Seven Ways to Use Lightroom Mobile

Seven Ways to Use Lightroom Mobile

If you’re a Lightroom CC subscriber you can also use Lightroom mobile, Adobe’s mobile app for tablets and smartphones. But are you wondering whether you would find it useful? I can think of at least seven things you can use Lightroom mobile for – let’s take a look at them.

By the way, if you don’t use Lightroom CC you can sign up for a 30 day trial of Lightroom mobile so you can try these ideas. But you’ll have to sign up to the Creative Photography Plan to use it once the trial has expired.

Lightroom mobile is available for iPads, iPhones, Android tablets and Android phones. You may need to update your operating system for it to work.

1. Use Lightroom mobile as a presentation device.

Lightroom mobile makes it easy to upload photos to your mobile device. It eliminates at least one step in the upload process because you can do it all from within Lightroom CC.

Lightroom, as you probably know, requires you to organize photos in Collections.

You can learn more about Collections and Collection Sets in my article How to Organize Your Photos with Lightroom Collections.

You can synchronize any Collection (but not Smart Collections or Collection Sets) with Lightroom mobile by ticking the appropriate box in the Collections panel. Lightroom creates Smart Previews of the photos in the Collection (if they don’t exist already) and uploads them to Adobe Cloud.

When you open Lightroom mobile it connects with Adobe Cloud and downloads those Smart Previews so you can view the images on your device.

Collection of photos viewed in Lightroom

Above: A synchronized Collection in Lightroom.

Collection of photos viewed in Lightroom mobile

Above: The same Collection in Lightroom mobile

2. Use Lightroom mobile to select which photos to process

Lightroom mobile is much more than a photo viewer. You can also use it to assign flags and ratings (although not color labels or keywords) and move selected photos to a new Collection. That new Collection is then visible back in Lightroom CC.

Let’s say you go out and spend the day taking photos, ending up with around 200 frames. You’re highly unlikely to want to process all 200, so the normal course of action is to import them into Lightroom, view them in the Library module and assign Flags to your favorites.

If the Collection containing the photos is synchronized with Lightroom mobile you can also do this on your mobile device (it works best on tablets with large screens). Personally, I find it quicker to select photos using Lightroom mobile than I do from within Lightroom.

Collection of photos viewed in Lightroom, ready for selecting the best ones

Above: A Collection of images ready for sorting in Lightroom mobile.

3. Use Lightroom mobile to enable somebody else to select which photos to process

Scott Kelby wrote an article explaining how he set up a studio shoot with a camera tethered to Lightroom. As the photos were imported into Lightroom he sent the best ones to a Collection synchronized with Lightroom mobile. The art director could see the photos on an iPad, and assign flags to the ones he liked. Click here to read Scott’s article.

Whenever you synchronize a Collection with Lightroom mobile you have the option of making it publicly viewable. This means anybody with the link can view the photos online. This is known as Lightroom web.

Let’s say you took some photos of a friend and would like her to choose some favorites. You just synchronize the Collection with Lightroom mobile and send her the link. If she logs in with an Adobe ID she can mark images as favorites and leave comments. These show up in Lightroom CC so you can see exactly which photos she selected.

A Collection of photos viewed in Lightroom web

Above: A Collection viewable in Lightroom web. Logged in users can leave comments and mark images as favorites.

Comment made in Lightroom web shown in Comments panel in Lightroom Library module

Above: Back in Lightroom you can see comments and likes in the Comments panel in the Library module.

4. Develop photos in Lightroom mobile

You can also develop photos in Lightroom mobile. The latest update even allows you to convert photos to black and white or adjust the Tone Curve. Mobile devices are not color calibrated, so serious editing should be done in Lightroom CC, but you can at least try some things out.

Developing a photo in Lightroom mobile

Above: Developing a photo in Lightroom mobile.

5. Backup photos in Lightroom mobile

Lightroom mobile is ideal for backing up your photos when you’re away from home. Strictly speaking you don’t need Lightroom mobile, you just need a device with enough storage space. For example, I have a 128GB iPad and with the Lightning to SD Card adapter I can import photos from my camera’s memory cards into my iPad. As long as I don’t exceed the storage capacity of the device it gives me the freedom to travel without taking my laptop.

But with Lightroom mobile you can view those photos, arrange them into Collections and assign flags. It means you don’t have to wait until you get home to start organizing and sorting the photos you took while away.

You can now import Raw files as well as JPEGs directly into Lightroom mobile. Earlier versions of Lightroom mobile didn’t let you do this.

6. Import photos taken on your mobile phone

You can set Lightroom mobile to automatically import photos taken with your mobile file (including Raw DNG files with iOS and Android devices). When wi-fi is available Lightroom mobile uploads the photos to Adobe’s servers. Lightroom automatically downloads those photos and saves them on your main computer’s hard drive when this machine is online.

You can also use your phone’s camera from within the Lightroom mobile app. But there are a few things to be aware of.

1. The phone in Lightroom mobile is not as sophisticated as some third-party apps you can buy.

2. If you use the DNG format then the files are much bigger than JPEGs and take a long time to upload. At the moment you can only upload them via internet. There is no option to transfer files using a wired connection (this may change in future versions of Lightroom mobile).

For the moment I advise that you take photos with another app, and transfer them to your computer through a wired connection. It’s easier that way and you can still import your photos into Lightroom mobile from your camera roll.

3. If you sign up for the 30 day Lightroom mobile trial and take photos with the app, you won’t be able to transfer those files to your computer after the trial has expired if you decide not to go ahead with the CC subscription.

Photo taken in Ilfracombe, Devon with an iPhone SE using DNG

Above: Photo taken with Lightroom mobile on an iPhone.

7. Use Lightroom mobile to share photos on Instagram

Instagram is the hot photo sharing website right now, but one of its oddities is that you can only upload photos from a mobile device, and not directly from Lightroom itself without a paid plug-in. But you can using Lightroom mobile.

My article How to Post Photos to Instagram From Lightroom Using Lightroom Mobile explains the process in full.

If you’re a Lightroom CC subscriber and you don’t use Lightroom mobile, then I encourage you to give it a try. The ideas in this article are a great starting point. Have a play and see what you think. I’d be surprised if you didn’t find it useful!

What to read next

Read these articles next to learn more about using Lightroom.

How to Organize Your Photos With Lightroom Collections

What is the Lightroom Catalog?

How to Organize Photos for Lightroom

The Single Most Important Setting in the Lightroom Develop Module

How to Post Photos to Instragram from Lightroom Using Lightroom Mobile

The next steps

If you’d like to learn more about Lightroom I suggest you sign up to our Introducing Lightroom free email course (see below).

Mastering Lightroom ebooks

You can also learn more about Lightroom with our Mastering Lightroom series of ebooks.

Mastering Lightroom books

About Andrew S. Gibson

Andrew S. Gibson is a writer, publisher, traveler, workshop leader and photographer based in the UK. He started writing about photography while traveling in Bolivia, and has been published in many prestigious photography magazines including EOS magazine, where he worked as a Writer and Technical Editor for two years. He currently writes for The Creative Photographer and Digital Photography School. He is inspired by meeting new people, seeing new places and having new experiences.


  1. Hi Andrew,
    I enjoy reading all your articles and I have several of your ebooks which I find very helpful, so i thought I’d ask you a LR Mobile question…

    While traveling I’ve added photos to Mobile directly from the camera since I didn’t take my laptop. When I get home I upload all the originals to my laptop & storage drives. The mobile collections show up in LR on my laptop, but they aren’t linked to the originals that I loaded onto the laptop. The originals are in a file called “Mobile Downloads.lrdata”, which has folders with names that only a computer would like i.e. “a022ed8ff6a727cab84331aabd3b2cb98058c8a9d8050388a18de9367262d188”

    How do I move the originals from the iPad/mobile files to my laptop to keep my files all in one place? I can move the mobile collection to the laptop in LR but then I end up with duplicate originals.

    1. Author

      Hi Ed, as you have saved your photos to your laptop / hard drives it seems to me you have two copies of your photos on your computer – the originals plus the ones in the Mobile Downloads.lrdata file. You can move the ones in the Mobile Downloads.lrdata file to a better location from the Folders panel if you want. You can also specify the folder where you would like Lightroom to save the photos synced from Lightroom mobile to avoid the naming problem. You can do that under the Lightroom mobile tab in Preferences. Just create a folder on your laptop / hard drive where you’d like to save them. That should make things easier. Does that answer your question?

  2. I realize that I’ll have two copies, so I guess what I’m asking is how Can I ‘link’ the edits I made on the iPad with the originals on my Mac?

    I’d prefer to keep the raw originals that I download from the card rather than the raw files from the mobile app since they aren’t saved in the same file structure.

    Do I need to reassign the reference file from the mobile version to the original raw file?

    1. Author

      The easiest way to do it is delete the photos from Lightroom mobile from your hard drive using your operating system. That breaks the link – they will still be in the Catalog but Lightroom won’t know where to find them. Then you can relink them to the photos downloaded from your memory card. If you don’t want to delete the photos you can rename the folder they are in or move them to another folder. That will also break the link.

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