How to best use photos library on multiple devices (mainly iMac and Macbook Pro)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Inception76, Dec 27, 2015.

  1. Inception76 macrumors newbie

    Jan 17, 2012
    Hi i have an iMac that i have owned for about 4 years now. I recently bought a MacBook Pro with a 256 gb SSD drive. Today i have my Photos library on an external Lacie Thunderbolt drive attached to my iMac. What my goal here is that i am among at is that i want to have this one big library and access it both from my Macbook via Wifi and my iMac. Would also be nice to be able to edit photos from my iOS devices, and have them synced automatically.

    I imagine that sharing the folder on the iMac with the Macbook is maybe not doable, i think maybe everything would be to slow.

    I do not want to be forced to sit at a specific place and attach my external hard drive to the Macbook every time i want to edit my pictures.

    Is the only doable solution to use iCloud and pay for the storage there? I hav quite a big library.

    Thinking about a NAS if that would suffice or i would also have performance issues there. I have a really old NAS that i know is slow now but i could upgrade if it would do the trick.

    What are your experiences with this? I just tried really quick to access the library in my iMac but i got some kind of error message that the drive was not available or something.
  2. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    You should separate the concept of storing a managed library on say an external versus storing the photos themselves there. I suspect you are using a managed Photos library, i.e. you copy photos into that library. This stores them in there with a database, previews, etc. Fine; all in one place, compatible with iCloud Photo Library.

    But not so fine if you wanna store that library on a network (NAS, drive on your router). You could store on an external drive, and depending on how fast the drive is and its connection, that could work OK, but as you note, tough to share. You might be able to get it to work on the NAS, but it's not recommended.

    You can share via other cloud solutions. Basically Apple designed it to share over iCloud, full stop.

    But if you are able to forego iCloud, then try using a referenced library instead. This means when you import you don't copy in the image; it stays in a folder in the Finder on your boot drive, thumbdrive, external, NAS, or wherever else you've put it. Photos only POINTS to it. Otherwise it works more or less like it's copied into your Photos library. But it's accessible outside, so in theory another copy of Photos could reference it as well. Or Lightroom. Or Mylio. Or Picasa. The latter are browsers, and they too would see the photos. The downside—a biggy—is that any editing you do in Photos stays in Photos unless you export. Photos stores the instructions about those edits (like crop, keyword, contrast, etc). It doesn't actually store another file. So to get that outside of Photos, Photos would have to export as say a TIFF or JPEG.

    Arrgh, right?

    Other software can handle this perhaps better for you. Lightroom is nice and you probably considered it, but it's a kinda one-computer solution too. As was Aperture. Again, you can share the photos, but the edits within Lr/Aperture/iPhotos/Photos kinda stay there. A better solution for you might be Mylio; it can synch across mobile devices, desktops, laptops, NAS, and propagate changes from each to the other, mobile to mobile, etc. It doesn't require cloud storage; it can act peer to peer. It's like having the same image folder across all devices, sorta like Dropbox without the cloud storage. And it can do a lot of editing, about as much as Photos without extensions. Check it out; they have a demo.

    Or you could perhaps change your workflow. Does anyone really need ALL their photos with them all the time? Prolly no. You can have separate Photos libraries, and there's even a utility (formerly known as iPhoto Library Manager) that can merge them. Perhaps one on-the-road library, which you merge when you get home. Or a gallery library, for showing your best shots. Or one Photos System Library (the one you'd use with iCloud) and another referenced library. Depends on WHY you need these photos.
  3. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    You can do it, but the library can not be edited on one machine while being open on another without data loss. It is bound to happen, so definitely not recommended. This is of course not a problem using iCloud, as changes are made against the database in the cloud.
  4. Inception76 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 17, 2012
    Hi, Thanks for the extensive input. I have not been able to respond until now, done a lot of working and traveling so i have not had the time to think about this. I have also read more stuff, and basically my problem or solution i want to have is to be ale to manage photos, edit and make albums mainly on my Macbook that has limited storage capacities. Even if i am at home i do not want to be limited sit next to an external drive that
    The more i think about it i think a good solution for me would be Apples iCloud solution, that i store all my photos in the cloud and then i can edit photos on all my devices (iPad, iPhone, iMac) wherever i want to and have them synced across. It comes with a cost for sure, but maybe that would be worthwhile?

    I will definitively check out and read about Mylio
  5. BJMRamage macrumors 68020


    Oct 2, 2007
    I have had this same "problem" as you noted in the Original Post.

    My main machine is an older iMac (in the basement). That means any editing is done on an older/slower computer away from the family. I have a work MBP (5 years newer) and it is so much faster, and I can edit wherever I want, and take with me on vacations to download images. But, having a split library isn’t great.

    I am STILL using Aperture with my photos (RAW DLSR images and iPhone images) because I love all the editing features. I sometimes go back and re-edit photos when I have a better handle on conversions and other editing techniques. It really stinks that Aperture was killed. Because Photos is an iPhoto upgrade but still think of it as an Aperture downgrade.

    I want to follow this to see what route you end up going

Share This Page