Exploring Hidden Tricks in Adobe Lightroom CC Mobile

Regardless of what your opinion is of Adobe's subscription model, it is fair to say that Lightroom, in all of its variants, has grown into a powerful platform for photographers, especially on the desktop. With that said, the more I use Lightroom CC Mobile on iOS, the more impressed I become.

All Those Nooks and Crannies

There is a particular type of ballet that occurs when software developers, product managers, and UX designers come together around an application. In an ideal scenario, the end of such a recital results in an app that harmonizes around a robust set of features, great performance, and a delightful UI. In reality, such a confluence of events is rare, as development teams engage in a combination of pleading, warring, and acquiescing to strike an important balance.

The truth is that finding a critical balance between features and user experience is harder than it sounds. On one hand, you want to deliver a powerful, feature-rich app, but you also don't want to overwhelm your users, especially the new ones, by surfacing myriad checkboxes, sliders, and toggles. This is where compromises around feature discoverability come into play. On the desktop (and laptop), users have keyboards with several modifier keys that can invoke “hidden” features when combined with other keys. I mean, have you ever seen as complex of a keyboard shortcut as Photoshop's “New Layer of All Visible Layers”? With Lightroom's desktop applications, many critical features are hidden from the user, not even displayed in the menus, unless invoked using modifier keys, most often the Option (Mac) or Alt (Windows) key.

Now, imagine the ingenuity required to incorporate those same hidden features without the use of a keyboard. The easy choice would be to abandon those features altogether, right? Why include them in the mobile port? The more challenging question to ask would be, "Why can't we include them in the mobile port?"

It is the inclusion of these hidden tricks and tools in Lightroom CC Mobile that you begin to see just how similar this seemingly svelte app is to its more robust desktop siblings. Did you ever think that you could use multi-touch gestures to invoke a Clipped Highlights or Shadows mask or quickly convert your photo to grayscale to visualize sharpening? There are a number of powerful hidden features baked right into Lightroom CC Mobile and I recorded this video to show you some of my favorites.

Again, put aside your opinions about subscription models and consider the fact that we have a near-desktop class photo management and editing solution on our mobile devices. That, to me, is such a cool thing to ponder.

Brian Matiash's picture

Brian Matiash is a Portland, OR based professional photographer, published author, and host of the No Name Photo Show podcast. He is also an ambassador for Zeiss, G-Technology, Shimoda, and Wine Country Camera. Brian contributes regularly to a variety of photography publications, both online and in print.

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"... put aside your opinions about subscription models ..." No. I will not. I'm too annoyed by the subscription model and will not put aside my opinion. Nor will I spend money for a subscription. Ponder the coolness of that.

Cool. Thanks for stopping by!

Adobe LR CC for android is garbage. Only good for a few light adjustments and lots of crashing. Photoshop mobile offers the same thing plus more. And never has it crashed on me. If the tech personnal can work the bugs out, Id gladly go back.

The real isue is how the mobile and desktop versions sync files. Especially Classic users. Until you can copy images to an iPad and just sync the catalogue rather than having to upload and redownload the raw files, it"s just not uasble for those with less than perfect internet connections AND an extra Adobe storage.

LR Mobile is actually pretty good but until I can sync the catalogue and it allows me to copy images onto my desktop at home directly from the cards or a portable drive it’s useless. On my last trip I shot 900 inages on my X1D. Not willing to wait for those to upload and redownload. Easier just to take a Surface Pro.


I enjoyed this. I’m a hobbiest photographer, and I recently moved entirely to using Lightroom CC on iOS. (I sold my personal computer.) It doesn’t work for everything, but it’s really nice and extremely convenient for my lifestyle.

My #1 concern right now is lack of having a good backup...

My favorite aspect of it is the long exposure beta. I stopped updating it because it paywalled a few features but it’s the best solution to taking low light photos without blur. If something has major movement it will blur. Makes for a nice affect.