Turning Off Sync Doesn’t Remove Photos


Today’s Question: I just watched your Lightroom Summit presentation about Cloud storage. If we “unsync” a collection via Lightroom Classic, do those photos disappear from the cloud or do we have to remove them from cloud storage via the process you demonstrated?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you turn off synchronization for a collection in Lightroom Classic, the photos in that collection will not be removed from cloud storage automatically. You would need to remove them manually, checking to make sure they aren’t included in any other synchronized collections first.

More Detail: When you enable synchronization for a collection in Lightroom Classic, the photos in that collection are synchronized to the cloud, so that they are accessible from anywhere in the Lightroom ecosystem. For example, you can then browse those photos in the Lightroom mobile app or in Lightroom through a web browser.

However, if you turn off synchronization for a collection, the photos in that collection are not removed from cloud-based storage, even if the photos are not included in any other collection that has synchronization enabled.

I therefore recommend taking an approach where you keep track of the photos you want to remove from cloud-based storage. This can be important so that you don’t end up with photos orphaned in cloud storage, where they are taking up storage space and creating clutter but aren’t included in any collections or albums.

So, for example, before disabling synchronization for a collection you could mark all the photos in the collection with a unique attribute that you don’t use for any other purpose such as a color label. You can then disable synchronization for the collection and go to the All Synced Photographs collection in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module.

Within the All Synced Photographs collection you can set a filter for the attribute you used to mark the photos. Then review those photos to see if they are included in any other collections that have synchronization enabled. If you determine the photos don’t need to be in cloud storage at all, you can select the photos, right-click, and choose “Remove from All Synced Photographs” from the popup menu. This will remove the selected photos from cloud-based storage and from any collections they were included in that had synchronization enabled. The source photos, of course, will remain in your catalog and on your hard drive.