I was asked this question recently, and wanted to share my thoughts about the short answer, and the longer answer.
One caveat, this article and answers are directed at people who are primarily Lightroom Classic (LrC) users who are interested in also syncing their LrC catalog to the cloud. If you are primarily a Lightroom (Lr) user, then it really is simplest to just stick to using Lr on all of your devices and moving forward from there.
The Short Answer
The short answer often given to this question is, no, pick one or the other, stick with that, and don’t look back. I have given that answer in the past, and depending on the context, am likely to give it again in the future. Why? Because that is the simplest and safest direct answer when you don’t have the time or context to explain the difference between the apps, or what the heck is the Lightroom Ecosystem, and so on. Sometimes you only have one sentence, and picking one or the other is not bad advice for someone just starting out.
The Longer Answer
If the time and space allows, I’m happy to delve into the whys, hows, benefits, and pitfalls, but that is sometimes more info than the innocent person asking the question expects to receive. Over the past few years I’ve written a number of articles about these issues, and so, if you want the longer answer … here’s my take.
Sure, you can absolutely install and run both Lightroom Classic (LrC) and Lightroom (Lr) on the same computer. In this context you’ll often hear Lr referred to as Lightroom Desktop as if that somehow magically differentiates it from the original desktop app named Lightroom Classic, never mind, don’t get me started on the name thing again. But I digress …
In fact, I’ve always run them both on the same computer, as well as on different computers, plus my mobile devices. That’s the beauty of all of the apps in the so called Lightroom Ecosystem in that each is like a dummy terminal view into the work stored in the Lightroom cloud. Here are some additional benefits to installing Lr on your Mac or Windows computer:
- You can access filters for viewing the contents of the Lightroom cloud that only exist in the Lr app for Mac/Win to help you manage your cloud storage amount.
- You can import your Lightroom Classic presets into the Lightroom cloud through the Lr app.
- You can more easily see what settings a single preset contains in Lr than LrC.
- Here are even more reasons.
So, if those are the benefits, what are the downsides? Well, the big one is accidentally ending up with a duplicate local folder structure of full resolution photos. If you are to do this, then first rule of Lightroom Club is that LrC seeks its “truth” locally (meaning the catalog and photos it refers to are all stored on locally accessible hard drives). The second rule is that all full resolution photos in the cloud will automatically download into LrC. The third rule is that LrC has no way to upload full resolution photos to the cloud. And the fourth rule is that while Lr has the ability to store a copy of all photos locally, its “truth” is always in the cloud. I told you this was the longer answer.
By default, the Lr app does not store copies of your photos locally in a way that you can access from outside of Lr. But, if you are only using the Lr ecosystem, there is a preference you can enable to say, hey Lightroom, could you also store a locally copy of all imported phots in addition to everything stored in the cloud?
My advice to all LrC users who wish to try installing Lr on the same computer as LrC is to leave that checkbox unchecked. Why? Because you already have a local copy of all imported photos in LrC. Yes, you should have a local backup system in place, but this is not it.
Furthermore, while we’re looking at that Local Storage panel of the Lr Preferences, you might want to dial down the size of the photo cache. By default, that is set to 25% of your remaining disk space. That’s probably way more space than a LrC user needs because you’re only using Lr as a window into the cloud, not as your primary photo editing tool. I’ve dialed mine down to 5%. This way the Lr app has a relatively small footprint on my computer, and I can still take advantage of all the benefits I mentioned above. So, that’s my take. What do you think? Do any of you use these two apps together on the same computer? Any other benefits or pitfalls worth mentioning?