Leaving Apple One and Adobe Lightroom?

I’m looking to tighten our belts and I am reviewing (i.e. cancelling) a lot of my subscriptions.

I’m currently paying the £37 (GBP) per month for Apple One and £10 (GBP) per month for Adobe Photography Plan (Lightroom Classic).

I’ve got around 500GB of photos in Apple Photo’s (mainly phone shot photos and videos) and 1TB of photos on SSD (mainly RAW from the ‘proper’ camera) that form my Lightroom catalogue.

I share my Apple One with the Family, and we are currently using 1.1TB of the 2TB limit - 270GB of that is family. Main culprit is my photos, DTTG databases, and iOS/iPad OS backups.

Pretty sure none of us use, Apple Fitness or News, so they can definitely go. But if move down to ‘Family’ then the iCloud drops to 200GB.

We use ‘Arcade’ and some light Music use; though probably just me.

I wondered if anyone else had tried to exit the Apple/Adobe ecosystem and been successful.

I’d be happy to go back to listening to my own digitally owned music like we used to, and would prefer my photos stored locally.

Is a Synology, Dropbox and Spotify a better (and cheaper) solution or am I locked in?

Anyone else been or in a similar situation?


Whether you can find satisfactory alternatives depends on what your end goals are.

I use neither Apple Music nor Apple Photos. My alternatives are tailored to meet my needs, but they are also more expensive.

My spouse is an audiophile, we have expensive equipment, and have a huge CD and vinyl collection. We needed to migrate our routine home and out-and-about listening to a digital solution. So, I digitized our enormous CD library to FLAC files, which are stored on an external hard drive connected to my desktop Mac. The files are backed up to another hard drive and also to BackBlaze.

I use Roon to serve the files to our HiFi system and our various devices. Roon offers a solution to make your library available remotely as well, but I don’t use it since I also use a streaming service. (We chose Roon because it obviated the need to tag all the files I’d digitized. It’s very good at scanning your library and serving up your files with all the metadata you could want.)

I use Qobuz as my streaming service.

A note: I started out using a NAS to store the music library, but frankly, it was more complicated to manage than it needed to be AND very expensive to back up to the cloud. My digitized music library is very stable, i.e., we never add anything to it. So, it’s just as easy and safe to serve the files from an attached hard drive which is backed up to the cloud and, from time to time, to another hard drive.

But here’s one thing I’ve learned: if I had to do it all over again, and if it were just me, I’d ditch the CDs and the vinyl without bothering to digitize anything and just stream everything. With very rare exception everything in my physical library is available on Qobuz in high-res files. I’ve found that I’m much more interested in discovery than I am in revisiting my collection, which was only as big as it was because there wasn’t an alternative. Compared to what I paid for physical media, and what I’m paying to store the digitized versions, streaming is a bargain with none of the cognitive overhead to boot. And here’s another thing I’ve learned: you can listen to great radio from anywhere online. If I really had to penny-pinch, I could fill my ears with ad-supported Spotify and streaming radio. (One of my favorites is WNYC’s New Sounds feed.) Obviously, if I had tweens and teens at home, I’d need something more.

As for photos … I’m a very serious amateur photographer (as in 10+ hours a week doing something with photography serious) and am more than happy to pay Adobe for Lightroom and Photoshop, both of which I use extensively. The only photos in the Photos app on my Apple devices have been taken with my “real” cameras, processed in Lightroom and/or Photoshop, and put there purposefully—i.e., I don’t need to pay Apple for storage because I simply don’t load much into the app. (I tend to take two kinds of photos with my phone: “Sketch images” of something I want to shoot later with a “real” camera and to capture information I would have written down with a pen in the past, e.g., part numbers and the like.) I don’t need what Apple Photos does since I process my images and manage my catalogue with other tools, and don’t really take the kind of photos it appears to have been designed for—a worthy category I’ll label “memories.”

I use Lightroom to manage my catalogue, but I don’t store my photos in anyone’s cloud. They live on an attached hard-drive, get backed up to a second hard drive, and are also backed up to BackBlaze.

You can use Adobe Bridge for free to manage your catalogue. I haven’t investigated the ins-and-outs of using the various cloud storage providers for photo storage and sharing, but both DropBox and Google are in that space. (But be careful: you may not be able to use either to view raw files.)

PS: the only Apple service I use, believe it or not, is Apple TV. I do pay for 200 gb of storage for mobile device back-up, but use DropBox for cloud storage and syncing.


I ditched Adobe several years ago as I felt the flagship Photoshop was becoming ever more bloated and lightroom confusingly had more than one version at the same time and just did not have the technical lead it once had. After quite a bit of experimentation I settled on On1: it took almost as long to really understand it as it had taken me with photoshop, but I am happy that I can realise my “proper” photography needs with it. The latest desktop version is impressive and fast. The mobile version is poor and has not been actively developed for some time.

I have Apple One, shared with the family. I think someone in Cupertino worked out that there’d be a lot of people with just over the storage level below and paying for a lot of storage they don’t actually need just to cope with that. I don’t use News+ or Fitness+ very much but paying for things separately to get what I need would cost more - it’s that pricing person in Cupertino.

Recent rapid price hikes, from one of the best capitalised companies in the world, have made me think hard but it’s still worth it for us.


iCloud is the challenge to remove. There are apps for everything else. You need to work out what you want to sync to your devices. Is it worth paying every month so you can have the data synced? Can you cut down what data you do have? Often we don’t use these things as often as we think.

I mull over the exact subscriptions. I’m probably the oddball in that I make use of Apple News+ heavily. Everything else is used occasionally and taken individually I probably couldn’t justify any other service but a smaller amount of iCloud. But everything gets used occasionally so it is just a convenience.

I cry every time I use Lightroom as I miss Aperture greatly. Frankly we don’t get out for photography excursions like we used to. I could probably survive with Finder or maybe the free Adobe Bridge. I’ve got Affinity on the rare occasions I need to touch things up.

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Me, too. But I came back to Adobe after I spent a lot of money trying the alternatives. Plus Adobe Camera Raw editing (and Lightroom which uses ACR) have improved a lot in the last few years. So much so that I rarely feel any need to use Photoshop. Adobe Bridge lets me handle my photos without importing to a catalog of ever increasing size and ACR processes my raw photos beautifully. And I get an Adobe Portfolio personalized website to display my photos if I want, at no additional cost. All for ten bucks a month (the cost of a website alone from other providers!)


I like the look of Roon (I hadn’t seen it before), but $15 a month is a lot given that it doesn’t include any music. You obviously feel it’s worth it. Had you tried any other services before you chose Roon?

When we set up our digital system, which was a while back, Roon was the preferred choice if you were using high end audio gear that was “Roon Ready.” The other real plus was not having to add any metadata to a TB’s worth of FLAC files ripped from CDs.

We opted for the lifetime plan, which, at the time, was equivalent to about 5 years on the annual plan. We toyed with using a Mac mini for the server, but opted for the Roon Nucleus instead.

I honestly don’t know who Roon’s competition is these days. Whether it’s a good choice likely depends on your playback equipment and how willing you are to futz with your media server.

I do, too. I usually read my NYTimes, Economist, Atlantic, and Foreign Affairs in their own apps/sites. But I use Apple News to give me a good spread of all new sources for a quick daily catchup. And it’s nice having no paywalls there.

Well I will join you on the News+ bandwagon. I love all the magazines and have access to newspapers all over the US/Canada included is great. I sub to NYT and Wash Post so it’s a great addition. Also the sports integration has been great.

I also use News+ extensively every day in addition to Music and Apple TV+ so the subscription to the highest tier of Apple One makes sense. I share News+ with a couple of family members who use it extensively–that makes the monthly charge a little easier to swallow.

Yeah, the price increases are coming fast but that is one I know I am getting use out of. Family music, tv, news, and tons of storage split up would cost me more and I would 100% need to find replacements.

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