Sync Photos to Smartphone


Today’s Question: I understand your discussion about transferring photos from an iPhone to a computer, especially where you suggest deleting all the photos from the phone. I am wondering if it is possible to transfer photos from a computer to an iPhone. My thought is to transfer all the phone photos to the computer; delete, save, process them; delete them from the phone; and then copy a few back to the iPhone. Can that be done?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, this can be done. You could simply synchronize collections from Lightroom Classic so they are available as albums in the Lightroom mobile app, or you could synchronize folders that contain copies of selected photos directly to your smartphone.

More Detail: As I’ve addressed previously, I prefer to treat my smartphone as a normal camera in the context of my photos, and so I periodically download all photos from my iPhone, import them into my Lightroom Classic catalog, and then delete the source photos from the iPhone.

Naturally, I would like to have some photos available for sharing and other purposes on my phone, so I synchronize selected images for this purpose.

One option is to simply enable synchronization for the collections that contain photos you want to make available on your smartphone. To enable synchronization for a collection in Lightroom Classic you turn on the checkbox to the left of the collection name on the left panel in the Library module. That will cause the photos to be synchronized to your Adobe Creative Cloud account, so that they will then also be available as albums representing the collections in the Lightroom mobile app.

My personal preference is to synchronize folders of derivative photos directly to my smartphone. I export copies of photos as JPEG images at a reduced resolution to an appropriately named folder, with that folder used as the album name on my iPhone within the Photos app. I put those folders in the Pictures folder, which is the default location for synchronizing photos from a computer to an iPhone.

With folders containing the photos I want to synchronize back to my iPhone, I then enable those specific folders for synchronization. You could also enable the option to synchronize all photos in the Pictures folder, but I prefer to enable specific folders.

For Macintosh users you can find your iPhone on the left panel of a Finder window when you have your iPhone plugged in to the computer. Windows users can use the iTunes application. In either case you can then go to the Photos tab for synchronization settings and choose which folders of photos you want to have synchronized to your iPhone.

With this approach, whenever you add photos to one of the folders that has synchronization enabled those photos will be synchronized to your iPhone whenever you synchronize with your computer again.