Phone Photos to Lightroom – Automatically!

Posted in Blog, Learn, Lightroom, Sharing Photos

I know I’m easily entertained, but discovering how to have my phone photos load automatically into Lightroom has to count as one of the highlights of my month – maybe year! Takes a few minutes to set up – but works like a charm thereafter!


Images from your phone are COPIED automatically into Dropbox when you take the shots, then whenever you open Lightroom, images are MOVED automatically from your Dropbox folder to the folder of your choice on your system and imported into Lightroom.

Important points

  • The photos WILL remain on your phone
  • The photos will NOT remain in your Dropbox using up your quota – they simply ‘pass through’ to the Lightroom ‘Watched Folder’
  • The photos will NOT re-import from the phone to Dropbox (even though they aren’t in Dropbox any more) so no worries about duplication
  • You can set up the Lightroom import to include your copyright etc

How to set up

Obviously you need to have Lightroom, a phone and a Dropbox account (free up to 3gb – useful for this and soooo many other things! Get @

Dropbox app/program must be downloaded/installed on the same computer as your Lightroom program (in addition to having Dropbox online – go to to download/install).

Note that it’s important to do these steps in the order outlined here!

  1. On your computer, create a folder in Dropbox called Camera Uploads
  2. Enable Lightroom’s Auto Import feature (File > Auto Import > Auto Import Settings) – Generic instructions here
    • Watched Folder: specify the Dropbox > Camera Uploads folder created in Step 1 as the watched folder – important that this is done before starting the upload as it must be set up on an empty folder! Also note that there can only be ONE watched folder, and no subfolders will be included
    • Destination: specify where on your system that you want the images moved TO from Dropbox (I set up a folder called ‘Phone Auto Imports’ in my main pictures folder)
    • File Naming: set up your renaming options if desired (I leave it as it came out of the phone)
    • Information: As on a regular Lightroom import, you can set Develop settings, metadata or keywords to be applied on import. (I turn on only my copyright)
  3. Install the Dropbox app on your phone
  4. Open the Dropbox app on your phone and go to Settings (gear icon bottom right iPhone, Android click the menu icon upper left – looks like 3 bars – then gear icon upper right corner), turn on Camera Upload – click the setting to make sure that it only does it when you are on wi-fi (iPhone – Use Cellular Data – OFF, Android How to Upload – WiFi only)
  5. Your existing images will be copied to Dropbox – may take a while if you have a lot!
  6. Open Lightroom and watch your images float out of the Dropbox folder into the one you designated and show up in the folder you designated in Lightroom!
  7. Using Lightroom – delete, move the images into other folders, edit, share as usual. Note that this will NOT affect the images on your phone. 

A few notes

  • Before your delete them from your phone,  make sure the that all of them have been imported  – especially the first load if you have a lot
  • I had set up the Lightroom mobile sync to do this task before but was not happy with it – slowed down my phone, drained the battery and uploaded images more than once
  • Seems sporadic whether it is uploading images from my Snapseed and VSCO albums so I am not deleting those albums from my phone until it’s clear that it is being done or not

Remember that any new images will automatically go through this process every time you get connected to wifi/open Lightroom – phone images that have already been processed in this way will NOT be re-copied to Dropbox/Lightroom.

Let me know if you have any questions!


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