Desktop versus Cloud


Today’s Question: Is Lightroom no longer available as a local (desktop) based application, or is it only a cloud only based application?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Lightroom Classic is indeed still available as a desktop-based application that does not require cloud-based storage. That is in addition to the cloud-based version of Lightroom that runs on the desktop but revolves around cloud-based storage. As with most Adobe applications, both of these versions of Lightroom require a Creative Cloud subscription.

More Detail: Both Lightroom Classic and Lightroom are desktop applications that run on your computer. There are also mobile and web browser-based versions of Lightroom.

The two desktop applications both require a Creative Cloud subscription, such as the Creative Cloud Photography Plan ( Both of these applications are able to store photos in the cloud, meaning on servers via an internet connection. The key difference is the way overall storage of your photos is managed.

With Lightroom Classic, you manager your photo storage yourself locally. That would typically mean storing your photos on one or more hard drives, for example. Photos are only synchronized to the Adobe Creative Cloud servers if you add photos to a collection with synchronization enabled.

With the cloud-based version of Lightroom, the cloud-based storage is your primary storage. Provided there is enough storage space on your computer, all of your photos can also be synchronized to the computer. But if there is not enough storage space, all of your photos will be on the Creative Cloud servers, but won’t necessarily be synchronized to your computer. In addition, you don’t have direct control over the folder structure for your photos with the cloud-based version of Lightroom, so you would need to use albums, keywords, and other features in place of a folder structure for organizing photos.

My personal preference is to use Lightroom Classic to manage my workflow, in large part because I prefer to manage my storage locally, and don’t want or need to have every single photo synchronized via the internet. However, each photographer should consider their own priorities when choosing between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom, or different software altogether.