Using Lightroom To Back Up Your iPhone Photos and Videos
April 30, 2013
4 comment

I take a lot of photographs with my iPhone. A lot. To the point where my phone is starting to freak out because I have so many pictures on it. But i still love you, iPhone. I ain’t mad atcha.

The normal backup process that iTunes does is great. In the event that my phone dies (or after an upgrade), a simple restore of the phone copies all the pictures and movies right back to the camera roll. But I’m to the point now where I really need to start deleting things from my phone to free up space.

I had been using iPhoto to grab the pictures and movies off my iPhone for backup purposes, and simply to be able to view them on the computer. iPhoto is great, but it’s another application that i would have to open to import the photographs when i had Lightroom already open 90% of the time. So I set out to incorporate the iPhone in to my Lightroom workflow. It turns out that the process really isn’t that complicated.

First, if you haven’t done it already, tell your computer to stop opening up iPhoto when you plug in your camera. To do this, open the image capture application, select Preferences, and change the “Open Application” accordingly. You can have it not do anything, or have it launch Lightroom. Personally, my iPhone gets plugged in and unplugged so often that it was annoying having the import dialog come up every time, so I opted to not have it do anything when I plug it in. There are similar steps on the Windows side, as well, so just google something like “windows iphone stop opening (your application)”, but its generally right clicking on the iPhone in your Windows Explorer and telling it to not take any action when this device is connected.

OK, so now we have more control over what happens when the iPhone is plugged in. Brilliant. The next step, if you haven’t done it already, is to plug in your iPhone and open up Lightroom.

If it doesn’t come up automatically, select the import option in Lightroom by clicking File > Import Photos and Videos… You’ll see your import screen, something like this:

Lightroom Fanatic - Importing From An iPhone

Lightroom Fanatic – Importing From An iPhone

Under Devices on the top left, you should see your iPhone listed, so go ahead and select it. You’ll be presented with the content of your iPhone in the image preview.

I have a few options set up for mine that I have saved as an import preset called iPhone Backup. First, on the top right under File Handling, I check the Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates option. If you do this, you’ll notice that pictures that have already been imported will appear gray in the view. Don’t be freaked out. Just scroll to the bottom and you’ll see the new images that it’s going to import, or click the New Photos (instead of All Photos) option at the top of the library view.

Under File Renaming, you can rename the photos, if you want. I usually don’t rename my iPhone pictures.

For Destination, I have a folder called iPhone Backup. I put all my iPhone images in to one folder, so the Subfolder box is unchecked.

I don’t apply any Develop Preset to my import, but I do use one of my Metadata Presets to add my copyright and contact information to my images incase I decide to post them on the web. I also add a few keywords to mark the files as part of my iPhone backup.

When you’re ready (don’t forget to save the Import Preset first!), click Import.


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There are 4 comments

  • Rebecca Walters says:

    thank you! very helpful!

  • Brad says:

    Thanks for the info! What do you do about actually deleting photos from the iphone itself?

    • dave says:

      Once they are backed up, I usually go through and delete most of them on the phone itself in a weekly or monthly purge, just leaving the keepers on the phone.