A lot of us are still getting used to the idea of subscription-based software, but one of the strongest reasons for choosing Lightroom CC over Lightroom 6 (the ‘perpetual licence’ version) is its integration with Adobe’s Creative Cloud. You can manage photos on your laptop, add to them via a browser, edit them on your tablet and access them pretty much anywhere. There are still some limits, though, so here’s a guide to what you can and can’t synchronise via the Adobe Creative Cloud with the Lightroom desktop app.

The first thing you have to do is hook up Lightroom with your Creative Cloud account. For this you need the ‘Activity Centre’ in the top left corner of the screen, just to the right of the ‘Lr’ logo. If you click here you’ll see a drop-down menu where you can ‘Sync with Lightroom Mobile’. You need to click the ‘Sign In’ link, and once you’ve done this successfully you should see your name appear in the top left corner to show that you’re signed in. That’s it. Simple, eh?

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You log in to your Creative Cloud account via the Activity Centre in the top left of the screen. Once you’re logged in, your name is displayed and you’re ready to sync.

What you can sync, and what you can’t

But this is where it gets a little toooo simple. At the moment, you can only synchronise Lightroom Collections. You can’t synchronise Folders and and you can’t synchronise Smart Collections. If you’re in the habit of curating your Collections manually it won’t be too much of an issue, but if you’re not a big fan of Collections, or you use Smart Collections a lot, you might have to change your habits and your Lightroom organisation.

This also means that you can’t yet make your whole Lightroom library available everywhere, though I’m suggesting this is a practical/workflow limitation rather than a storage limit – currently Adobe is saying you can synchronise as many images as you like. They are synced in an optimised DNG format, by the way, which is capable of storing and synchronising Lightroom’s non-destructive editing tools across platforms.

So anyway, that restriction to Collections only is annoying, but the rest is easy, and there are two ways to set up a Collection for syncing.

  1. When you create a new Collection, check the ‘Sync with Lightroom mobile’ box in the ‘Create Collection’ dialog.
  2. With an existing Collection, just look for and click the sync button to the left of its name in the Collections panel in the left sidebar. This works like a switch – click it again to stop syncing that Collection.

When you click this button, the only indication you’ll get that anything is happening is a ‘Syncing x photos’ message in the Activity Centre, top left. When the syncing is complete, the message will go. If you add more pictures, remove any or carry out any editing, your changes will be synchronised automatically.

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You can set up a new Collection to sync with Lightroom mobile.

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Or you can click this sync button to the left of the Collection name in the Collections panel.

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Ctrl/right-clicking a Collection name brings up a context menu where you can go straight to the synced folder on the Lightroom website.

Synced Lightroom images online

There is a further option. At the top right corner of any synchronised Collection is a ‘Make Public’ button. Any synced Collections will be visible to you on the lightroom.adobe.com website as part of your Creative Cloud account – ctrl/right-click on the Collection name in the Collections panel and choose Lightroom mobile Links > View on Web. But these are private by default, and it’s only when you choose the ‘Make Public’ option that other people will be able to view them online. Clicking the button generates a simple shortened link that you can send to other people.

Here’s one I made earlier: adobe.ly/1SHCsht.

Try it out – as a visitor, you can change the sort order, play a slideshow or view images in full-screen mode. It’s a simple way of showing other people your pictures in a clean, attractive interface.

When you log into the Lightroom website as its owner, using your Adobe ID, there’s an awful lot more you can do with your images, and I’ll be looking at that in detail in a future post.

Synced folders can be views in any web browser.

Synced folders can be viewed in any web browser.

All your synced collections can be viewed here, but visitors can only see those you've made public and sent a link for.

All your synced collections can be viewed here, but visitors can only see those you’ve made public and sent a link for.

There's a lot more you can do with Lightroom online that I'll cover in a separate post.

There’s a lot more you can do with Lightroom online that I’ll cover in a separate post.

Synced Lightroom images on mobile devices

Once you’ve synced your Collections, they’ll also be available to the free Lightroom Mobile app on your mobile device. This displays all your synced Collections as thumbnails with their titles, and you tap on a Collection to see its contents, then tap on a thumbnail to see a full size photo.

With both the web and mobile versions, you can do more than just view your pictures – you can edit them too, and have your edits synchronised back to the desktop version. I’ll take a look at the mobile editing options in another post.

All your synced Collections will be visible in the Lightroom app on your mobile device.

All your synced Collections will be visible in the Lightroom app on your mobile device.

Tapping a Collection name will open it, offering a near-identical tiled display to the web version.

Tapping a Collection name will open it, offering a near-identical tiled display to the web version.

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You can apply non-destructive edits to images on your mobile device, and these will be synced back to the desktop and web versions.