Adobe Brings Lightroom to Your iPad, But Only for Creative Cloud Subscribers


After showing off early versions on photography shows and leaking a troubling $100/year Lightroom for iPad page momentarily earlier this year, Adobe has finally dropped the iOS version of Lightroom in our laps for free.

Well, actually, that depends. If you’re a Creative Cloud subscriber, chances are this app was just dropped in your lap for free. If you’re not, then Adobe has turned something of a cold shoulder to your plight… you can’t even buy it.

Lightroom Mobile — Adobe’s new addition to the family that brings many of the powerful RAW editing tools you’re used to on the desktop version to iOS — is finally official, and having seen a demo of it in action we have to say it’s also quite impressive.

The most common adjustments like Exposure, Contrast, Saturation, Clarity, Sharpening and so on and so forth are all available on the iPad version, and they’ve been implemented in such a way as to not take up all the precious little memory that your iPad boasts. Plus, the entire interface is built to be as touch friendly as possible, with swipes, taps and multi-touch gestures allowing you to do everything from flagging a photo to looking up metadata.


Pretty much everything that happens on Lightroom Mobile happens over the air using Smart Previews as the iOS app syncs seamlessly with the desktop version. You never have to work with a full-sized RAW file and all of the megabytes that entails; instead, Lightroom Mobile will create and show you Smart Previews of every image in the catalogs you choose to make available on mobile.

That, of course, comes with the caveat that you have to be online when you’re using the app, but if you know in advance that you’re going to be without Internet for any given time, you do have the option to download individual catalogs for offline editing.

All of the edits sync automatically with the desktop version almost the instant you make them, or in the case of offline editing, just as soon as you regain an Internet connection. And any photos that are being synced between the two versions will also be available to view in your web browser at

Here’s an intro video, as well as four tutorials that will make sure you hit the ground running when you first open the app:

It’s worth noting that this isn’t, and in fact isn’t meant to be, a replacement for the desktop version. There are features that are missing including, most conspicuously, the ability to sync your iPad with your SLR and pull files.

That’s why this is being branded as a “companion app,” because while it will definitely make your life easier when you’re traveling or you want to do some light editing on the couch at home, it won’t enable you to ditch your computer entirely.

It does, however, bring some minor additional functionality like instant sharing to social networks, a slideshow feature that lets you show off your work more easily and the ability to import directly from your Camera Roll in case you have some mobile photos you feel deserve the Lightroom treatment.


As we said at the top, Lightroom Mobile is available right away, but only if you have a Creative Cloud subscription. Members of the oft-renewed Photoshop Photography Program or subscribers with a CC Complete, CC Student and Teacher or CC for Teams Complete plan will all be able to download the app and start using it right away.

Compatibility for now is limited to iPad 2 and above running iOS 7 (coming soon to iPhone, with an Android version currently in the works). You’ll also need to update your current desktop version of Lightroom to 5.4.

To learn more, head over to Adobe’s LR Mobile website or blog by clicking here and here, respectively, or download the app for yourself from the iTunes App Store. If you don’t have a creative cloud subscription, you can ‘get started with Lightroom Mobile’ at this link.

  • Caslar

    I was excited to hear about Lightroom Mobile. :-)

    I had 2 scenarios where I thought that this would be a great addon to my workflow.

    a). I shoot large events where I could shoot anywhere from 500 – 4000 images. Intially my illusion was that I could backup my cards at the end of the event, import into Lightroom and sync to my iPad. I could even make a quick selection while at the event and show the client a quick slideshow on my iPad. The main selection would have been while travelling, I could pick and reject, do the sorting and when I got home I could sync back to my desktop and process the selection.

    b). At a photoshoot, it was my illision that I’d be able to thether my camera to my laptop with my CamRanger, auto import into Lightroom and sync to the Ipad. With this feature I could litteraly give the client the iPad, they could sit at a distance in comfort and could select and reject as I shoot without the need for them to sit at my computer.

    Sadly, it is not to be! The use of the cloud here is the showstopper for me. Yes I have a great internet connection (100MB) for the cloud roundtrip, but this is not how I was expecting it to work.

    I was expecting it to work locally, either plugged in or over my local network wifi.

    I experimented with 20 RW images and created Smart Previews and it just took way to long. The kind of long thats just frustrating, the kind where you’d throw your iPad against the wall (only joking). Even just editing the name of the collection on the iPad took way to long to sync back.

    I can understand the need to logon for subscription authentication, but the cloud hosting is going to kill the use of this product.

    So after a brief engagement with a great idea, I am sadly dismissing this product straight away. :-(

  • mikewren

    Have you looked at Photosmith for iPad? This is precisely what we do – and without ongoing subscription fees or cloud syncing.

    We sync metadata – keywords, star ratings, captions, and other text-based metadata.

  • mikewren

    This is something Photosmith offers – Local sync with Lightroom, without the subscription. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about it.