Did you know that Lightroom might be eating up your computer’s hard drive space, without your knowledge? I didn’t. I kept wondering why my computer hard drive was always full. Eventually I stumbled onto Lightroom being the culprit.

Lightroom works by uploading the photos that you import to your Adobe cloud storage, and these originals in the cloud are then used as the basis for all edits. This contrasts with Lightroom Classic, which links to files on your computer’s local storage.

Now, your Lightroom catalog can be synced with a Lightroom Classic catalog, which (as I will explain in a future article) results in all your cloud photos being downloaded (again) to your computer, even if you have local copies stored there already. You can also tell Lightroom to store certain albums locally.

However, this is not the hard drive-eating behavior that I’m talking about here: Rather, it’s a back-end caching feature of Lightroom that makes it quicker to work on your files. When you import photos to Lightroom, the software copies them to another folder on your computer’s local drive before uploading them to the cloud. And then these cached images stay there, taking up your hard drive storage without so much as saying hello.

Set up your Lightroom cache so it doesn’t take over your drive

You can’t manually force clearing this cache of images from within Lightroom. Lightroom uses algorithms to decide which photos are “active” and which are not, and will clear the cached images when it decides they are no longer needed. Delving into Lightroom’s preferences, you’ll find this tab under Local Storage.

These options allow you to adjust the cache size, but doing so will not remove previously cached images. In other words, if your cache is already way over the percentage you specify here, it’ll stay that way.

Fortunately, you can salvage the situation. The cached files live in a folder on a file path like this (or hit Browse when in the Local Storage tab shown above to open the offending folder):

  • PC: C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Adobe\Lightroom CC\Data\LONG STRING OF RANDOM CHARACTERS\originals
  • Mac: /Users/Name/Pictures/Lightroom Library.Library/LONG STRING OF RANDOM CHARACTERS/originals

Once the images have been uploaded to the cloud, they can be deleted from the cache folder manually, to free up hard drive storage. Presuming, of course, that you do have the originals stored elsewhere on your computer (and backed up too)!

Clear space in your Lightroom cloud storage

Are you running out of space in your Adobe cloud storage? Watch out for my next article where I’ll show you how you can migrate your Lightroom catalog into Lightroom Classic, and clear out cloud space without losing your photos or edits.

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