Seven Ways to Use Lightroom for Mobile

by Andrew S. Gibson
Seven Ways to Use Lightroom for Mobile

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If you’re a Lightroom Classic subscriber you can also use Lightroom for mobile, Adobe’s app for tablets and smartphones and integrate it with your workflow in various ways. Adobe has added lots of new features, making it more useful than ever. I can think of at least seven things you can use the Lightroom for mobile app for, so let’s take a look at them.

Note: Even if you don’t use Lightroom Classic you can still download and use Lightroom for mobile to view and develop photos. But without an Adobe Photography Plan subscription your photos won’t synchronize with other Lightroom apps or Lightroom Classic.

1. Use Lightroom for mobile to present your photos

Lightroom for 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 Classic.

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

Learn more: How to Organize Your Photos with Lightroom Classic Collections

When you open Lightroom for mobile it connects with Adobe’s servers and downloads those Smart Previews so you can view the images on your device. You can even download the previews permanently so you can show your photos to other people without an internet connection. The app is perfect for showing off your portfolio on your phone or tablet.

For example, here’s a Collection in Lightroom Classic.

Lightroom Classic Collection

This is what the Collection looks like in Lightroom for mobile.

Lightroom for mobile app

The best way to show your photos to somebody else is to click the ellipsis icon (the three dot icon top right) and select Start Slideshow, then let them swipe through.

Tip: For the best viewing experience, tap the ellipsis icon next to the Collection name, and select Store locally. Lightroom for mobile saves the Smart Previews on your device, so that you can view the photos offline, or view photos without having to wait for the app to download the full-size preview.

Lightroom for mobile app

2. Use Lightroom for mobile to edit (select) photos

Lightroom for mobile gives you another way to edit your photos, as in select which ones are the best, or pick which ones you’d like to develop. It’s a great option for viewing and sorting photos when you’re away from your main computer, like on a train or plane journey.

Here’s how it works. Start with a synced Collection of photos. Then, if you’re not going to have an internet connection, take the time to swipe through the entire Collection beforehand. That ensures the app downloads the Smart Previews to your device, so you can view your photos properly offline.

Tap the ellipsis icon in the top right of the app, then go to Info overlays, tap the Show info overlays button (if it’s not already activated) and select Flags and ratings.

Lightroom for mobile app

Tap the first photo in the Collection, then tap the Star icon on the right.

Lightroom for mobile app

Swipe left and right to move through your photos. Swipe up on the left to apply a star rating, or up on the right to apply a flag.

Lightroom for mobile app
Lightroom for mobile app

The app syncs the star ratings and Flags back to Lightroom Classic when you have an internet connection.

3. Use AI to select your best images

Do you find it difficult to select your best photos? Then why not let Lightroom for mobile do the work using AI?

To test it out, I created a Collection containing the best photos I made of my son Alex last year.

Lightroom for mobile app

To start, tap the ellipsis icon, then select Choose best photos.

Lightroom for mobile app

Lightroom gets to work, and after a few seconds (or minutes, depending on how many photos are in the Collection), segments your photos into two categories, Chosen and Other. Move the Quality threshold slider right to reduce the number of Chosen photos.

Lightroom for mobile app

In this case, I didn’t agree with Lightroom’s selection, but it’s a fun feature you can play with.

4. Develop photos in Lightroom for mobile

Once you’ve selected your best photos, why not develop them in Lightroom mobile? The latest updates mean it has nearly as much functionality as Lightroom Classics. Lightroom for mobile also has lots of presets that aren’t available in Lightroom Classic, for you to experiment with.

But the feature that makes Lightroom for mobile much easier to develop photos in, just like Lightroom Classic, is masking. Tools like Select Subject and Select Sky make it easy to use masks (selections) to develop your photos.

Lightroom for mobile app
Lightroom for mobile app

The app syncs all your work, so that anything you do in Lightroom for mobile shows up in Lightroom Classic.

Mobile devices are not color calibrated, so serious editing should be done in Lightroom Classic. But you can try some things out, and it’s a great option to have if you’re away from home, or relaxing in your living room and don’t want to go up to your main computer and turn it on.

5. Backup photos in Lightroom for mobile

The app’s ideal for backing up your photos when you’re away from home. Strictly speaking you don’t need the mobile app, 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. You can also buy flash drives designed to work with the iPad using a lightning cable. Even better, many Android devices use removable Micro SD cards that you can use for backups.

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

6. Import photos taken on your mobile phone

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

The only downside of this is that it imports every photo from your phone or tablet into Lightroom Classic, which means you could end up with photos that you don’t want in there, like screenshots or photos saved from apps like Whatsapp.

The solution is to use the camera in the Lightroom for mobile app, and disable the import from camera roll feature. The app sends the photos you made with the Lightroom for mobile camera to Lightroom Classic, but no others.

7. Use Lightroom for mobile to share photos on Instagram

Lots of photographers use Instagram, but you can’t upload photos to it directly from Lightroom Classic. The solution is to put your Instagram photos in a synced Collection, then open the Lightroom for mobile app on a phone or tablet. You can send the photo to Instagram from there.

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

There’s a lot more to Lightroom for mobile than the seven features I’ve touched on here. If you haven’t used Lightroom for mobile before, then give it a try. I’d be amazed if you didn’t find it useful.

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