It could be possible that you are choosing to Copy the images at the time of import which is eating up the space on your hard drive by copying those images to the destination location specified.
You need to check that import setting
Also, it is suggested not to store your Lightroom catalog on a network drive or on online services.
If you want to access the same catalog on two different machines, you can store catalog on an external drive and images on drop box and choose Add while importing.
Thanks Chetna, "Add" is highlighted when I import images, so it doesn't look like I'm making any copies of the image files.
Just out of curiosity, why is it generally not recommended to store my catalog on a network drive or online service?
Do you have smart previews creation enabled under the Import Settings?
Storing the catalog on network might cause some unexpected issues within Lightroom.
Here is the reference article : https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/kb/catalog-faq-lightroom.html#main_Can_I_store_my_catalo g_on_a_network_
I'm confused because my photos and catalog are in Dropbox, so what is actually taking up space on my hard drive? I just imported roughly 1.63 GB worth of photos and afterword noticed that 1.46 GB had been written to my hard drive.
By default Dropbox copies (and forever synchronizes) everything in your remote Dropbox folder to every device that you have connected to your Dropbox account.
1GB of files in your remote Dropbox folder will also chew up 1GB of space on each local hard drive connected to that Dropbox account.
The power of Dropbox lies in its synchronization so you always have the latest file available to you on any device connected to your Dropbox account. The tradeoff is that 5 connected devices also each stores its own copy of the same file. Any changes to any file on any device are synchronized by Dropbox.
You can save space locally by enabling Selective Sync in Dropbox and telling Dropbox which folders to sync and copy to the local drive and which to ignore.
Are you using Selective Sync in Dropbox?
However, I'm not convinced Selective Sync will give you the workflow you're trying to achieve.
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I think you may be misunderstanding how Dropbox works.
A Dropbox folder has to reside on your computer. Anything you put in that folder is copied to Dropox, but is using the same amount of space on your computer.
So your photos will take up the same amount of space locally whether you use Dropbox or not.
So as it turns out the last two comments in the thread pinpointed exactly what my issue was. Thank you John Waller and Per Bernsten.
I actually feel pretty dumb now, but in truth, I really didn't realize that my dropbox is essentially a local folder. I always just assumed that the dropbox folder in my menu bar was some sort of magical portal to the cloud. In actuality, I understand now that my dropbox folder is really nothing more than just another local folder on my hard drive. To John's point, the auto sync feature that dropbox defaults to is pretty much making a local copy of anything that I have in my online dropbox account. Again, I never made that connection.
This also answers why Lightroom allows me to keep my catalog in my dropbox folder in the first place. While a copy of my catalog might be stored in the cloud - Lightroom is just using the local catalog file in a folder on my hard drive that just happens to be called "Dropbox" and is kept in sync with anything else in my dropbox account. Wow, this makes me feel so stupid haha.
Well, thank you all for the advice and comments. You've DEFINITELY helped me figure out what's going on...and also helped me to better understand how I should store my files! I'll most likely end up moving my catalog to an external hard drive.