Synchronizing a Catalog to Two Computers


Today’s Question: I use two computers to work on Lightroom Classic: a desktop and a laptop. When I edit on the desktop computer and then “synchronize” the catalog on both computers, I don’t see the file as changed on the laptop, including the settings changed in the Develop module. Can I use Lightroom Classic on two computers and see all updates on both computers?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can work with a single Lightroom Classic catalog on two computers, and when doing so I recommend storing the catalog files (and photos) on an external hard drive that you move between computers.

More Detail: While it is possible to synchronize the Lightroom Classic catalog files across more than one computer, this isn’t an approach I really recommend because of the risk of getting out of sync between the two computers.

In order to synchronize the catalog files, you would need to make sure that you quite Lightroom Classic and update the synchronization every time you use Lightroom Classic on either computer. Using an online cloud-based synchronization service for this type of workflow isn’t something I recommend, as there is a risk that you’ll update different files on different computers before the online synchronization has completed, resulting in out-of-sync data.

Therefore, I strongly recommend not using synchronization to transfer updated catalog files between computers. I am even more strong in my recommendation to not manually copy the catalog files between computers, because in this case I feel there is even greater risk of getting out of sync.

Instead, I recommend that if you want to be able to work with Lightroom Classic on more than one computer that you store the catalog files on an external hard drive. You can then connect that external hard drive to the computer you want to work on and open the catalog from the external hard drive, without having to worry about anything getting out of sync.

Note that I also recommend keeping the photos stored on the same external hard drive for convenience, and of course you’ll still want to maintain a good backup workflow to back up this hard drive and any other important data.