Speeding Up The Lightroom mobile to Desktop Raw Workflow
April 29, 2014
2 comment

My therapist says I’m spending too much time with Lightroom mobile, but dammit Lightroom mobile, I can’t quit you! I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell. I’m just tired. I’m spending so much time trying to make Lightroom mobile useful in my workflow because my Macbook weighs more than I do and (not a joke) the battery covering is melting off. Yeah. So I’m overly motivated to replace my laptop with my iPad for my own health and safety while I am on the road.

I’m at a point now where I have a viable workflow using Lightroom mobile that allows me to originate images on my iPad, do some editing, and then synchronize everything when I get back to my desktop. But right-clicking every image to do a copy-and-paste of my mobile edits on to the raw images aggravates my carpal tunnel. I know, I’m falling apart. But these factors contribute to my unrelenting desire to make my life easier so that I can spend less time doing mundane tasks or exposing myself to whatever is inside of my laptop battery, and more time being a photographer.

To that end, I’ve come up with a faster way to apply the edits I make to the JPG images inside of Lightroom mobile to the raw files that I later import to Lightroom on my desktop. As a reminder, this isn’t for raw images already in Lightroom that you have synchronized with Lightroom mobile. This tutorial is for when you originate the images in to your workflow from your iPad and then want to apply those changes to the raw images that you import at a later time, which will allow you to do some processing on your iPad before the raw files even leave your memory card.

Check out last week’s post for the specifics, but our starting point today is that you’ve imported images to your iPad, made changes, and synchronized them with the desktop. You have also imported the raw files separately on to your desktop and are ready to apply the mobile edits made to the JPG on to the raw images. From this point on, all the steps in the tutorial refer to Lightroom on your desktop, not mobile.

Create A New Collection

First, create a new collection in Lightroom. We just need a place to hold images, so setting it up as a synchronized folder is up to you. I did not bother synchronizing this new collection because I will delete it at the end.

Add The Images

Add both the iPad-originated JPG images and your unprocessed raw images to the same collection. You should have a one-to-one relationship…every raw file has a corresponding JPG. If you don’t because, for example, you deleted a raw or JPG image on the camera itself, you should remove the unmatched image from this collection.

Lightroom Fanatic – Collection With JPG And Raw

Sort The Collection

Sort your collection by capture time (View > Sort > Capture Time). Our goal here is to get the JPG and raw images side by side with the JPG image being shown first. I used Capture Time and Descending because my Nikon had the JPG timestamp before the raw.

lightroom sort collection by capture time

Lightroom Fanatic – Sort By Capture Time

Speed Processing Workflow

Now, select the first JPG image in your collection and head in to the Develop module (D).

jpg image processed in Lightroom mobile

Lightroom Fanatic – Lightroom mobile Processed JPG

Right arrow to next image, which should be the corresponding unprocessed raw image.

lightroom unprocessed raw image

Lightroom Fanatic – Unprocessed Raw Image

Click Previous to apply the edits from the previous image, which in this case was the processed JPG image. So instead of right-clicking, copying, and then right-clicking and pasting, you’ve accomplished the same task with one button click.

lightroom apply edits to raw image using previous jpb

Lightroom Fanatic – Edits Applied To Raw Image

Since your images are ordered in your collection so that it’s process JPG then corresponding raw, you can continue to press your right arrow and click Previous to apply your mobile edits to the raw files quickly and easily until you reach the end of the collection, which should be the last raw file.

Done! Maybe someday someone will create a plug-in to handle these dirty bits, but until then, I hope by using this method you can quickly apply any edits you made in Lightroom mobile to your raw images. If you’ve found a better or faster way to bring your work forward from the iPad, send me a tweet!


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There are 2 comments

  • Jason says:


    Nice piece, very handy. I’m now shooting JPG + Raw, importing the jpeg to LR Mobile, editing and flagging. Back at base, I import the raw in LR, sync the mobile collection and then match up the images as you describe. I can then use the “previous” button to apply the crops etc. to the raw files. great.
    Is there an easy way to transfer the flags from the jpg to the raw file? This would make life much easier!



    • dave says:

      Hi, Jason. Glad you liked the post!

      There is an option to copy metadata, just like copying the develop settings. It’s just not as smooth as clicking “previous” for the develop settings. That’s probably because for most of the flags and stars you can apply with one keystroke, but the development settings would be more involved.

      I think I’d have to click “previous”, then P, 3 (to Pick and 3 Star) then go to the next one since the develop settings don’t include the flags. I’ll try to kick around a few other ideas.

      Thanks for the comment!