Unable to Import Most Photos


Today’s Question: I have been unable to download photos from my iPhone or iPad into Lightroom. Only one or two appear, despite there being a few thousand. Is this problem unique to me? Is there a solution?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It sounds like most of your photos are currently being stored in the cloud rather than on your devices. You’ll need to download the photos to the device before they can be discovered by Lightroom.

More Detail: When you enable iCloud synchronization for photos on an iOS device, the primary storage for your photos becomes Apple’s servers rather than your device. If the storage is getting full on one or more of your devices, the original photos will be removed from the device to free up space. It will still appear that the photos are there, meaning you’re able to see the images, but the source files aren’t actually on the device.

When photos are stored in the cloud rather than on your device, there will be a small cloud icon on the photo. This is the indication that the photos are not stored locally, but are stored in the cloud via Apple’s servers.

In the Settings app on your device you can go to your iCloud account and select Photos, you can choose the “Download and Keep Originals” option. However, this requires that you have enough storage space on your device for the photos to be downloaded. If you don’t have enough space you could remove other apps or data to make enough space available.

You can also download photos from the cloud using the Photos app on your computer, or by signing in to iCloud.com. However, you are limited to selecting and downloading less than 1,000 at a time, so you may need to go through several steps to get all your photos downloaded.

Once you have your photos downloaded either to your device or to your computer, they will be available locally so you can import them into Lightroom, for example.