hard disk storage and storing it off-site. I’ve cancelled my additional storage with Google Drive. I may re-visit this in the future to use Adobe Cloud Storage if I move to using Lightroom CC more.]

It’s always good to stop, think, review and possibly change the way you do things. I’ve always been reasonably confident about my backup strategy for my photographs, but a trip away last weekend without my external hard disk which is my working storage for my images, as well as carrying the Lightroom catalogs got me to thinking.

As long as the hard disk is not sitting under the desktop computer and is away from that computer and the Time Machine backup disc that sits behind the computer – happy days. In the worst case scenario I would not only have my working disc to get started on as soon as I needed it, but I’d also have the Time Machine to restore from. Seemed OK – especially since I’d set Lightroom to copy imported photos to a Google Drive folder, and likewise I’d set Lightroom to backup the catalog to another Google Drive folder on exit. With the Google Drive folders being sync’d to the Cloud – I felt reasonably “safe”.

I’d also created a bullet-proof annual off-site backup of the external hard disk with a neighbour, so that once a year I would swap the disks around and be reasonably confident of an easy restore from the Time Machine backup of the external hard disk – happy days (hopefully) … or so I thought.

The weekend away however – without that working external SSD hard disk got me to thinking, and caused me to quickly review cloud storage options. I read this excellent article and that gave me some useful leads, and insights and made me consider using an external cloud service, but I already had – Adobe Photography Plan, Dropbox, iCloud, oneDrive and Google Drive, and I could consider shipping everything off to my web-hosting site as well – so did I really need/want another option?

I decided to go with what I knew and to reconfigure how I used Google Drive with Backup and Sync. Put simply, (1 -> to the cloud) I’m now using My Computer with just one Folder (actually the entire external hard disk) to create a backup of that disk on an increased subscription (£79.99pa for 1Tb) Google Drive; and (2 <- from the cloud) I’ve cleaned-up my existing Google Drive content in the Cloud to that which I actually want access to, or to give others access to – shipping content elsewhere on my hard-disk. I’ve left the “Photo and video upload size” as High Quality (not original quality) as that higher resolution and chargeable storage will be covered anyway by the fact that the images are being treated as files, not images in the Backup and Sync of the external hard disk; and I’ve unchecked “Upload newly added photos and videos to Google Photos” as I will only be doing that from my Phone, not from the computer.

The initial Backup and Sync, will take a long time I know, but then subsequently on a daily-use basis I won’t need to do a second copy of the Imported Images to Lightroom as that will be handled by the Backup and Sync of the external hard disk where the images will then be. So … I can rest assured that I have Backup copies of all my images, and the Lightroom catalogs that record the changes/edits I make to them – really happy days! Let me re-iterate – this is not so that I can edit them anywhere, it’s to be on the safe side in case of catastrophic loss – it’s a backup strategy, not part of an editing workflow for Lightroom, or anything else.

Why did I choose Google over the other options? Cost, integration of existing practices, speed of upload, familiarity.

This approach to backup also highlights the value of Lightroom as a non-destructive photo editor. Once imported, the images never change; it’s the catalog that changes and that will still be backed up to Google Drive separately when I exit the program so nothing should ever be lost! Sync’s after the initial one will generally be quite fast.

What I will have to remember however is NOT to shutdown the computer whilst Backup and Sync is running – so I better just stop writing and go and have a cup of tea!


So, five days later and Backup and Sync hasn’t finished yet! The idea of backing-up to the Cloud wasn’t necessarily a bad idea but the execution and scope was really not great thinking. If I’d confined the Backup to just the current year’s images that would probably have been OK, but I’d already decided against having different annual Lightroom catalogs, so the die was cast … I had to copy all the images. Now, all I can do is wait until it finishes.

I also know that there was a huge gap in my thinking in backing-up from the external USB-attached SSD. The disk access was potentially fast, but the USB slowed things down. Given my strategy (which I’m happy with) for storing Catalog and Images on an external SSD, backing-up to the Cloud from it was just plain daft as I’d inserted another step in the process. Backing-up from the computer’s internal SSD would have been much faster, but I couldn’t then have used Backup and Sync for continued Backup of the external SSD.

Then there’s the question of whether using Backup and Sync was the best way of doing the initial Backup. Perhaps, just perhaps (I’m not going to test it) it might have been better (faster) to do a Folder Upload from My Drive on Google Drive. I’ll never know!

Anyway, documenting one’s failings is as good as any way I know of learning, and my goodness have I learnt a few things about Cloud Backup and Google Drive!