Lightroom – is the romance over?

It has been mentioned here many times (which is where I learned it) that you can use the Library module of Lightroom with nothing more than a free Adobe account.

I just launched Lightroom for the first time in a while and was greeted with a prompt to start my 7 day trial. I recall an issue previously when installing on a new machine which I think was down to not having been signed in with my account. However, this time the prompt shows I am logged in.

I think this means the gig is up. The ship has sailed. Lightroom has left the building. Unless I’m missing something? Has anyone else here been using this loophole?

It seems like a 7 day free trial for new users. If you are using a different machine perhaps for some reason it doesn’t recognize you were a paid subscriber in the past. When you say you are logged in, are you referring to your previously used account?


Sounds like it was more of a “fling” than a true romance … :smiley:



To clarify, I haven’t paid Adobe a cent in years, but have as recently as a few weeks ago been using my account to run Lightroom on this very computer, using only the Library module. Every time I would start it up previously it would ask me to pick a subscription plan and I would simply dismiss the window and carry on using it. Until now.

Edit: I last used it successfully on 29 April.

Well, I see a big opportunity for DxO here – implement a keyword engine the equal of Lightroom Classic (LrC) and it will be the only one in the industry that measures up.

There are products that come close, but none can do it all. The crazy thing is nothing LrC does is that complex. Just every other solution misses on at least one key capability.

It essentially boils down to these features:

  • Hierarchical structure
  • Uniqueness only required within parent
  • Displayed with parent when not globally unique
  • Synonyms
  • Do/do not export flag (to allow for structural parents)
  • Auto-complete on entry
  • Create new on entry (including hierarchy)
  • GUI editor when needed

When stored in both a database and the files themselves (or sidecars) this allows for anything including major restructures of the hierarchy (using the database) and complete independence from the tool if required (using the keywords in the files).

I can still access my catalogs and can still import and export images - in fact the quick develop still works, I noticed.
Yesterday I got a message telling me that this was the last time the catalog would open - so it did appear that something was changing. However today I am still able to access several catalogs.

Before I left Adobe last year I went on their helpline and they told me I would be unable to open the catalogs - which wasn’t true.

I don’t really use the cataloging anymore, but occasionally I dip in to try and find old photos. I would be a little upset if I couldn’t even use it for that.

Not sure if this helps, but supposedly Adobe Bridge is still free (It's True: Adobe Bridge 2021 Is Completely Free for Everyone, for Life! | ProDesignTools) and supports keywords.

Thanks, I was aware of that. Last time I was struggling with this problem I tried out Bridge and it almost measures up to Lightroom. It’s probably second equal with a couple of other products.

I’ve checked out (either in the last week or on that previous occasion only a year or two ago)…

  • Bridge
  • ON1
  • RawTherapee
  • DarkTable
  • ACDSee
  • Photo Mechanic
  • digiKam
  • XnViewMP
  • MetaImage
  • Apple Photos
  • PhotoLab
  • FastStone

…and possibly a few more, all looking purely at keyword management. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m OK with throwing some money at Adobe, at least for a while.

I kept trying to justify the price on the basis of “all I will use it for is adding keywords” but my search has shown that nothing compares, and most that come close will a) cost a big chunk of the same money, b) create a whole new learning curve, and c) still not measure up to what I am used to.

Bridge would likely be my go-to if I could not afford LrC, as it gets pretty close and for the price (free) is unbeatable.

I ditched Lightroom in favour of PhotoLab and Photo Mechanic Plus when standalone Lightroom was discontinued and have never looked back. I use hierarchical keywords heavily for one particular project and Photo Mechanic Plus does a fantastic job and their support is better than anything I have encountered before.

Photo Mechanic Plus is not cheap but is hugely capable so give the trial version a whirl.

I’ve just revisited Photo Mechanic Plus and its approach to keywords is, in my view, needlessly complex. Everything described on this page can be done far more simply in LrC.

The one key advantage I can see in PM+ is the ability to have multiple distinct vocabularies which can be exported and imported. In LrC you can import and export but it’s all or nothing.

I guess with great flexibility comes complexity. Having said that, it is actually very simple as you need only use the features you want - simply add individual keywords or add structured keywords as required. Once keywords are added then using the DAM functionality makes finding and organising keywords a breeze.

That’s the thing, though. Lightroom can do all the same things but with less fuss.


I discovered this morning that LrC continues to work after the 7 day trial. So it was just a scare tactic from Adobe. I was wondering why this morning I did not get a pop-up saying my trial was over, especially given yesterday it popped up while I was using the application. I had already done some work in the Map module and decided to switch to the Develop module to have a play, and then I was greeted with “Develop module disabled”.

Further to this, I downloaded the Apple-Silicon-native version of Lightroom Classic (hint, hint DxO) and was again subjected to scare tactics from Adobe, but again they proved to be a bluff. The nag window messaging was “This is the last time you’ll be able to open this app.” Not true.