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Laptop and Desktop interaction with Lightroom


New Member
Dec 2, 2011
Lightroom Experience
Lightroom Version
I'm just getting started with Lightroom and one of my big concerns thusfar has been the interaction between photos with my desktop PC (permanent storage) and travel laptop (Macbook Air).

I've read a ton of tutorials and posts on the matter, but they seem a bit outside the scope of what I'm doing. Many had people using dropbox to sync the two together, but I think that may be outside the scope of what I'm looking for.

Basically, here's my setup.
-Desktop PC houses my entire library of image files. Every night it is backed up to a file server
-Macbook Air that I take on the road with me

What I want to be able to do is take my Macbook Air on trips, and during the trip load my images onto it and do some light editing in lightroom. When I get home, I want to move all of the images into my permanent location on my desktop PC and copy the changes I made to the catalog on the road into my catalog that I use at home.

So I guess my questions are:

1. How is Lightroom going to handle my images changing locations? Initially they'll be in the default folder on my Mac, where I'll be editing them on the Mac, but eventually I'll move them all over to the storage location on my home PC.

2. Can I import an entire catalog from my Mac onto the PC? I think this part is pretty easy but just wanted to make sure.

3. If I were to store the images on my home PC long-term, could I use dropbox just for the catalog files? I'm envisioning a scenario where the images are on my home PC and the catalog is on Dropbox, always sync'd such that I never have to import/export it, but I'm not sure if this is possible (I'd heard there were some issues with this, but the posts are a few years old).

4. Does Lightroom need access to the original image files at all times or just when creating the catalog? That is, if the files are on my home PC and I'm away on my laptop and don't have access to the original files, but do have access to the catalog, will it work?
Jun 20, 2009
Houston, TX USA
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Classic 8
Vcize, Welcome to the forum.

My Desktop is my Master catalog. When I travel, I "Export As Catalog" Any images that I think I might work on while traveling. Using "Export As Catalog" and Exporting negatives creates a complete package of atalog, master image copies, and optionally previews.

I either "Import From Catalog..." the package or copy the complete package to me laptop HD. Either way, I wind up with a catalog that can be opened on the laptop While on the road, I also add new images to this travel catalog by importing on the laptop. When I return to base, I either copy the complete package (including new Master images) or "Export As Catalog" to a place where I can open the master catalog and "Import From Catalog..." this updated package.