How to Use Lightroom on 2 Computers and Keep the Catalogue Synchronised

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A common question that we hear from readers about using Lightroom is how can it be used on two computers while keeping your catalog synchronised?

In this video Phil Steele shares 3 great strategies for doing just this.

For more great Lightroom tips from Phil Steele check out his Lightroom Made Easy Course (currently 30% off) which many dPS readers have enrolled in and found helpful.

Read more from our Post Production category

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • learned something new today. thanks

  • Michael

    Both of these are not needed. Just set up Lightroom to save the catalog files into your dropbox / google drive folder. Then load it up on the second computer.

    I have been doing this for about a year and it works great. If you want to be safe, just pause the sync while you are using Lightroom then re-start it once you are done. The only issues is it might take a minute or two to sync the latest updates on your laptop if it has been offline for a while.

  • adam

    doesn’t smart previews in LR5 also take care of this?

  • Randy

    I just exported them to a flash drive from one computer and imported them to another computer without the 2 files and it worked great.

  • Tahir

    Thanks Darren, we learn something new from you every now and then, really appreciate your efforts. The way I manage is that I have LR4 installed on two different MACs, in order to avoid confusion, I keep all catalogs and pics on WD 2TB portable drive. While opening catalog on either of the MACs, I rather open catalog from the WD 2TB and it works perfectly. I am doing it for over two years now and never had any issue.

  • By far the easiest method is using external drive(s). I have a matched set that all my photos live on. By using the smaller portable bus-powered drives, the entire kit is only slightly bigger than the power adapter for my laptop, but it is redundant and easy to manage. It’s not necessarily the cheapest, but it is definitely the easiest.

  • kristin

    would this work on two different operating systems? my desktop is mac and my laptop pc

  • Anton Rehrl

    Hey all. I figured out a way to have a single catalog on multiple machines. I did a writeup here:

    http://artof2.com/sharing-a-lightroom-catalog-across-multiple-computers/

    I’ve been using it for a couple of months without any problems 🙂

  • Yevgeniy Shpika

    That looks like problem description, not a solution.

  • Dave Dillon

    Thanks Darren, a very useful explanation, I’ve just too many images to take with me when I’m travelling and your import export tutorial example is just what I’m looking for. I’m sure it will prove invaluable.

  • Murat Korkmazov

    Take also look at this article about more safely way of using the LR on a multi-user or multi-computer environment:
    https://digital-photography-school.com/large-library-management-with-lightroom-and-daminion-for-advanced-lr-users/

  • Al Zanin

    Hi, I don’t seem to get this.
    I have an external HD where I keep all the photos I edit with lightroom.
    How can I connect it to another computer and be able to open all those
    photos with the same settings? Is there a simple way to do this? Thank
    you!

Some Older Comments

  • Matt E July 18, 2013 03:42 pm

    By far the easiest method is using external drive(s). I have a matched set that all my photos live on. By using the smaller portable bus-powered drives, the entire kit is only slightly bigger than the power adapter for my laptop, but it is redundant and easy to manage. It's not necessarily the cheapest, but it is definitely the easiest.

  • Tahir July 13, 2013 05:34 pm

    Thanks Darren, we learn something new from you every now and then, really appreciate your efforts. The way I manage is that I have LR4 installed on two different MACs, in order to avoid confusion, I keep all catalogs and pics on WD 2TB portable drive. While opening catalog on either of the MACs, I rather open catalog from the WD 2TB and it works perfectly. I am doing it for over two years now and never had any issue.

  • Randy July 12, 2013 11:26 am

    I just exported them to a flash drive from one computer and imported them to another computer without the 2 files and it worked great.

  • adam July 12, 2013 01:50 am

    doesn't smart previews in LR5 also take care of this?

  • Michael July 11, 2013 07:05 am

    Both of these are not needed. Just set up Lightroom to save the catalog files into your dropbox / google drive folder. Then load it up on the second computer.

    I have been doing this for about a year and it works great. If you want to be safe, just pause the sync while you are using Lightroom then re-start it once you are done. The only issues is it might take a minute or two to sync the latest updates on your laptop if it has been offline for a while.

  • Charles S July 11, 2013 06:20 am

    learned something new today. thanks

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