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 


Snapseed and Google Photos

If you want to edit, even if only in a minor way, the photos on your smart device (phone or tablet, Android or Apple), two offerings from Google should be tried first. If you’re an Android (Google) device user, it’s a no-brainer.

The Google Photos app will be installed on your device when you get it, and all you need to do is install Snapseed from the Google Play store. If you’re an iOS or iPadOS (Apple) device user then there’s a couple of extra steps you need to do before you can get started.

This guide concentrates on Snapseed. I’ve written about Google Photos previously and I’m providing links to them below. I’ll check to see that things haven’t changed materially since I published these posts …

Getting to grips with Google Photos – needs some updating and revising, and links need to be checked.

More Google Photos – some simple image manipulation – basically sound, but I need to check to see if there are any additional tools added.

Sharing an image (or album) from Google Photos – should be just about up-to-date.

How do you delete photos from Google Photos? – more recent so I’m assuming that it’s good-to-go, but I’ll check of course.

Although Snapseed is intended for use on smart mobile devices, you can install it on either a Windows PC or a Mac, but I have no experience of doing this, so it would be a project you would be taking on ahead of me. So for that reason I’m only looking at the app that you can download either from the Google Play, or Apple App stores.

So for camera users (rather than smart phone users), you will first of all need to get the photos onto your device. This could be by a direct cable connection from your camera to your phone, or by transfer using Bluetooth or WiFi, but more likely might be by using a SD-card cable like this one I have for the Apple gear. [It will either have to have a Lightning or a USB-C connector – check first before buying one.]

Apple USB-C to USB-A connector with USB-A SD-Card slot

The image(s) thus transferred will be added to your photo library be it Google Photos, or Apple Photos. Another way of adding photos on your computer to your Google Photos would be an Upload to – you will need a Google account to do this. This is how you would do it …

Select Import to Upload images to Google Photos
Select images from the Computer (or from Google Drive)

You could decide to use Google Backup to synchronise all your photos from your iPhone (or iPad) to Google Photos as an “easy” way of getting the photos on your Apple device into Google Photos, but this is not necessary to use Snapseed as it can access your Apple Photos directly; so I don’t because I’m already backing-up my photos to iCloud. [I only discovered in November I was also sync’ing to Google Photos, so I stopped doing that then and saved some Google Drive storage, and a whole lot of complications about knowing what was where.] But if you want to synchronise from your Apple Camera to Google, this is how you do it from the Google Photos app on your device …

Instructions on how to synchronise Photos on Apple devices to Google Photos

You should now install the Snapseed app on your device(s) from the Google Play, or Apple App stores, if you haven’t already. If you’re an Apple user you might choose to install the Google Photos app at the same time – although you don’t need it to use Snapseed, but you might just like to compare how it works.

Next up, if you’re an Apple user you need to allow access to your Photo Library to Snapseed (and optionally Google Photos). This will allow both apps (on iOS) to access the Photos in your Camera Roll on your iPhone or iPad.

Setting up Google Photos and Snapseed to be able to look at Apple Photos on device(s)

So now your ready to start editing. Open the Snapseed app on your device – you are prompted to Open from device (ie look at the images in your Photo Library), or you can access the camera to take a shot, or Open latest image that you’ve taken. The steps from then on are relatively straightforward and you will have selected the image that you want to Use.

Open Snapseed and look at the photos on your local device
Select an image to edit, and click-on Use
… and so start editing.

That’s about it. This video (recorded from my screen, hence background noise and rather low audio volume) gives a reasonable introduction on how the Snapseed app works …

A brief (14mins) introduction to editing photos using Snapseed

Here are some links that you might find of interest:

Complete Guide To Using Snapseed To Edit Your iPhone Photos

How to Edit Photos in Snapseed

Using your Android camera to take photos; but I believe all Android phones have slightly different camera interfaces, so you’re better off researching that for yourself. [NB If you have come across a really good guide, let me know and I’ll add it to the list here.]

How to Use the Camera on an Android Phone: The Basics Explained

Then for the iPhone …

How to use iPhone Camera: A guide for beginners and pros

A Beginners Guide To Incredible iPhone Photography

How To Use The iPhone Camera App To Take Incredible Photos

I hope that helps. Please advise if you come across something that doesn’t quite work for you, it might be my notes!!!