Sync a Lightroom Catalog between Computers with Dropbox
Since I love technical, geeky, computer stuff just as much as I love photography, I decided to start sharing tutorials and tips to ease a photographer’s workflow. Since Lightroom is an essential part of my workflow as a photographer, I’ll start with a tutorial on how to sync a Lightroom Catalog across computers using Dropbox.
Many photographers work on a desktop computer, but may need to access their Lightroom Catalog and photos on the go, from a laptop, or simply to finalize work at home.
Trying to sync a Lightroom catalog across different computers proved to be a task I needed to find a work-around solution for.
In most situations where you’d like to share data, you can easily use a server – and viola! Mission accomplished. Unfortunately, the Lightroom catalog won’t run on a server or NAS drive – making it necessary to find a different way to sync a Lightroom Catalog between computers.
After spending lot’s of time researching & testing different options, the most convenient solution I found was using Dropbox!
There are a few simple steps you’ll need to follow to make it work properly:
1. Create a Dropbox Account
You can create the account for free, but be prepared to upgrade to a paid plan, since the 2 GB of space probably won’t be enough to store your Lightroom Catalog & associated photos.
2. Download & install the dropbox folder on your device. This will create a local copy on every device which will get synced as you work across all devices.
3. Within the newly created Dropbox folder, create a new folder titled “Lightroom”. Save your catalog there.
4. Open your Lightroom Catalog & go to the ‘File’ and choose ‘Preferences’. Then, under the ‘presets’ tab, check “Store presets with catalog’.
(This will ensure the presets used in your catalog are available across all devices)
5. Store all photos in your catalog in the dropbox folder too – if not, you will only be able to access low resolution previews with an icon showing the photos are missing when not using the computer the photos are stored on.
A few tips to keep in mind:
• You will need to have Lightroom physically installed on any computer you want to access the catalog from.
• It is ideal if you set the exact same user path across all devices. That means having the same user-name & storing the dropbox folder in the same spot.
• Always make sure you close / save Lightroom before opening it on the second device. This will save you lots of mess and heartache!
• Dropbox will sync your latest version of your saved files, it does not create copies. Unsaved Lightroom catalog’s will be locked and un-accesable on another computer, meaning that you won’t have access to the latest changes.
• If you have a slow internet connection & files take too long to load, this may not be your best option. Although inconvenient, you may be better off storing your catalog & associated information on an external hard drive.
Let me know in the comments if you found this helpful or if you have any questions!