Lightroom Classic: why no access to synced photos a la Lightroom CC?

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I'm sure this been requested before, but I don't see it. I use LR Classic CC and sync all my photos to the cloud so that I can access them on mobile. So why can't I access those synced photos on LR Classic when I am away from from the original files (which are on an external hard drive at home)?
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David Gleit

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Posted 6 days ago

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Rikk Flohr, Official Rep

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David,

If you are working on a single computer like a laptop and plug in when you are home to an external hard drive but want to work on your files while on the road, and without the hard drive? You need to use the Smart Preview functionality to create Smart Previews of the photos you want to work on while remote so that you can continue working without the originals present. 

You can choose to build smart previews from any subset of files, the synced, the not synced or a mixture. They are stored next to the catalog files and not with the originals and designed for this workflow.


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john beardsworth

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It may help if you think of your use of LRCC on the laptop as being similar to using LR Mobile on your phone or tablet. It doesn't do much more than the mobile apps, so in a sense it is merely "LR Mobile for the laptop".

I don't think you're doing anything wrong having both installed, though working with both is not something Adobe positively suggest. You seem to have understood the limitations, and it is workable when you know what you are doing - and when you don't try to get too clever. So for example, you can use Lightroom Classic to process new images on the laptop, taking advantage of it having far more features than Lightroom Cloudy. You may be working in a copy of your main catalogue with 80000 smart previews, and afterwards you would just copy the catalogue back to your main computer. With normal care, that can work fine. However, I wouldn't be tempted to try and sync from the catalogue while it's on the laptop. It's possible, but there are a few gotchas.

And yes, I think it is a shame that Adobe haven't allowed Lightroom Classic on your laptop to connect to  smart previews synced from elsewhere (or allowed more than one catalogue to sync). I don't think that it would have been a trivial task to bolt this onto a 10+ year end program, but Adobe solve much more difficult problems, don't they?  As it is, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for them to do it.
(Edited)
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David Gleit

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Thanks for the feedback John. My "workaround" is exactly as you describe: I keep LR CC on my laptop along with LR Classic, and use LR CC to view my 80,000 synced images and do light work on them when I am out of the house.

One note: I think I am not alone in having my laptop be my "main computer" - it's powerful enough to be my primary PC for LR Classic. But it doesn't have a ton of storage on the SSD. So that is why I hook it up to an external drive at home, and depend on the cloud when I am away from home. Adobe has been kind enough to keep my 80,000 synced smart previews on the cloud at no extra charge, but it's just a pity that I have to resort to another Adobe product - LR CC - to access them when I take my laptop out of my house.

However, I must say that I'm open to the idea that having both LR CC and LR Classic on the laptop provides more benefits than merely being a workaround. I just did some face recognition on LR CC and the process seemed a lot more user-friendly and effective than the LR Classic was. I'm hoping there are good reasons to use both LR CC and LR Classic, taking advantage of the comparative advantages inherent in each, much the way we use both LR and Photoshop.
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john beardsworth

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I misunderstood your situation slightly, David. With a single computer, I would go with Rikk's initial advice - build as many smart previews as you need, and continue to edit them in Lightroom Classic. Each smart preview is about 1mb, so it's quite possible to have large numbers of them on the laptop. Your catalogue is synced, so edits will be synced up to Adobe's servers whenever you take the laptop online, and you'll be able to use the smart previews in Lightroom Mobile on your phone or tablet. There's no real role here for LRCC.

For any benefit LRCC might bring (I agree its face recognition is better) there are many more capabilities where it is weaker than Lightroom Classic - eg maps, labels, exporting. One thing it is very good at is uploading your originals to Adobe's cloud, so you might use it at home when you want originals available on mobile devices, or when you plan to use LRCC to edit originals when you're away from home.

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David Gleit

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I see. Okay, I'll take your (and Rick's advice) and set up smart previews on my laptop. I guess there's no urgent need to have access to all 80,000 images on LR Classic when I am away from home, so maybe I'll make smart previews of the most recent collections only. I'll probably keep LR CC on my laptop just in case I need to edit/export some old photos that don't have smart previews on the laptop but are in the cloud. Thanks for your help.
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john beardsworth

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I manage this with smart collections. So one of these SCs starts with Has Smart Preview is False, followed by a series of criteria for reasons why I might want to have photos available as smart previews. If this SC has zero items, I know I have smart previews for all those photos. If it is greater than zero, I need to generate smart previews for those items.

eg Has Smart Preview is False, Date < 1 year or Rating . 3 or State = XYZ or Job = ABC or Keywords = Family. Remember Alt/Opt lets you nest criteria when you add them in the SC dialog.

(Edited)