Apple’s updated Photos app in Mojave included some very helpful features for those in their ecosystem, but still not enough for me to keep using Apple Photos over Lightroom Classic CC. In this post, we will show you a quick and dirty way to move your photos from Apple Photos to Lightroom Classic CC.

For those of you who own a 2008-2011 Mac and haven’t been able to update your Mac OS to Mojave, you can still move from Photos into Lightroom by following along with the guide here, which is confirmed to work for OSX 10.10-10.13 — although, this may also work. 

If you’re wondering, “Why should I move from Apple Photos to Lightroom,” check out whole aptly named section, “Why should I move from Apple Photos to Lightroom,” in the aforementioned guide which is still relevant today.

Things you’ll need

  1. MacOS Mojave 10.14
  2. Adobe Lightroom Classic CC or Lightroom stand-alone version 4-6
  3. Adequate internal hard drive space or an external hard drive
  4. Time — depending on how many Albums you have
  5. Refreshing drink of your choice

First, the quick and dirty way of moving photos from Apple Photos to Lightroom

I say this way is dirty just because it’s quicker, simpler but leaves a lot to clean up afterward. This method is for you if two of the following applies:

  • Your Photos library is fairly simple, meaning, you haven’t created any complex organization that you care to keep.
  • You’d rather have everything sorted by date, in their own folder.
  • You just don’t care about organization and you’ll deal with it later.
  • You also don’t care about the edits that you’ve made in Photos (because you’re going to make them better in Lightroom anyway)

Exporting from the Photos app

  1. Open up the Photos app.
    • Make sure that the sidebar is in view.
  2. Select what you’re trying to move.
    • Moving everything?
      • Under the Library section in the Sidebar, find Photos, click on an image in the viewer area to give that area focus, hold Command and hit A to select all
    • Moving the contents of an album/folder?
      • Under the Albums section in the Sidebar, find the name of your album/folder and click on it.
  3. Export out the originals.
    1. Select File > Export from the menu bar
    2. Choose Export Unmodified Originals For (the amount of photos selected) items
    3. Change the File Name section to your liking.
      • Keep subfolder format to None
      • Click Export
      • Select the location you want to save all your images. This will be a temporary area — we will have Lightroom reorganize and save them into respective folders by date. I recommend creating a new folder for all these images to be stored in — and make it accessible (like on the Desktop) or an external hard drive if you don’t have adequate space for your whole library on the computer.
  4. Reach for that drink you got earlier and wait until it is all done.

Importing into Lightroom

  1. Open up Lightroom or not, it’s up to you for this one.
  2. Drag the folder with the exported images onto the Lightroom icon in the Dock. This will bring up the import screen.
  3. Select the settings and import.
    1. In the top center, choose Move. This moves the files from that temporary folder that we exported to earlier.
    2. By default, all the images in the folder are going to be selected. If the image already exists in the Lightroom Catalog, then it’ll be grayed out, unless on the right hand side under File Handling, Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates is turned on.
    3. Double check the settings under Destination.
      • This is where you have Lightroom organize the images into folders by date, and you get to choose the format of the date too. The default is like “2016/2016-09-07.”
      • By default, the location chosen is the Pictures folder located in your Home folder. If that isn’t where you would like to store the images, you can adjust that here.


Finally, just click the Import button on the bottom right corner and let Lightroom do the move!

The result is an organized Lightroom category by date that the picture was taken (as long as the camera had the correct date and time set, haha).

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the site for lots of Lightroom tips, tricks and tutorials.