Adobe Lightroom - sharing libraries between computers

Adobe Lightroom cannot store it's library on a shared storage, which makes it cumbersome to work with multiple computers, ie. a notebook in the field, and something else at home.

There are ways to work around it, and with all the free online filestorage solutions (Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, etc), it have become easier.

To get this to work, first make sure that Lightroom is not running, as it requires a couple of things:

  1. make backup!!!! Easier to restore, than having to recreate your library.

  2. Use to do the following

    1. copy the ~/Pictures/Lightroom/Lightroom 4 Catalog.lrcat' to '/Lightroom'
      (use copy as if something goes wrong you still have the original)
      rename the original file to 'original-Lightroom/Lightroom 4 Catalog.lrcat'

    2. Copy the '~/Pictures/Lightroom/Lightroom 4 Catalog Previews.lrcat' to '/Lightroom'
      (use copy as if something goes wrong you still have the original)
      rename the original file to 'original-Lightroom 4 Catalog Previews.lrcat'

  3. open /Lightroom in

  4. double click on 'Lightroom 4 Catalog.lrcat' to open it in Lightroom, and verify that everything is where it should be, then stop Lightroom again

  5. Now start the synchronization application so that the library and preview are send to the sky

This only shares the library between computers, the settings are still only on one computer, and this is where it become tricky, and where things can go wrong.

  1. make sure that Lightroom isn't running

  2. move '~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom' (the folder) to ~/Dropbox/Lightroom/settings (I just found having it here makes sense)

  3. move '~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom Extras' (the folder) to ~/Dropbox/Lightroom/settings (still same reason as above)

  4. make a symbolic link: ln -sf $HOME/Dropbox/Lightroom/settings/Lightroom $HOME/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom (Aliases will not work)

  5. make a symbolic link: ln -sf $HOME/Dropbox/Lightroom/settings/Lightroom Extras $HOME/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom Extras (Aliases will not work)

I have tried with both Google Driver, and Dropbox. Dropbox is the only one which will work with Symbolic Links.

Now both the Library, Previews, and Settings are stored in the Sky. As for plugins, well that depends on where you normally install them - you will have to make sure that they are available on all computers in the same place.

Now you need to move the photo library (all your photos).

  1. mount your shared storage

  2. copy all the content to a directory - in my case it's afp://<server>/photos/import - as I also use ~/Pictures/import on my notebook for storage of my photos

  3. rename your original root directory where your stored your photos, like: import to import-original (only to make sure that lightroom will see that the folder is no longer there

  4. open lightroom, and you should see that it will not be able to see the photos, and will tell you that the photo(s) are offline

  5. right click on the "missing folder" and select [update folder location], and point at the new location on your shared storage ... and wait....

  6. now Lightroom should be able to see all photos, etc.

This is a rough guide, and I might have missed some steps, as I did this a longtime ago. Also this is an "offline" approach, it does not allow multiple computers to work with the same library at the same time.

One thing, on all other computers, make sure that the settings directories are not overwriting anything important.

Also on thing I have noticed is that my Publishing settings sometimes are not being updated correctly across computeres.

As for terms and conditions from any of the online storage provides; well it's up to you to figure out if you breach any of them.

And as always; you will have to relie on your backup if you mess things up, I cannot help you....


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