iOS (iPhone/iPad)

Read my Lightroom Mobile review on

The debut of Lightroom Mobile on the iPad naturally brings high expectations: Can this new app help a tablet replace a laptop in a raw photo workflow, and how well do photographers’ favorite features of the desktop version of Lightroom translate to the Apple iPad? If you want to know what I think, you can now read my review of Lightroom Mobile, published on

Lightroom Mobile

Lightroom Mobile, Lightroom 5.4, Adobe Camera Raw 8.4 released

Photoshop CC iconAdobe Lightroom 5 iconAdobe Creative Cloud icon

Adobe recently released a Lightroom companion app for iPad called Lightroom Mobile, along with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5.4 and Adobe Camera Raw 8.4 (now 8.4.1) and a corresponding DNG Converter 8.4 update. All are free updates for current licenses of the software; update links are at the end of this article. The updates also include the usual bug fixes and add support for new cameras including the Fujifilm X-T1, Nikon D4S, and the DJI Phantom for you quadcopter jockeys. As usual, the updates also add more Camera Matching color profiles and Lens Profiles, and fix a number of bugs. For more details, go to:

I talk about the new features in Camera Raw 8.4 below. The only new feature in Lightroom 5.4 is support for syncing with Lightroom Mobile.

Lightroom Mobile for iPad

Stealing the show from the Lightroom 5.4 and Camera Raw 8.4 updates is the introduction of Lightroom Mobile. The feature list has been publicized widely, but digging a little deeper reveals certain benefits and limitations of the real world Lightroom Mobile workflow. I’m writing an article about those, but until that gets done here’s a brief overview.

Lightroom Mobile

The initial release of Lightroom Mobile works best as a way to let you use an iPad to apply Pick/Reject flags and make basic edits to images synced over the Internet from a collection in Lightroom 5.4 or later on your computer. The ability to edit at the raw stage sets Lightroom Mobile apart from most iPad image editors. Lightroom Mobile doesn’t sync raw files to your iPad; it syncs Smart Previews which is a very good thing because Smart Previews use less storage space on your iPad and take less time to sync images over the Internet while still enabling raw edits.

At this time, Lightroom Mobile is not set up to import raw images directly from a camera to an iPad, even though that’s what many would expect. Also, you can’t currently use star ratings or apply keywords or other metadata. Tom Hogarty of Adobe explains the app’s initial feature set in the Lightroom Journal blog post The Field Triage Opportunity for Lightroom Mobile. It’s clear that we are to think of Lightroom Mobile as version 1.0, and to expect more in the future. If you account for that, what Lightroom Mobile does do right now is a good start.

As an introduction, I like Richard Curtis’s Lightroom Mobile Deep Dive. This is the article where I learned that when you sync through Lightroom Mobile, you can view and present all of those images in your web browser by signing into Creative Cloud at Having all synced images viewable over the Web has workflow advantages and security implications that are worth reflecting on.

Lightroom Mobile is free to download and install, but to sync with Lightroom on the desktop you need a Creative Cloud subscription and an Internet connection (you can’t sync locally). Also, for now it’s available only for iPad on iOS 7 (iPhone is next). These requirements have disappointed some users. Personally, I’m relieved that Lightroom Mobile runs great on my old iPad 2.

Update: You can now read my review of Lightroom Mobile on

New features in Camera Raw 8.4

The Adobe Camera Raw 8.4 blog post I linked above describes new features for Camera Raw including:

  • Before/After preview feature. This replaces the Preview checkbox, and works sort of like the Before/After feature in Lightroom. If you’re used to pressing the P key to toggle the old Preview checkbox, pressing P now swaps the Before and After views.
    Before/after view in Camera Raw
  • Pet-Eye Correction. No joke…when the eyes of dogs, cats, and other animals are blown out in flash photos, they require different correction than red-eye in humans. This new feature lets you quickly simulate dark animal eyes, and includes an option for creating movable catchlights in the eyes.
    Pet-eye removal, new in Camera Raw 8.4
  • Shortcuts for resetting Develop sliders. And new options for selecting all or no checkboxes when synchronizing settings.
  • Fill Image option for the Radial Filter. This makes the Radial Filter area cover the entire image area, which is useful if you prefer to create image vignettes with the Radial Filter instead of using Post Crop Vignetting.
  • Shortcut for aspect ratio toggle between horizontal and vertical for the Crop Tool or Straighten tool. Simply press the X key, as in Lightroom.
  • Built-in lens profile indicator. If Camera Raw automatically applies a built-in lens profile (also called “metadata-based” by Adobe) to the image, the Profile panel now indicates this.
    Metadata (built-in) lens profile in Adobe Camera Raw 8.4

A metadata-based or built-in lens profile is not the same as the lens profiles you can choose in Camera Raw and Lightroom. It’s applied automatically when necessary, with no user controls. You may see the built-in lens profile indicator appear for raw files from some compact cameras, because it is so difficult to built a compact lens that is fast, sharp, and undistorted while remaining affordable. Some camera makers have realized that if they allow for more lens distortion and chromatic aberration, they can push harder toward the other lens design goals while reducing size and cost. You don’t normally see the extreme distortion because the camera automatically compensates internally when you shoot JPEG, and if the camera comes with raw conversion software its software applies the correction too. But this means a truly raw image from such a lens would look severely distorted compared to a JPEG from the camera. For this reason, when Camera Raw detects one of those lenses in the image metadata, a built-in profile is always applied. If you then apply a lens profile in the Lens Correction tab, that is a different lens profile and an additional stage of lens correction.

Camera Raw vs. Lightroom feature parity

Should Lightroom users be concerned that Lightroom 5.4 doesn’t also have new features other than sync to LIghtroom Mobile? No, because some of the new features in Camera Raw 8.4 appeared in Lightroom first, such as the Before/After view and pressing the X key to swap the crop aspect ratio. Adobe continues to add features to Camera Raw to bring it closer to Lightroom, as I wrote about in my article Camera Raw 8.2 vs Lightroom 5.2: Latest Releases Shift the Balance.

But Camera Raw 8.4 adds a few features Lightroom doesn’t have yet, such as the metadata-based lens profile indicator, the Fill Image option for the Radial Fill filter, and pet-eye correction.

These differences aren’t just academic. Many people ask whether they should build their workflow around Lightroom or Camera Raw, and knowing the differences helps clarify the decision.


Important: At the time this article was published there was a problem with Camera Raw 8.4 and Bridge CS6. If you run into this, manually install the build of Camera Raw 8.4 provided by the link in the Adobe tech note Camera Raw 8.4: no metadata or Camera Raw edit in Bridge CS6.

Camera Raw 8.4 is available for both Photoshop CC and Photoshop CS6 (as well as Adobe Bridge CS6 and CC). Consistent with current Adobe policy, Photoshop and Bridge CS6 get Camera Raw 8.4 bug fixes and support for new cameras, but not the new features.

Creative Cloud updater showing Camera Raw 8.3 update

As announced earlier, Camera Raw and DNG Converter now require OS X 10.7 or Windows 7. If you have an earlier operating system you can go only as high as Camera Raw 8.3.

If you’ve been using the Release Candidate (RC) versions of Camera Raw that were released by Adobe Labs earlier for public testing, you should install these final versions because there have been some changes from the RC versions.

How to get the updates

To update Camera Raw from Photoshop, start Photoshop and choose Help > Updates.

To update Lightroom, start Lightroom, choose Help > Updates, download the installer, and run the installer.


To update both Camera Raw and Lightroom through Adobe Creative Cloud: Start Adobe Creative Cloud if it isn’t running, and it should indicate that an update is available for Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom.

You can also download standalone installers for Lightroom 5.4 and DNG Converter 7.4 from the Adobe Product Updates page.

Lightroom updater

Should PC sales figures include tablets?

iPad image courtesy Apple Inc.

Reports from analysts such as Canalys raised a few eyebrows by saying that Apple reached over 20% share of the PC market for the first time in Q4 of 2012…if you count tablets. Canalys claims that one in six PCs shipped that quarter was an iPad, and that tablets as a group made up one-third of PC shipments in that quarter. In the same quarter, non-tablet PC shipments declined, continuing a long trend.

Many online commenters question the idea that tablets should be included in PC sales numbers. Unsurprisingly, some of the most vocal opposition is from the “specs, desktop, and keyboard” geek crowd who insist that tablets can’t do the job that a “real PC” can, and therefore you can’t count a tablet as a PC. That perspective may be technically sound, but may not be what matters to the market. And thinking of this as merely a specs comparison makes the questionable assumption that tablet sales and PC sales are functionally separate categories. For example, is Microsoft Surface Pro with full Windows 8 a tablet or a PC?

To get a better answer, think about this question from the point of view of a PC manufacturer (or as they say, “follow the money”). If you have a customer who buys a PC from you on a regular basis, but this year they bought somebody else’s tablet, your customer realized that many or all of their most frequent computer needs can be fulfilled with a tablet. That’s quite plausible given that so many of today’s applications are web-based and rarely require the full horsepower of a multi-core PC.

Tablets cut into PC sales to some extent as PC replacements, and to an even larger extent they can delay a customer’s PC upgrade cycle. That means tablets do not have to be technically equal to a PC in order to have a financial effect on PC manufacturers. Tablets affect PC sales as they are.

The bottom line, if you’re a PC manufacturer, is this: If your customer didn’t buy your PC because they bought somebody else’s tablet instead, then a tablet sale has to count as a PC sale…because a tablet cost you a sale.

iOS: PDF file not readable on iPad/iPhone/iPod touch

Have you ever had trouble reading a PDF file on an iOS device such as an iPad? A PDF file that was emailed to me wouldn’t open on iPhone or iPad, and not even the file name showed up correctly. The file opened normally on my computer, so I knew the PDF file wasn’t completely corrupted. While it’s still a mystery why the PDF file didn’t work on iOS, in the end I did fix the problem. Here’s how.

I didn’t have access to the original document, so I couldn’t export the PDF file again from the source. I had to try and fix it on my side. I started by opening it in Adobe Acrobat X Pro, where I tried choosing File > Save As > PDF to write out a new copy of the file. After that didn’t work, I tried Reduced Size PDF on the same submenu. That didn’t work either. It didn’t help to open the PDF file in Apple Preview and choose File > Save As.

At this point I was stumped. Knowing that the file worked fine on a computer, I was still convinced that there had to be a way to fix it.

I next used Acrobat Pro X to save it to PDF-X/1A, a standard for high-end prepress. This time it failed even to convert, which turned out to be a good thing because the failure showed me an error message. The message suggested that I run the PDF through the Preflight feature using the Convert to sRGB preflight profile. That was a great idea; I should have thought of using Preflight sooner since the purpose of a preflight feature is to catch file problems before they cost time and money later down the line.

In Acrobat X Pro, Preflight is buried in the Print Production panel in the Tools pane on the right side of the Acrobat workspace. I selected Convert to sRGB, and then clicked the Analyze and Fix button.

Acrobat Preflight Convert to sRGB

That worked! The next time I transferred the PDF file to iPad, it was perfectly readable.

In the end, my troubleshooting guess was correct: Find something that can rewrite the PDF file radically enough to change whatever was causing the error, even without knowing the exact problem.

Of course, not everyone has Acrobat Pro and it is not cheap, but if you have access to some versions of Adobe Creative Suite, Acrobat Pro is included and so you have it. Keep Acrobat Pro in mind if you run into problems like this one. [Edit: As of 2013 Adobe Creative Suite is now Adobe Creative Cloud.]

While Apple Preview on a Mac doesn’t have the variety of production tools available in Acrobat Pro, there is another way to do something similar: Open ColorSync Utility, choose File > Open and open the PDF file, and then choose Create Generic PDFX-3 from the Filter pop-up menu at the bottom of the document window. I did not try that in my case, though, since I had already fixed mine.

What might have caused the problem? I may never know for sure, but based on what fixed it, I’d guess that there was a problem with at least one of the color images in the PDF file. It looked like it had been created in Word with maps pasted from Windows screen shots. Maybe there were indexed-color BMP or GIF images in it. While that should not have been a problem, what we do know is that the Convert to sRGB preflight profile did fix the problem.

While this solution solved my problem, it may not fix every problem with reading PDF files on iOS devices. If it doesn’t solve your issue, I hope that describing a successful troubleshooting process helps point you in the right direction. Good luck!

iPhone asks for unknown voicemail password

iPhone voicemail password request

Has your iPhone all of a sudden started asking you for your voicemail password? Is it not letting you in even though you’re sure you entered the right voicemail password? Or have you completely forgotten the password?

When this started happening to me, I ran a search on Twitter and found a lot of people complaining about the same thing. Which means it might have been an AT&T system glitch and nothing we users did wrong on our phones. People have proposed various solutions out there, everything from calling AT&T customer service to having the phone send you a new temporary password via SMS. But what worked for me was a lot simpler and I didn’t have to use a different password.

My fix. I used my iPhone to dial my own phone number, which answers by putting me directly into my voicemail account. I then followed the voicemail menu to where you can change your password, and get this: it didn’t ask me for the old password before entering the new one. How convenient. I entered the password I wanted, and the next time AT&T voicemail asked me for my password, I entered that one and it worked.

When you get to the AT&T voicemail menu, here’s the sequence (or just listen to the menus if they changed them around):

  1. Press 4 for personal options.
  2. Press 2 for administrative options.
  3. Press 1 to manage passwords.
  4. Press 1 to change the password.
  5. When the system asks you to enter the password you want, do it.
  6. When the system lets you know the new password is set, press * to back out of the menus until the system says “Goodbye!”

The next time the Voicemail screen asks you for your password, the one you just set up should work. And all of your saved voicemails should show up again. That’s what happened to me, anyway; if it isn’t working for you I really don’t know what to do next except maybe contact AT&T.

OK, that was easy. But if there was a kung-fu film called Enter the Password, at this point its hero might say, looking around with suspicion, “…that was too easy.”

Security concern. While it was convenient to be able to change my password without having to know whatever mystery password AT&T was expecting before, security-minded readers may see this as a security hole. It means that if your iPhone is in the wrong hands for less than a minute, they could easily lock you out of your own voicemail by changing your password. Just another reason why every smartphone user should use the feature that locks your phone when you don’t use it for a couple of minutes, requiring a passcode to get back in. Yes, a phone passcode is a hassle, but there’s just too much personal information on these phones now and too much access to key parts of your life to allow a smartphone to be unsecured.