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 


My simplified (dummy’s) guide to getting images from Lightroom (Lr) into Lightroom Classic (LrC)

[Originally posted 20th December 2020;
Revised 12th April 2021

I’ve lost count of the number of posts on the subject of Workflow and Lightroom, Mobile and Classic (see links at the bottom) … and I’m still not using Lightroom (as opposed to Lightroom Classic – the desktop version)! That may, or may not, be a failing in me; it may be a failing in my understanding of whether I can actually find a place for Lightroom (the mobile cloud version) in my workflow. However, I’m determined to find out whether I’m missing out on something that might be useful, especially in the context of new Apple hardware. I’m talking now not just about the iPad Pro, but also the possibilities of benefiting from the M1 Chip in the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, as well as whether my iPhone 12 mini can be part of the workflow.

It occurred to me that with my MacBook Pro (mid-2012) beginning to show it’s age (trackpad failing), and with my experiments with my iPad Mini and iPhone 6s with the Lightroom app not exactly being a resounding success, that perhaps, just perhaps, technology had moved on and I would have to move on with it! When you add to this, that a native Lightroom (Lr) for the M1 Chip (to be followed later admittedly by Lightroom Classic) was to be released then I began to wonder whether I really needed Lightroom Classic (LrC) on a laptop, especially when benchmarks seemed to be showing that you didn’t need so much memory with the M1 Chip to do anything – other than for video editing. So to be “ahead of the curve” perhaps I needed to introduce Lr into my Workflow not as a replacement to LrC but as a stepping stone. So here goes … I will describe my proposed Workflow [revised 12th April 2021] as a number of Use Cases.

Importing images from my camera to Lightroom (Lr).

I could link the Sony A7rIII to Lightroom on iOS/IPadOS using wireless, or buy a cable to join the two, but to be honest it’s fiddly and as I have a Lightning to SD-Card dongle, it’s easier to just eject the card from the camera and insert it in the slot of the dongle.

I purchased the iPhone 12 mini with 256Gb RAM to allow the possibility of adding images from the camera, but also more importantly to enable the use of the Lightroom camera on the phone. We’ll deal with that Use Case later.

I need to make sure a few things are setup on my iPad – my chosen device to import photos into Lightroom (Lr).

  1. I’ve created an album which I’ve called Sony to Classic Sync – this is the album I’m going to later synchronise with Lightroom Classic (LrC). I don’t enable Auto Add from Camera Roll – I don’t want anything seeping into the sync process that is outside manual control. I might decide to setup Albums for a special shoot/event/trip as an alternative to this album if that seems more appropriate, but I will use this album as the default one for syncing to the cloud and on into LrC.
  2. I check the Cloud icon and make sure that Syncing has been Paused – again I don’t want syncing to take place until I’m ready! Having done both of these and having inserted the dongle into the iPad …
  3. I go to my chosen Album (see 1 above) and Select – Add Photos, and Choose – From Files (this is the source Location for the images to be imported). I will then Browse to the Named SD-Card (it may appear in the list of possible Locations as “NO NAME”).
  4. Click then down through the folders (eg DCIM > 100MSDCF) to get to the images and click on Select. Either click on Select All, or select individually the images you want to Import. Click on Done to start the import process. The images should appear in the Album you’ve chosen.

At this time the images have only been imported into Lightroom (Lr) on the iPad – if they are RAW images, that is what will have been imported. You can Select, Edit and Delete, add some Metadata such as Title, Caption and Keywords and Rate your images – you can’t apply Colour Labels. At this moment, the images will not have been synced to your Adobe Cloud account – that comes later!

Taking photos with my iPhone and syncing them to Lr

There are two Use Cases here. One where you are using your iPhone to just quickly take “snaps”; the other where you intend to do some post-production in Lightroom Mobile on the iPad, or after syncing to Lightroom Classic.In the first case you use the iPhone’s Camera app (which will if you’ve set things up in the right way upload the images to Apple’s iCloud, and /or Google Photos); in the second case you will use the Lr Camera rather than the iOS Camera to take the photos. Let’s deal with both cases …

Using the iOS Camera App and Camera Roll

After you’ve taken the photo it will appear in Photos your Camera Roll.

These are the settings I use to save the image to my iCloud account and to be able to see them on my other Apple devices as well …

If you want to have them uploaded to Google Photos as well, you need to open the Google Photos app, click on your icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen, and then firstly select Photos settings …

… and then enable Backup and sync from the Backup and sync screen as well as making a decision of the size of image you want uploaded, as well as whether you want to use mobile data to do the upload (I choose not to, just doing uploads when connected to WiFi).

You will now have the images accessible to you should you wish to Add photos from Camera Roll in the Lightroom Mobile app.

I have chosen to create an Album (a Collection in Lightroom Classic) which will Auto Import from Camera Roll when Sync is switched on …

… but I’ve also chosen to only Import Photos, not Screenshots or Videos – I don’t want, or need, them in Lightroom Classic …

… you should make your own decision about the RAW Default Settings.

So, if I take a photo with the iPhone Camera app it will automatically appear in the Lightroom Mobile Album – “Camera Roll to Classic Sync”.

You will notice (hopefully), that I’ve Paused Sync, so that anything added from the Camera Roll will not be Synced to Lightroom Classic.

It might be a good idea to NOT “Use Cellular Data” and to Enable “Only Download Smart Previews” – the latter is important because Smart Previews DON’T count against your Storage Quota on Adobe Cloud.

What I tend to do at this stage, or at least before I select “Resume Syncing”, is to go into the “Camera Roll to Classic Sync” album and delete the images I DON’T WANT to Sync to Lightroom Classic.

Using the Lightroom Mobile app (on iPhone or iPad)

The Lightroom camera app is much more sophisticated than the basic iPhone Camera app, so using it as a camera when you intend to include the image in your Lightroom Classic Catalog with, or without, post-processing is a Use Case you should seriously consider.

If you do this then the shots you take will appear under the Library > Lr Camera Photos menu in the Lightroom app …

… from there it’s relatively easy to …

  1. Go to the ellipsis icon “…” click on “Select“;
  2. Select the images you want to sync, and then
  3. Click on “Add To” which appears at the bottom of the screen when you start selecting images, and then
  4. Choose the Album you want to synchronise – usually in my case the one entitled “Lightroom Camera to Classic”.

You’re now ready to Sync

It’s relatively straightforward now to go to the Cloud icon and select Resume Syncing. You will see the progress of the syncing which for a lot of large RAW images can take quite a bit of time.

When the Synced and Backed Up checkbox has a tick in it – the import has finished, I will then click on Pause Syncing so that I don’t get inadvertent syncing taking place.

[NB I don’t want, or need, Adobe Cloud to provide a Backup for my images – if I’m importing from my cameraI I won’t delete anything from the SD-Cards until I’m confident I have the images I want imported into Lightroom Classic (LrC) – which has it’s own Backup arrangements.

If I’m syncing from the Camera Roll on the iPhone there will be copies in the Photos and Google Photos apps – “in the cloud”. ]

At this point you could check the synchronisation has gone to plan by starting-up Lightroom (Lr) (NOT Lightroom Classic) on your desktop/laptop. This will grab the images that are in Adobe Cloud and present them in a similar fashion to the iOS/iPadOS interface …

[NB Lightroom (Lr) can only sync with one Lightroom Classic (LrC) catalog, so you need to remember this when selecting your Catalog, or use that fact to your advantage if you don’t want to sync with Lightroom (Lr). You could do that by using different catalogs for synced and non-synced images.]

Preparing to Sync Lightroom (Lr) with Lightroom Classic (LrC)

In the same way that I want to do the upload to Adobe Cloud manually, and not have automatic syncing going on …

  1. I need to make sure that the “normal” setting for the Cloud icon in Lightroom Classic (LrC) is “Sync Paused” – unfortunately the Default setting is to have Sync Active.
  2. I need to provide Lightroom Classic (LrC) with information on what I want it to do with the images it’s going to import from Creative Cloud. You do this from the Lightroom Classic > Preferences … > Lightroom Sync page. You can see from the image below I’ve decided to Upload Images (using Lightroom Sync) to a folder on my local Google Drive, and to put them into Sub-folders by year and date …

[NB Since writing this, I have changed the Specified Location to be the actual folder that I want to store the images in; hence removing the need to move the images mentioned below.]

Syncing and what happens next

Once I’m confident that I’ve got Lightroom Classic (LrC) set up and ready to receive images from Creative Cloud, I can go to the Cloud icon and click on “Resume syncing“.

The album(s) I’ve created in Creative Cloud – and this can be either those on an iOS/iPadOS device OR Lightroom (Lr) on the desktop/laptop – will now be synced to Lightroom Classic (LrC).

The Albums from Lightroom (Lr) will appear in Lightroom Classic (LrC) as Collections, and the images will appear in the folder(s) that I determined in the previous step.

I can identify the Synced Collections (Albums from Lightroom (Lr)) by clicking on the magnifying glass under the Library > Collections menu …

I can see the images have been uploaded by looking at the Folders menu …

What I need to do now is Move the Images from the folder I stipulated on the Preferences page to their permanent home in my Images dataset. This I do and can only do within Lightroom Classic – you must never do this outside Lightroom Classic (LrC) because if you do, the LrC Catalog will lose the information of where the image resides in your file structure. For example …

[NB As mentioned above, I now upload the images to the folder I want them to be in, thus meaning I don’t have to move them.]

Now that I’ve got the images where I want them in Lightroom Classic (LrC), I need to stop the Collection (Album) syncing back to Lightroom (Lr) should I do any changes to the image – which I undoubtedly would. I thus click on the two-way arrow next to the Synced Collection …

… read the warning message, and click on “Stop Syncing“. You will then notice that the two-way arrow has become a check box …

… all that remains is to delete the images from Adobe Cloud, this can be done either from the desktop/laptop application, or from the iOS/iPadOS apps. It would probably be a good idea to move these collections that had been synced to a logical place in your Collections hierarchy before the next step if you want to keep them.

Deleting the images from Adobe Cloud will release some of your valuable storage space on your mobile device but will not delete them from Lightroom Classic (LrC), only from the Synced Collections. [See article referenced below.]

You can choose to Remove the Photos from a Synced Collection, but leave them in All Synced Photographs. This will enable you to move them to a different Local Collection, should you wish – if you haven’t already moved them as I suggested a couple of paras before…

In all cases however the images won’t have been removed from their Folders in your Images dataset, only from Collections …

The folders are unchanged after images have been removed from Synced Collections.

… and that’s about it, until I think of something else 🙂

For more information on Syncing to Adobe Cloud I suggest you look at this article and for further information on how to Remove photos from Adobe Cloud sync, I suggest looking at this article.

Other links

Lr Mobile – moving on! (March 2020)

Lightroom on the move – biting the bullet (February 2020)

Lightroom Workflow (2019) (October 2019)

Travelling with my camera and without my MacBook Pro (May 2019)

Lightroom CC (iPhone) working with Lightroom Classic CC (September 2018)