Thursday, February 22, 2007

Adobe Lightroom synchronized on different Windows XP machines

Here is how I am able have the same Lightroom working environment on different Windows XP machines.

There are three requirements. First, that images are stored in a folder tree and that the folder tree is synchronized on the different machines. Second, that the Lightroom library folder tree and the Lightroom settings folder tree are synchronized on the different machines.

On my systems, the Lightroom folder tree is within the images folder tree, and the Lightroom settings folder tree is

C:\Documents and Settings\Dan\Application Data\Adobe\Lightroom

I use Second Copy 7.0 for one-click synchronization, and there are various other tools that do this.

The method has three parts.
  • First, define a Desktop shortcut with the same name (Images, say) on each machine, and point this shortcut to the root of the image folder tree on each machine.
  • Second, set Lightroom to prompt for the database location on startup, so that it finds the database on each machine.
  • Third, reference images in Lightroom using the shortcut to navigate to desired folders on the image folder tree. Thereby, Lightroom (evidently) records a given image as being at the same logical location on all machines, while Windows XP resolves the logical location to actual location through its shortcut mechanism.
Here is an example. The root of my image folder tree is D:\Photos\ on an internal disk of a workstation, and Z:\Photos\ on an external disk of a laptop. The Desktop shortcut on each machine is named Images, and it points to D:\Photos\ on the workstation and to Z:\Photos\ on the laptop. With this setup in place, when I import files into Lightroom (by reference), I navigate to them through the Desktop shortcut, as Desktop:\Images\.... For example, when I point Lightroom to the image folder

Desktop:\Images\Canon 10D\Pomfret

the location is resolved by Windows XP to

D:\Photos\Canon 10D\Pomfret

on the workstation, and to

Z:\Photos\Canon 10D\Pomfret

on the laptop.

So far, this scheme has been working without any problems. It allows me to work with files on one machine, synchronize my image folder tree and Lightroom settings onto the other machine (by a single click to Second Copy 7.0 on each machine), and then continue working on the second machine where I left off on the first machine.

By the way, a very important benefit of this way of working is that all work is replicated on two different machines, and so if one machine fails, work can immediately continue on the other machine, with loss limited to the last synchronization.

On Mac OS X, the equivalent of Windows XP shortcuts is aliases, and the two approaches are described together at Aliases vs. Shortcuts. Presumably an analogous procedure can be used on Mac OS X machines.

I hope this way of synchronizing Lightroom on different Windows XP machines is helpful. I will be grateful for any suggestions for improvements or cautions/gotchas.


Anonymous Eric Scouten said...

I'm pretty sure that this is working for a different reason than what you've suggested.

My guess is that although you haven't stated it, you are storing the Lightroom Database on the same volume as the photos (i.e. D:\Photos\Lightroom\Lightroom Database.lrdb or something similar).

In addition to the absolute path of each of your photos, Lightroom also stores a relative path from the database to the photo if the database and photo are on the same volume. If the database and photo collection are moved together, preserving that relationship, Lightroom will find the photos at the same relative location.

FWIW, Windows does not recognize the file path syntax you've described here as Desktop:\Images\etc. The shortcut that you've described is actually resolved by Windows before the "find file" dialog is completed, so Lightroom is unaware that you have used that shortcut to navigate to your Photos folder.

Mon Feb 26, 12:52:00 PM EST  
Blogger Dan Dill said...

It is indeed just as Eric Scouten suspected, namely that I have the Lr database withing my image folder tree.

Eric, thanks very much for this analysis.

Mon Feb 26, 01:24:00 PM EST  
Blogger Petri.Sirkkala said...

At least on my Mac the Lightroom dereferences the alias and thus it does not work.

Sun Jun 17, 12:59:00 PM EDT  

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