Introduction to Lightroom’s Multi-device Capability

Adobe Lightroom, a leading photo-editing software, has evolved over the years to cater to the needs of photographers and designers. With the advent of Lightroom Classic and Cloud-based Lightroom, users now have options to Install Lightroom on second computer

  • Lightroom Classic vs. Cloud-based Lightroom:
    • Lightroom Classic is the traditional version of Lightroom that many professionals have come to love. It primarily stores photos on the user’s computer.
    • On the other hand, the Cloud-based Lightroom offers the convenience of storing photos in the Adobe Cloud, making them accessible from any device.
  • Importance of Understanding the Difference:
    • It’s crucial for users to understand the difference between these two versions. While Lightroom Classic might appeal to those who prefer having their photos and catalogs stored locally.
    • the Cloud-based Lightroom is perfect for those who want seamless access across devices and are comfortable with cloud storage. This distinction can significantly impact one’s workflow, especially when working on multiple devices.

Things You Should Know Before Install Lightroom on Second Computer

Lightroom Classic vs. Cloud-based Lightroom

When deciding between Lightroom Classic and Cloud-based Lightroom, it’s essential to understand their core differences:

Lightroom Classic vs. Cloud-based Lightroom
  • Data Storage Differences:
    • Lightroom Classic: Primarily stores photos on the user’s local computer. This means that all your images and edits are saved directly on your device’s storage.
    • Cloud-based Lightroom: Stores photos in the Adobe Cloud, allowing users to access their images from any device, anywhere. This is especially useful for those constantly on the move.
  • Syncing Capabilities:
    • Lightroom Classic: This does not automatically sync between devices. If you edit a photo on one device, those changes won’t appear on another unless manually synced.
    • Cloud-based Lightroom: Automatically syncs edits and photos across all devices connected to your Adobe account. This ensures a consistent editing experience no matter where you are.

Limitations of Using Lightroom Classic on Two Computers

Using Lightroom Classic on two computers presents its own set of challenges:

  • Photo Storage and Syncing Issues:
    • Since Lightroom Classic stores photos locally, you won’t have the same set of photos on two different devices unless you manually transfer them. This can be cumbersome for those who frequently switch between devices. Understanding how to restore Lightroom Classic catalogs can help.
  • Subscription Options and Storage Plans:
    • Adobe offers various subscription plans, each with its storage limits. While Cloud-based Lightroom users need to be mindful of their cloud storage limits, Lightroom Classic users should be aware of their local storage capacities.

Installing Lightroom Classic on a Second Computer

Source: The Visual Center

Setting Up Your Primary Computer

Before you can use Lightroom Classic on a second computer, it’s essential to set up your primary device correctly:

  • Locating the Lightroom Classic Catalog File:
    • The catalog file is the heart of your Lightroom experience. It contains all your edits, metadata, and references to your photo locations.
    • To locate it, open Lightroom, go to the ‘Edit’ menu (or ‘Lightroom’ menu on Mac), select ‘Catalog Settings’, and under the ‘General’ tab, you’ll find the location of your catalog file.
  • Preparing the Catalog for Transfer:
    • Before transferring, ensure that you’ve backed up your catalog. This can be done within the same ‘Catalog Settings’ window. It’s also wise to close Lightroom to prevent any changes while transferring.

Transferring the Catalog to an External Drive

Moving your catalog to an external drive is a crucial step:

  • Files to Copy and Their Importance:
    • The primary files to copy are Catalog.lrcat, Previews.lrdata, and Smart Previews.lrdata. These files contain your catalog, standard previews, and smart previews, respectively.
    • Together, they ensure you have a seamless editing experience on any device.
  • Using the External Drive with Lightroom Classic:
    • Once the files are on the external drive, you can connect this drive to any computer with Lightroom Classic installed.
    • When launching Lightroom, hold the ‘Alt’ (or ‘Option’ on Mac) key to select the catalog from your external drive. This way, you’re always working with the latest version of your catalog.

Setting Up the Second Computer

With your catalog on an external drive, setting up a second computer becomes straightforward:

  • Installing Lightroom Classic:
    • Install Lightroom Classic on the second computer. You can download it from the Adobe website. Remember, you’ll need to sign in with your Adobe account to verify your license.
  • Accessing the Catalog from the External Drive:
    • Connect the external drive to the second computer. Launch Lightroom Classic and, as mentioned earlier, hold the ‘Alt’ (or ‘Option’ on Mac) key to select the catalog from the external drive.
    • Understanding Lightroom Classic catalogs can provide more insights.

Installing Cloud-based Lightroom on a Second Computer

Downloading and Installing Lightroom

The process of installing the Cloud-based Lightroom is straightforward and offers the advantage of accessing your photos from anywhere:

  • Accessing the Installer:
    • To get started, visit the Adobe Creative Cloud website. Once logged in, navigate to the apps section and locate Lightroom. Here’s a direct link to the Adobe Apps section for convenience.
  • Installation Process:
    • Click on the ‘Install’ option next to Lightroom. The installer will download, and you can then run it. Follow the on-screen instructions, and in a few minutes, Lightroom will be ready on your second computer.

Syncing Your Catalog on the Second Computer

With Cloud-based Lightroom, syncing your catalog across devices is a breeze:

  • Benefits of Cloud Syncing:
    • Automatic Sync: Any edits or additions you make on one device will automatically reflect on others. This ensures a consistent editing experience.
    • Access Anywhere: Whether you’re on a desktop, tablet, or phone, your photos and edits are just a few taps away. This is especially useful for professionals on the move.
  • Limitations and Considerations:
    • Storage Limits: Depending on your subscription, there’s a limit to how much you can store in the Adobe cloud. It’s essential to keep an eye on this, especially if you deal with large RAW files.
    • Internet Dependency: To access the latest versions of your photos and edits, you’ll need a stable internet connection.

Tips and Recommendations

Backup and Performance Tips

When working with Lightroom, especially across multiple devices, it’s essential to ensure the safety of your data and maintain optimal performance:

  • Importance of Backing Up the External Drive:
    • Safety First: External drives, like all hardware, can fail. Regularly backing up your Lightroom catalog and photos ensures you won’t lose your precious work. Consider using cloud storage or another external drive for backups.
  • Performance Considerations with External Drives:
    • Drive Speed: Not all external drives are created equal. For smooth performance in Lightroom, consider using a drive that supports USB 3.0 or higher. SSDs (Solid State Drives) offer faster read/write speeds compared to traditional HDDs (Hard Disk Drives).
    • Catalog Size: A larger catalog can slow down performance. Regularly optimizing your catalog (found under the ‘File’ menu in Lightroom Classic) can help maintain speed.
    • Hardware Limitations: Ensure that both your primary and secondary computers meet the minimum requirements for running Lightroom. Adobe’s official documentation provides insights into hardware considerations.


Can I use Lightroom on more than two computers?

Yes, you can install Lightroom on second computers. However, with a standard Adobe subscription, you can be signed in and actively use Lightroom on two computers at a time. If you wish to use it on a third, you’ll need to sign out on one of the initial devices.

How does Lightroom Classic differ from the cloud-based version?

Lightroom Classic is primarily desktop-based, storing photos locally, while the cloud-based version stores photos in the Adobe Cloud, allowing for easier access across devices.

What are the limitations of using Lightroom Classic on multiple devices?

The main limitation is the lack of automatic syncing between devices. Any edits made on one device won’t reflect on another unless manually transferred, making the workflow less seamless compared to the cloud-based version.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

Choosing between Lightroom Classic and the cloud-based version largely depends on individual needs. If you prioritize local storage and control, Lightroom Classic is the way to go.

However, for those who value accessibility and seamless syncing across devices, the cloud-based version is a game-changer.

Regardless of the choice, the key is to ensure a smooth workflow. Regular backups, understanding the software’s capabilities, and optimizing performance are all crucial.

By staying informed and adapting to changes, you can harness the full power of Lightroom and elevate your photo-editing experience.

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