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The Definitive List of What You Can and Can’t Do in Lightroom CC Compared to Classic

Are you thinking about moving from Lightroom Classic (i.e. the Lightroom program that has been around for 10 years) to the new cloud-based Lightroom CC desktop program?  It’s great that with this new application we can access all of our photos anywhere (on mobile devices,, and on multiple computers running Lightroom CC), but the application is still light on features.

My intention is to keep this article up-to-date with what you can and can’t do in Lightroom CC desktop that you can do in Lightroom Classic. Please help me keep this up-to-date – comment below with additions and corrections! (This article is currently updated through October 2018.)

What you can do     

What you can’t do     


  • The Import dialog is very simple – select a source folder or device, then select all or a subset of the photos and videos in that source to import. Optionally, choose an album (collection) to assign the photos to as they are imported.

  • There are  functions to migrate your Lightroom Classic catalog and Apple Photos catalog into Lightroom CC.

  • Review photos in Loupe view prior to Import (grid view only)

  • Sort files in the Import dialog by file type or any other criterion except capture date

  • Apply a develop or metadata preset or keywords

  • Convert to DNG

  • Rename files

  • Make a Second Copy to (but files will be backed up to the cloud)

  • Assign a destination folder (The user does not manage files in LR CC. In Preferences you can choose whether to store a copy of all imported files on your computer rather than just in the cloud and specify the location for that.)

  • Import from Elements, iPhoto (though you can export from these programs and then import manually, or use Lightroom Classic to import from these and then migrate your Classic catalog to Lightroom CC.)

  • Tethered capture

  • Auto Import (from watched folder)


  • In Lightroom CC you can assign stars and pick and reject flags. You can work in grid view or in single-photo view (Edit, Information, or Keyword views).

  • Assign color labels

  • Survey view, Compare view

  • Auto advance to the next photo after rating or flagging

File Management

  • There are two grid (thumbnail) views that toggle with the shortcut G – Square and Photo. Square shows no photo information. Photo shows stars, flags and sync status.

  • You can’t change what information displays in the grid.

  • You can sort photos in the grid by capture date, filename, import date, modified date, star rating.

  • You can’t sort manually or by edit count, flag, aspect ratio, file type, or file extension.

  • You can add photos to  albums (known as collections in Lightroom Classic) and nest albums in folders (known as collection sets in Classic).

  • There is no album filter for finding albums in a long list of them.

  • There are no smart (rule-based) collections and no quick collection.

  • You can set an album to be the target album.

  • You can stack photos manually to link them together and so they take up less space in the grid when the stack is collapsed. (Stacking in either program is not visible in mobile or web.)

  • There is no auto-stack by capture time.

  • In the Information (I) panel you can type in the following metadata: Title, Caption, Copyright, and Location. You can view limited metadata: the before-mentioned fields, filename, camera, lens, file size, exposure, ISO, focal length.

  • There are no metadata presets and you can’t sync metadata from one photo to one or more others.

  • Reverse geocoding (population of city, state and country fields) is automatically done on files with GPS coordinates.

  • There’s no way to manually assign GPS coordinates (no Map module) or to define saved locations.

  • You can add keywords to photos, but they are flat.

  • Hierarchical keywords are not supported.

  • There is no available keyword list to manage, no keyword sets, and no synonyms. You can’t specify what keywords will export – all will.

  • There is no painter tool for “spraying” information onto photos.

  • In Lightroom CC you can right-click and Make a Copy. While technically these are real-file copies, not virtual copies as Classic has, the functionality is essentially the same.

  • You can change/correct capture date and time.

  • Lightroom CC does detect faces and you can name them

  • You can’t manually identify a face in a photo (i.e. draw a face region) if Lightroom CC doesn’t detect it.


What Else You Can’t Do:

  • File renaming

  • Conversion to or validation of DNG

Searching for Photos (and Videos)

  • You can filter on keywords, stars, flags, photo vs. video, camera, location, sync status and people. You can select two or more in a list – for example, two keywords – and an OR condition will be applied. 

  • AND conditions within one filter criterion (e.g. keyword A AND keyword B)

  • There are no filters for other metadata fields.

  • Searches are otherwise done with a single Search field. This feature requires internet access and requires that syncing of the photos to the cloud first be completed. (You won’t be able to use Search right after import.) Search is driven by Adobe’s “Sensei” technology, which can analyze image content.  You can do a search for “dogs”, for example, and it will find photos with dogs regardless of whether the photos have a “dogs” keyword.  Results can be impressive, but there will be false positives (photos will be returned that don’t have dogs in them) and false negatives (there will be photos in your library that have dogs but aren’t returned). Search facets (e.g. camera:) will give you a dropdown of available fields (like filtering, but requires an internet connection).

  • AND and OR conditions cannot be explicitly specified with Search. (“dogs,cats”, “dogs and cats”, “dogs or cats” returns roughly the same results.)

  • Use of the Search field for finding images based on metadata for which there aren’t facets is hit and miss. For example, it won’t return ISO 100 images.

  • There is no way to do a text search of a particular field, such as title (unless it is on the predefined list of facets, such as camera:). You can search for files based on full filenames, but not partial ones. You cannot save searches.

Other Functions in Lightroom Classic’s Library Module

  • Photomerge HDR, Panorama

  • Impromptu slideshow

  • View and respond to comments, likes in shared collections

  • Zoom beyond 2:1

  • Quick Develop (processing one or more images in Grid view)

  • Histogram in grid view

  • Customized identity plate

  • Collection-specific syncing (all photos are synced)

  • Dual monitor support

Single-Photo Editing

Adobe has stated that in terms of editing capabilities their goal is to have parity amongst Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC Desktop and Lightroom mobile and web. Here’s what you can and can’t do right now in Lightroom CC:

  • Most of Lightroom’s tools for editing individual photos are present. Some have been rearranged into different panels. (For example, some sliders from Classic’s Basic panel are in Light, and some are in Color and Effects.)

  • Red Eye / Pet Eye tool

  • Range Mask (Luminance, Color, Depth)

  • Green and purple fringing

  • Camera Calibration: color sliders (that almost no one uses!), process version (in LR CC, process version is automatically updated)

  • Change default Develop settings

Editing Presets

  • You can create presets in Lightroom CC, and choose to include all or any subset of edits. 

  • You can use presets created in Lightroom Classic if you import them. (Update: starting with CC 1.4, the first time you open Lightroom CC after updating, your Classic presets will sync over just once – after that you’ll need to import new or updated ones manually.)

Editing Multiple Photos

  • Copy and Paste all or a subset of global settings from one photo to one or more other photos. (This is now the equivalent of Sync in Lightroom Classic, except that there’s still no direct way to apply a preset to more than one photo.)

  • Work on many at once (Auto Sync)

  • Previous

Other Lightroom Classic Editing Capabilities

  • Soft proofing

  • Reference view

  • Zoom beyond 2:1

  • Step-by-step edit history

  • Changing the definition of “Before” to a specific history step

  • Snapshots

  • Before/After side by side (Can toggle with “\” key)

  • Drag on histogram to edit tones

  • Display of RGB values

  • Detail preview window

  • Auto set of blacks, whites with shift-double-click

Editing in External Editors

  • You can right-click on an image and choose to Edit in Photoshop – this will create a TIFF file and send it to Photoshop.

  • Export directly to other editors like Elements, Paint, etc.

  • Control color space, file type, filename, bit depth

Support for Video Files

  • Import, watch, rate and flag, add other metadata and put them into albums

  • Trim

  • Capture poster frames (i.e. capture JPEG files of individual frames in the video)

  • Edit / Develop


  • Export full-size and resized JPEGs (specified by “Long Edge” size only). All will have Quality=80 and Color Space=sRGB.

  • Export in original file format (plus settings – contained in file, or in XMP file if proprietary raw file)

  • Export JPEGs with custom compression level (Quality) or in color spaces/profiles other than sRGB

  • Export TIFFs or PSDs (except if this was the original file format)

  • Export DNGs (except if this was the original file format), no compression or resizing of DNGs

  • Watermark photos

  • Add exported files to catalog automatically

  • Specify what metadata to include

  • Output sharpening

  • Have Lightroom CC burn CDs/DVDs

  • Email directly from Lightroom CC

  • Publish services (manage exports so you know when you have edited something you already exported; upload to SmugMug, Flickr, other services). (You can upload to Adobe Portfolio.)


  • Share to Facebook (until August 1, 2018, at which time it won’t be possible from either Lightroom CC or Lightroom Classic due to changes at Facebook.)

  • Share URLs where recipients can view an album, play it as a slideshow, comment and like photos.

  • Print

  • Design and run slideshows within Lightroom CC (with or without music), export as video files or PDFs. (Classic’s Slideshow module)

  • Design and order photo books, design and export PDFs (Classic’s Book module)

  • Design and upload or export custom web galleries (Classic’s Web module)

Third Party Plugins and Peripherals

  • There is no support for third-party plugins or peripherals.

That’s what I have come across – do let me know if I have missed something or listed something that you can now do!

2019-01-30T21:27:59+00:00September 26th, 2017|14 Comments


  1. Janne Wallin October 18, 2017 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    I enjoy making books so I will miss the book module. Do you think that module will be added to the Lightroom CC at a later stage? Or should I keep Lightroom Classic on my computer and use it simply for the purpose of making books by importing the specific photos for each specific book?

    • Laura Shoe October 19, 2017 at 11:20 am - Reply

      I don’t have any information on this, Janne, but personally I doubt that will make it to LR CC anytime soon, since Adobe hasn’t made hardly any improvements to it since they put it in Lightroom 4. I think your strategy of keeping Classic for that makes sense, unless you want to use Blurb’s bookmaking software.

  2. Thomas October 19, 2017 at 4:17 am - Reply

    Great overview, thank you!

    One comment to stacks:
    You can stack photos manually, but those stacks are ingnored in mobile versions and the web version (as if you would not have stacked them)

    • Laura Shoe October 19, 2017 at 11:18 am - Reply

      You’re welcome, Thomas – good point on stacks.

  3. David Kelly October 21, 2017 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    You can’t print from Lightroom CC, which is a big negative.

  4. Dave P October 26, 2017 at 2:46 am - Reply

    Thanks for putting this list together!

    One feature not available in Lr CC you did not mention is Virtual Copies.

    • Laura Shoe October 26, 2017 at 10:27 am - Reply

      You’re welcome, Dave! You can right-click in Lightroom CC and choose to Make a Copy. It’s a real file copy rather than a virtual one, but otherwise it’s the same. I’ll add this info to the post – thank you.

  5. Roger Hyam October 29, 2017 at 6:39 am - Reply

    There are big things missing (mainly printer stuff) but I’ve just taken the plunge and switched to CC from classic. Two reasons: I never use Photoshop but I do have to run a stupid system of keeping half my originals on a passport drive because they won’t all fit on my mac book. Plus I need to keep a separate copy of that drive and what is on the mac book. It is all way too complex. Switching to a plan at the same price that doesn’t have Photoshop but keeps all my stuff backed up for me is very attractive. I’ll just have to trust that some of these features come back in and if they don’t I can always shift my plan back again to a desktop version plus lots of storage.

    On an aside I never really rated the printing in LR – you couldn’t even add text from a metadata field e.g. the title of the photo!

    • Laura Shoe October 30, 2017 at 10:29 am - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Roger! It makes sense. You can add text from a metadata field in the Print module though – using the Photo Info field. Other than font size you can’t format it or change its placement.

  6. Lars December 15, 2017 at 3:46 am - Reply

    Testing CC on iPad: Search filename works for on or two filenames, but add a third, and it returns no results. 🙁

  7. Chris December 24, 2017 at 2:43 am - Reply

    If I switch to CC, how on earth am I supposed to print a photo with a labs ICC profile? I must be missing something?

    • Laura Shoe December 31, 2017 at 2:26 pm - Reply

      You’re not missing anything, Chris. There are lots of things you can’t do in Lightroom CC, and printing is one of them for now. (It will come.) If you have Photoshop you can right-click and choose to Edit in Photoshop to send your file to PS and print from there, or you can print from Classic.

  8. Scu June 19, 2018 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    Hi Laura, thanks for this list! One thing I definitely miss in LR CC is the ability to sort my pictures as I want them to be sorted. The user sorting from LR CC Classic is synced to LR CC – but I would like to have user sorting as native feature of LR CC.

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