Lightroom Classic Remove Local Files but Keep in Cloud?


New to Mu-43
Dec 12, 2020

Does anyone know how to delete photos on the hard disk but still keep them in the cloud space in the lightroom classic? What I have tried:

Suppose we have one photo as /XX/2020/1.jpg. Now we imported it into the lightroom classic library and sync it to cloud (drag it to "All Synced Photographs").
Now this photo is in both "All Photographs" and "All Synced Photographs" catalog.
In order to save hard disk space, I moved /XX/2020/1.jpg to trash.
After this, 1.jpg in both "All Photographs" and "All Synced Photographs" will show "1.jpg could not be used because the original file could not be found. Would you like to locate it?".
This is not what I would expect! I thought 1.jpg should still be accessible because it was uploaded to the cloud!

I tried to google it but didn't find how to achieve this. Can anyone help me?



Mu-43 Regular
Aug 22, 2019
I’m unfamiliar with your approach so don’t have a definitive answer. My workflow begins with CC and ends at Classic.

Try dragging the images to to your CC synced Collection. That will move them to CC, the Cloud. Then deleting them from Classic.

I would have thought by now Adobe would have figured this cloud stuff out. But I run into stuff like this far to often.


Mu-43 Top Veteran
Apr 4, 2014
Springfield, Illinois
I do this with ACDSee and Windows OneDrive "Files on Demand". I can access my files in OneDrive from within ACDSee. How it works in a nutshell is that while the files themselves reside on OneDrive, the file infrastructure & metadata (file, not photo, metadata) reside on the HD. This saves a lot of space and improves the disaster continuity of my photos.

I don't see a significant slowdown in access times, but I do have a 100 mbps internet connection. Since this method sees the files as residing on the local HD, I don't see why Lr, or any other application couldn't use it.


New to Mu-43
Dec 12, 2020
@threeOh @GBarrington Thank you both for providing your solutions!

Here is how I solved it in case anyone would have a similar issue:

First, my Lightroom Classic version is 10.1.1; Lightroom version is 4.1.

The fundamental issue is that Light Classic "sync function" does not truly upload the photos to the cloud.
It only uploads a "smart preview" (a few hundreds KB heavily compressed dng file) - not the original raw or jpg file.
Also, attention that if we delete a photo from Lightroom Classic catalog (when sync is enabled), it will be deleted from the cloud as well.

Now let's consider a real case:

Computer A: Lightroom Classic (synced)
All Photographs: 500
All Synced Photographs: 500

Main: 400 (local directory)
Cloud: 100 (sync directory)

Computer B: Lightroom
(Actually it also applies when there is no Computer B, both Lightroom Classic and Lightroom are installed on Computer A.)

Both Computer A and B can see 500 photos. But these 500 photos are in different situations:

On Computer A - Lightroom Classic,
- 400 raw files which were previously imported into Lightroom Classic, now sit on local disk.
- 100 raw files which were downloaded from the cloud (these were not in the same directory as those 400).

On Computer B - Lightroom,
- 400 smart previews, all edits are synced, they are NOT the original photos, but heavily compressed (noticeably less sharp)
- 100 raw files which were previously imported into Lightroom directly (so end up in the cloud). These are what I consider truly "in the cloud".

After several hours of research, I realized that it is not a good idea to use Lightroom Classic and Lightroom at the same time.
Either choose Lightroom Classic for its powerful features or Lightroom for its flexibility to work across different devices!
Make up the mind to select one of them!
Then next is to solve the inconsistency (methods for both selections are provided):

**Please be very careful about the following steps. Some operations cannot be undone!
**Backup of EVERYTHING (both local and cloud) is strongly encouraged beforehand!

1. *Recommended* Stop using Lightroom (the logic of the cloud is VERY confusing)!
How to migrate the 100 photos in the cloud to the local catalog on Computer A:

1) Uninstall Lightroom on Computer B (in case of any mistakes).

2) On Computer A Lightroom Classic, Preference - Lightroom Sync - Location, click "Specify location for Lightroom's Synced images" and "Use subfolders formatted by capture date". Let's say the location is /XX/Cloud.

3) Enable sync. When sync is done, turn off the sync! The "Cloud" folder should show up in the left "Folders" panel.

4) In the left "Folders" panel, manually move all sub folders of "Cloud" to the main directory.

5) Never turn on sync again. Otherwise there will be duplicates added to the catalog (unless the cloud is empty). Uninstall Lightroom on Computer B.

2. Stop using Lightroom Classic. Upload those 400 raw files to the cloud:

1) Turn off the sync of Lightroom Classic on Computer A.

2) On Computer B Lightroom, use filter "Synced from Lightroom Classic", remove all 400 results (don't worry, these are just smart previews).

3) On Computer A Lightroom Classic, export those 400 raw files as a catalog.

4) Copy the catalog to Computer B. In the Lightroom interface, use "File - Migrate From - Lightroom Classic Catalog" to import all raw photos. Then it will automatically upload the 400 new photos to the cloud. (If there is no Computer B (both Lightroom Classic and Lightroom are in Computer A), and it pops an error "The Lightroom Classic catalog appears to be an exported catalog or has been copied", just double click the catalog to open in Lightroom Classic and close it. Problem magically solved! Thanks to v=RK9PCD1Sj5A.)

5) Now the cloud has 500 raw files in it.

6) Uninstall Lightroom Classic on Computer A.
Last edited:


Mu-43 Regular
Aug 22, 2019
You may be correct with the example you've provided. I don't know as I'm not going to decipher it in terms of my workflow. What I can tell you is the conclusions you reach, "it is not a good idea to use Lightroom Classic and Lightroom at the same time. Either choose Lightroom Classic for its powerful features or Lightroom for its flexibility to work across different devices!" is certainly not the case with me. Or anyone that pays for CC for that matter. The obvious reason being why would it exist in the first place.

Anyone using Lightroom Classic is on a Desktop. A platform that also runs CC. If the person has Classic installed its likely because its his choice. Otherwise, why pay the same for substantially less cloud space? So, its a given, at least for me, if I'm on my desktop, I'm using Classic and any content I create goes to Classic.

Then why pay for CC? For me, when I'm not on my desktop with local drives attached. In that world, I'm an iOS user and employ CC as my travel dam and editor.

I just got back from a brief trip. All mobile (CC) images synced to Classic with me doing nothing, all originals, all resident on my local hard drive, all edits transferred, all IPTC (what I use for keywording that sync's) transferred, no sign of anything other than original files and catalog entries.

You may be right in what you're saying but I'm not sure its what Adobe intended as a use case.


Mu-43 All-Pro
Feb 8, 2020
Eastern Denmark (annexed in 1658 by Sweden)
Real Name
As a comment to Adobe cloud issues:

Google Photos helped me, when deleting my photos from one of my Google accounts, by deleting the same photos from all of my other Google accounts, and from the local devices (which all had sync turned off). Without warning. I might be stupid, but from now on, I won't trust any cloud storage.

After careful, and time consuming, forensic work, I managed to limit my losses to just seven (7) raw files. And, thankfully, these files were all photos of camera equipment for auction purpose.

Local, physical, backup on (several) removable hard drives is the only thing that I would trust from now on!


Mu-43 Regular
Aug 22, 2019
Cloud storage is for convenience. Only. I’ve lost near 5 gig that could not be recovered. It had some fresh data that was created while traveling. That was lost. The rest I had backed up. All the cloud provider had was the same corrupted encrypted image I had. I don’t blame them. There’s risk anytime moving data and apparently our local data bus has better error detection and correction routines than the web offers.

That was my first experience. My second was attending a Microsoft Developer conference and hearing similar stories.

I sort of smile any time I read about the wonders of cloud “backup”.
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