Windows desktop with apple laptop

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Hi
I have a windows 10 setup and most of my editing is done on a desktop which is configured primarily for photography. When I'm away from home I use a laptop as primary backup for my photos and also editing if I have time. My current Dell laptop is frustratingly slow and I'm considering an Apple M1 equipped laptop as its replacement. So here's my quandary:

1) Possibly a stupid question but I've no idea what the answer is: if I edit photos on an apple laptop then copy them to my external hard drive can I continue editing them on a windows pc? (I have no problems importing from the laptop to the desktop courtesy of the invaluable guidance from here.)
2) I have Adobe's Photography plan so can I use their software on 2 computers running different OSs?
3) If I want to sign out of the apple laptop and use a different (windows 10) laptop as the current 2nd laptop will this present a problem?

Thanks for any advice.

Paul
 
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1:
Lightroom Classic is a non-destructive editor, which means it does not apply the edits to the original images but stores them in the catalog (and if you want to also in sidecar metadata files). That means that editing on two computers is best done by sharing the catalog between these computers. You can share a catalog between Mac and Windows too, but it takes a little more thought. First of all, it means you need to have the catalog on an external drive that is formatted in a way that both platforms can read and write. If you do not want to install special software for reading other formats, then that means EXFat.

The second problem is that Lightroom uses a path to the images in its catalog and that path contains the drive. Windows uses drive letters however, while MacOS uses disk names. So that means the path is broken each time you switch. You could ‘reconnect’ the image folders each time, but that is obviously a PITA. The easiest solution is to decide that one of the computers will be the main system, with the images connected to the catalog. If you generate smart previews for all images while you are running Lightroom Classic on that system, then Lightroom can use those smart previews when you edit on the other system, and so the broken paths are irrelevant (smart previews paths will not break).

An alternative approach would be to use two different catalogs after all and merge these. That means you use ‘Export as catalog’ to copy the images from computer 1 to computer 2, and when you want to get the edits from 2 to 1 again you use ‘Import from another catalog ‘.

2: The Adobe plan allows you to run Lightroom Classic on two computers. The OS is not specified so one can be Windows and the other one Mac.

3: If you mean that this laptop will be the third computer, then the answer is that you can do this, but you will be logged of one of the other two computers. That’s not a big deal, because when you want to use Lightroom Classic on that computer again, you only need to login again (and get logged out again of the third one).
 
Joined
Jan 29, 2016
Messages
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Location
Worcester Park, Surrey
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Intermediate
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1:
Lightroom Classic is a non-destructive editor, which means it does not apply the edits to the original images but stores them in the catalog (and if you want to also in sidecar metadata files). That means that editing on two computers is best done by sharing the catalog between these computers. You can share a catalog between Mac and Windows too, but it takes a little more thought. First of all, it means you need to have the catalog on an external drive that is formatted in a way that both platforms can read and write. If you do not want to install special software for reading other formats, then that means EXFat.

The second problem is that Lightroom uses a path to the images in its catalog and that path contains the drive. Windows uses drive letters however, while MacOS uses disk names. So that means the path is broken each time you switch. You could ‘reconnect’ the image folders each time, but that is obviously a PITA. The easiest solution is to decide that one of the computers will be the main system, with the images connected to the catalog. If you generate smart previews for all images while you are running Lightroom Classic on that system, then Lightroom can use those smart previews when you edit on the other system, and so the broken paths are irrelevant (smart previews paths will not break).

An alternative approach would be to use two different catalogs after all and merge these. That means you use ‘Export as catalog’ to copy the images from computer 1 to computer 2, and when you want to get the edits from 2 to 1 again you use ‘Import from another catalog ‘.

2: The Adobe plan allows you to run Lightroom Classic on two computers. The OS is not specified so one can be Windows and the other one Mac.

3: If you mean that this laptop will be the third computer, then the answer is that you can do this, but you will be logged of one of the other two computers. That’s not a big deal, because when you want to use Lightroom Classic on that computer again, you only need to login again (and get logged out again of the third one).
Hi Johan
Many thanks for your comprehensive reply, if I’ve understood you correctly you have cleared up all my concerns. The answers to questions 2 and 3 are clear. As for question 1 I do not intend to keep chopping and changing between the laptop and the desktop. I expect to take the laptop on holiday or wherever, use it as a backup for my photos, edit the photos as and when I have time then download them to the desktop on my return and import the catalogue from laptop to desktop. The problem of different drive titles should be minimised if I understand you correctly because I will do what I do at present which is to copy the photos and xmp files to a temp folder then link the parent folder when opening their catalog on the desktop before importing the catalog as per normal. This is what I do now following Victoria’s advice and from what you say I think it should work.
 
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The problem of different drive titles should be minimised if I understand you correctly
The Lightroom Classic catalog contains two 'path' fields. The 'absolutePath' will contain the Windows Drive letter which is not recognised if the Catalog file is opened using a MacOS computer. However the second 'path' field id called 'relativePath' and describes the path relative to the path of the catalog file. In a Windows PC this can be come undefined IF the image files are located on a different drive from the catalog file. If you structure your files such that your image files are in subfolders to the Lightroom Folder which contains the catalog, then the 'relativePath' is always resolvable no mater which OS is being used to run Lightroom Classic. If the 'relativePath' is defined in the catalog, the LrC has no difficulty finding the location of the images and does not need an 'absolutPath' . This kind of folder structure is what gets created when the "Export as a Catalog" function creates an Export Catalog package.
If you use this relative path folder structure, the problem of drive letters disappears completely.
 
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If it's any help, for almost all of LR's life my main computer has been a desktop Windows PC and a Mac laptop as my secondary computer. It's perfectly practical and I don't think you need to look too much down any rabbit holes about paths and drives.
 
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I agree. It’s not a major problem and there are several ways to deal with it, it’s just something you need to be aware of. That is why I mentioned it. I have seen many cases where people got into trouble because they tried to use an NTFS-formatted external drive, for example.
 
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A Mac app called Tuxera enables read/write to NTFS drives - again, I've been using it for many years.

How one moves work between computers varies depending on the amount of stuff. If I've been away for a longer trip and/or have more photos, then I'll do a File > Export as Catalog including the negatives and then put the resulting folder onto the external drive. When one opens that catalogue on the PC, LR finds the photos - it doesn't matter that the catalogue had originally recorded Mac paths.

For smaller numbers, in the past I would have saved the xmp on the Mac, moved the photo folders onto Dropbox and imported them on the PC. Recently I tend to save the xmp and then drag the photos onto the Cloudy Lightroom icon in the Mac dock, then allow sync to get the photos over to the PC. This just seems more convenient, even if it loses flags, colour labels and other metadata. In each case, the PC/Mac differences are irrelevant.

If I needed to chop and change between the two environments, I'd probably keep everything on the external drive and move it between computers. One also has Adobe's cloud tools so I might fine tune captions etc on the laptop by working on photos synced to the cloud from Classic LR. But those are other rabbit holes and not ones the OP envisaged.

I wouldn't dispute that some folk find it harder to work with two operating systems, but I've never found it a problem and in fact find it interesting. Just don't be deterred whenever Apple, in their infinite wisdom, decide not to support widely-used features like USB ports or NTFS - there's always a cheap adaptor or app like Tuxera to frustrate them!
 
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