Photos Stuck Syncing in Lightroom Classic? Here’s the Fix

I use a slightly complicated system of photo management whereby I offload my photos from my camera to Lightroom CC, which then syncs to a catalog in Lightroom Classic.

All too often, I end up with photos that are stuck syncing in Lightroom Classic. No matter how long I wait, the blue icon spins with an “# photos syncing” message in the top right corner.

Unfortunately, it appears that these photos will continue to be stuck and not sync correctly unless you take action to fix the issue.

Photos stuck syncing in Lightroom Classic

How can you find out which photos are stuck?

To find out which photos are stuck and view any sync errors in Lightroom Classic, simply click the sync icon in the top-right corner, then click the cog icon. This will take you to the ‘Lightroom Sync Preferences’ window, which is also found under the main menu; Edit > Preferences > Lightroom Sync.

Not entirely obvious given that you’re looking for sync errors, not preference settings.

In this window, the lower half shows current sync activity.

What’s also not entirely helpful is that the table of syncing files has a combined ‘Sync Details/Errors’ column, which – for this issue at least – doesn’t actually suggest that there’s an error.

From here, you can click on image text to open that image – from the cloud – in a browser. More on that later.

Why are the photos still syncing in Lightroom Classic?

The sync issue seems to come down to two possible reasons.

  1. The device used to upload those photos is stuck in a syncing process.
  2. The individual photos have just become stuck, perhaps due to some file corruption.

Luckily, the fix is reasonably straight forward. Particularly if you’re using a combination of Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC or (whatever Adobe is calling that one these days!).

How do you clear the syncing issue?

The process is different depending on what’s causing the issue.

1. Re-open the device used to sync the photos

It’s best to start with the device that you used to upload those photos to the cloud through Lightroom CC, so long as you still have access to it. Simply load up Lightroom on that device and give it a minute to see if it starts syncing. If so, allow it to finish and then see if your issue in Lightroom Classic is resolved.

As an example of this scenario is that once when I had this issue I realised that the stuck photos were those taken on my wife’s cellphone. I opened up the Lightroom app on her phone and found that she’d attempted to upload a large number of photos at once but had then closed the app and locked her phone. This meant that when I opened Lightroom Classic on my laptop, it tried to sync those photos but got stuck. The fix was to re-open the app on my wife’s phone and either cancel the upload or allow it to finish.

2. Find the photos in the cloud and delete them

This is the sure-fire fix but it can be tricky to follow the correct process. You’re going to need to find the photo in the cloud using a combination of Lightroom Classic, a browser, and Lightroom CC, and then you’ll need to delete the photo from the cloud. Note that if you want to keep the photo, you can export it from the cloud first, delete it, then reimport it.

Follow the below process.

Find out which photo is causing the issue by viewing the sync activity in Lightroom Classic (Edit > Preferences > Lightroom Sync or click the sync icon in the top right corner then the cog icon).

From here, you’ll need to make a note of the file name including the file extension, e.g. DSC00863.jpg as shown in my screenshot. Note that the ‘ENVY’ text here is actually because the file was syncing from my old laptop which had the name ENVY, it’s not actually part of the filename.

Along with the filename, it will also help to get a visual reference of what that particular photo is. This is going to help you should you have multiple photos in Lightroom that have the same filename.

To view the photo, click the text in that row to open up a browser and take you to that image’s website address in the cloud. This can take quite a while to load, but hopefully it’ll eventually appear. Don’t worry too much if it doesn’t as we can proceed without this.

Photos stuck syncing in Lightroom Classic

Open up Lightroom CC either through the app or through a browser. In the search box, enter the filename, including the file extension, e.g. DSC00863.JPG like in my example. This should show you the photo causing the issue. If it’s not showing, make sure you’re using the right version of ‘0’ (zero) vs the letter ‘O’ in the spelling of your filename.

From here, delete the photo from Lightroom by right-clicking it and selecting ‘delete photo’ (don’t just remove it from an album or similar, make sure it’s deleted).

Note: If you want to keep the photo, export it from here and save it to your computer first. 

Photos stuck syncing in Lightroom

Give Lightroom a minute to sync your changes to the cloud, then open up Lightroom Classic. Head to the sync activity screen and hopefully – after a moment or two – the photo will disappear from the sync queue. Do this for each file in the sync activity list and – all going well – your files will successfully sync, the list will clear, and you’ll once more see that reassuring green tick on the sync status icon!

Photo sync completed in Lightroom Classic

If you’re keeping the photos, remember to re-add them through your usual process once complete. Check that everything goes through fine. If not, there may be an issue with those photo files themselves. In that scenario, I’d consider opening them in something like Photoshop and re-saving them to a new file.

Hope that helps!

Photo sync completed in Lightroom Classic