Today’s Question: When I turn off synchronization for a collection in Lightroom Classic the album representing that collection no longer appears on the Lightroom mobile app but the photos remain. How do I get the photos to go away?
Tim’s Quick Answer: When you disable synchronization for a collection of photos in Lightroom Classic the photos themselves remain in your cloud-based storage. To remove them you’ll need to remove them from the “All Synced Photographs” collection in Lightroom Classic.
More Detail: One of the things I find frustrating about how cloud-based synchronization is implemented in the Adobe Lightroom ecosystem is that it is relatively easy to add photos to your cloud-based storage but somewhat difficult (or at least confusing) to remove those photos later.
For photographers using Lightroom Classic to manage their photos, synchronizing to the cloud involves adding photos to a collection and then enabling synchronization for that collection. Copies of the photos will then be uploaded to cloud-based storage associated with your Adobe Creative Cloud plan. At that point you can access your photos from the Lightroom mobile app or even through a web browser at https://lightroom.adobe.com.
If you later decide you want to disable synchronization for a collection in Lightroom Classic, your photos won’t actually get removed from the cloud-based storage. The album representing the synchronized collection will disappear when you turn off synchronization, but the photos will remain. This can lead to confusion about where your photos actually are and cause a bit of clutter in your cloud-based storage.
To remove these “left behind” photos from your cloud-based storage you need to remove the photos from the “All Synced Photographs” collection in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module in Lightroom Classic. To do so, in the grid view display simply select the photos you want to remove, right click on one of the selected photos, and choose “Remove from All Synced Photographs” from the popup menu. This will remove the photos from the “All Synced Photographs” collection, and also remove them from cloud-based storage. The original photos will remain in your Lightroom Classic catalog and on your hard drive, since only copies of the photos had been synchronized to the cloud.
This workflow is relatively straightforward, but it can be problematic if you don’t keep track of which photos require action. For example, before disabling synchronization for a collection you may want to mark the photos within that collection with a color label or other marker so you know which photos to remove from the “All Synced Photographs” collection after disabling synchronization for the collection.
I discussed this issue in the context of synchronizing photos from a mobile device such as a smartphone into Lightroom Classic in the August 2022 issue of my Pixology magazine for photographers. If you’re not already a Pixology subscriber you can learn more here: