Lightroom Web and Lightroom Mobile

Lightroom Web and Lightroom Mobile

By Douglas Wade

Lightroom on the web is the browser-based version of Lightroom Mobile. Lightroom Mobile connects to Lightroom on your desktop by syncing collections. This allows you to have a subset of your complete catalogue on your devices. Editing in Lightroom Mobile, Lightroom Web and Desktop are all non-destructive editing.

What you can do in Lightroom Mobile is nearly as identical to what you see in Lightroom on the Web or vice versa. However, the web version has a new feature (Technology Previews) which is a search tool, and this is what this article will cover. The mobile version does not yet have search capabilities.

To use the web version of Lightroom, go to  and use your Adobe login. An Adobe login is required. You will need an Adobe account (which is free). The mobile and web versions are designed to work with your subscription version of Lightroom CC. Lightroom version 6 will not work.

When I log into Lightroom web, I come to the Welcome screen. Everyone wants to see their images. Click on the Photos tab across the top.

Clicking on the Photos will show your collections. A collection is where your images are stored in folders, but different. They do not contain the full-size images until you click on an individual image. At that point, Lightroom Web or Mobile will download a full-size version. You can have 5,000 – 10,000 images on your phone without taking up too much room on your device. My Desktop Lightroom images are DNG (Raw images) and they are the same images as on my mobile or Web version of Lightroom. I can non-destructively edit those RAW files. The Camera app on the Android version can shoot in RAW, but my phone does not support it. Samsung has it turned off on my Galaxy Note 4.


Have you ever searched in Lightroom on your desktop? The search is very literal. You search for some metadata and it will find it. If you use keywords, the results can be complete. How about searching for the word ‘dog’? On my desktop version, I use keywords for my dog by his name, not ‘dog’. Lightroom Web will find images of all ‘dogs’ with and without metadata. Your images are being catalogued by some really cool search technology. This search is under the new Technology Previews on the web version. To launch a search, login to the web version and click the LR menu in the upper left to open the menu, then select the first item, Technology Previews.

Next, click the checkbox to enable Search. Search is not turned on my default. It may take 10 minutes or longer for Adobe to index your photos.

To search, just type in the search box.

Click in the search box and enter something to search. What will it search? It will obviously search for titles and captions. But, few photographers are diligent to add them. I was disappointed that I have to enter exactly the right phase. For example, if I enter DTLA I get 569 results (I have a lot of images from Down Town Los Angeles in my collections). However, if I truncate the DTL (remove the last A), it reports no images, neither does DTL* (asterisk as a wildcard). It does not yet support wildcards. Hopefully, the search functionality will grow and improve before they release the search in the mobile version (when fully functional it will be removed from the “Technology Previews.” area)

Metadata plus intelligence

What Adobe is doing with search is adding intelligence. It obviously uses metadata for searching, but it also uses recognition techniques. Intelligence allows you to search for objects and themes in your photos – for example, find all photos with cats in them or all photos with red in them – without having added keywords. But, it is so new, it even asks you if the results were what you expected. They are working on improving every day. When I searched for “Black and White”, I got 30 images. Eight of them were in color and only one of my brown and white dog. According to Adobe, my dog is black and white in a color image. When I searched for “Car” I got 354 photos and for “Cars” I got 26. This is interesting because the cars were not always the predominant feature in the image, they they were in the image.


Searching for “women” worked pretty well, even detecting photos of women which had no related keywords. Here I tried a vague term “mountain” that probably isn’t anywhere in the metadata, and I’d say it did a reasonably good job of finding matching images.


The search is doing a good job on the intelligence side, but still not so good on the metadata side using wildcards. I will continue to use the mobile and web-based versions, and they are getting updated often. After seeing the intelligence side of search, I am hoping that technology will make it into my catalogue of my desktop version. When it does, i do not think i will need keywords any more.


In summary, the first Technology Preview recently made available is Search, and when coupled with the new intelligent image analysis technology, you will be able to search through any image you have synchronized online, either with Lightroom mobile, Lightroom on the web, or with Lightroom desktop through a synchronized collection.